Clothed in Grace

For as long as I can remember, I have been an eccentric dresser. What started out as an affinity with lime green clogs at the age of 6 has morphed into and obsession with vintage frocks and expensive shoes. As a fashionista with addictive tendencies, I deeply identify with the great Carrie Bradshaw when she said, “I like my money where I can see it: In my closet.” In the past, dressing has not only allowed me a great form of self expression and the ability to choose the “skin” I want to live in. Whether putting on a sequin tutu or a baseball tee, fashion allows be to choose and control the way I am perceived in a body that for most of my life has felt uncontrollable, alien, and unlovable.

But sadly for majority of women around America (myself included), shopping is not always a simple task. Mainstream clothing is fashioned around size 2 realities with size 0 expectations. So where choosing what we wear should give us the unique ability to express ourselves to the world and embrace our own unique beauty at a size 2 or 22+, the industry says: “You can only express your true self in single digits. Everyone else can go to Sears”. And so we hide, poke and prod, squeeze, abuse, and misuse our bodies so we can fit into the skin of the masses, rather than celebrate what we already have. Never did I feel this greater than when I almost died trying to fit into Hollister Jeans.

As a teenager in the early 2000s, nothing said, “I’m cool” like the putrid stench and bone rattling bass of Hollister & Co. Having just graduated into the highest caste of popularity in my 8th grade year, I had the mandatory uniform of Hollister polos and ripped low-rise jeans. But there was a problem. At the age of 13, my hips fit better in a size 12 than Hollister’s largest size, a whopping 7. And so I had the very difficult task of choosing between shopping at stores for fully developed women(“NOT!”), or do whatever it took to stay a little girl as long as I could(“HOT!”). So I rejected my maturing feminine figure for a life of binging and purging. I danced 20 hours a week in hopes that then–maybe then– I could fit into the jeans and be beautiful, desirable, loved. I vividly remember the day I finally pulled those jeans over my butt and buttoned them snuggly around my waist. I looked in the mirror, and instead of pride over the body modification I’d accomplished I was disgusted at the figure that looked back at me. And so I cried, grieving the shell of a person I’d become.

I am so grateful to Rachell and Ashley for presenting this blog because by loving their bodies at every step of their own weight loss journey– they are teaching me (and I’m assuming many of you) to not only love my body in process, but also to embrace the person I have become in recovery. I can dress any which way I’d like, but at the end of the day, clothing will never be special enough, quirky enough, or eccentric enough to really share with the world who I am. So here’s what I propose– Dress to impress upon your heart that you are beautiful in the very moment you find yourself in. Wear clothing that respects your intellect and celebrates the unique personality that makes up who you are. Throw your “skinny goal jeans” away as a reminder that skinny is not always healthy. And learn to seek emotional health alongside physical health, filling your tattered shell with love, and vivacious life.

I am still on a long journey of recovery out of the Hollister dressing room. I find myself back in those size 12 jeans, but instead of an empty shell I see a woman, decorated with red lipstick and pearls, and clothed in grace.

March Guest Blogger: Hannah is an up-and-coming playwright from Orange County California. She graduated from Azusa Pacific University with her degrees in Theater Arts and Screenwriting hopes to continue her studies with a graduate education of Playwriting in the Fall of 2016. She is passionate about bringing down the patriarchy, cats against catcalls, and of course, vintage clothing.

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