Sunday, April 10, 2011

Scraps of fabric and thread and their meaning.

Dear Diary,

I'm sitting on my bed typing this because surprisingly, it is 30 degrees out.  I had decided I was going to suck it up and try to get in 30 miles today, because Sweet Baboo is at a medical conference in Washington, where there also happened to be a 50K.  He is doing it this morning and so, well, am I--but here at home.  I'm sure he'll be finished long before I will, given my penchent for taking time-outs, sitting in the shade at gas stations and sipping cold coca-cola.  Oh, and he's faster than I am.  Chances are, that wind and cold is going to do me long long before 30 miles is reached.

So. But.  Anyway.

Last night Dread Pirate came over and we "shopped" my closet.

For the uninformed, this consisted of DP going through my clothing murmering any and all of the following:
EW. Weekend only.
Oh my God, this looks terrible.  Why won't you dry clean?  
You have a lot of mock turtle necks.  Is there any reason for that?
I'm expecting to find--oh yes, here it is *shudders*: the Christmas sweater.
Your closet is full of Burqas.  You know that, right?  
This would look so hot on you!  Why is it stuffed in the back of your closet?
What is it with you and the spinster-school-marm look?

When you're big and middle-aged, or maybe just middle-aged, or maybe just big, you often adopt a "I'll cover it up and then I won't have to think about it" attitude towards your body.  The skirts go to the floor. The tops go to the knees.  You tell yourself, this skirt that drops straight to my feet is very slimming, and will hide the extra pounds.  

You convince yourself that the tunics will make you look just like the size 00 models who were wearing them in the catalogue, and that the item of clothing with the "secret slimming panel" actually does what it says, and this pattern is very slimming, (says the saleslady.  And why would she lie?)  Life becomes a quest for clothing that is slimming, and failing that, just covers it all the hell up.

Of course, I had my own defenses set up as Pirate handed items to the daughter to add to the ever-growing pile on the bed
  • I can't rid of that.  I paid a lot of money for it.
  • I can't throw that out - it was a gift.
  • That was on sale.  It was a terrific deal.
  • Hey, I like that piece.  (To which she would counter, when do you wear it? and I would have to say, it's too big.  i can't wear it.
Often, I would get incredulous looks from Pirate  when I said, "I can still wear that."
Do you have any idea what size you are now?

that 70s child.  I'm on the right.
I've never really thought about clothing all that much until the last decade.  Well, sorta.  As a child, I was a huge tomboy, and didn't really care much what I wore, as long as I didn't look like a dumb old girl.  It wouldn't have mattered anyway, because by the time I did care, I had a slightly miserly father who refused to buy clothing for me.  I was given perfunctory clothing for my birthday, and for Christmas, and there were back-to-school shopping trips to provide the necessary blue-jeans, shoes, and underwear.

I could have bought some of the "in" clothes with money from my jobs, but I was also required to provide my own gas, cigarettes (don't go there) and insurance, so there wasn't much left for clothes.  I just wasn't all that invested, to be truthful.  I adopted an I-don't-care-attitude  toward clothing.  When my children were little, like a lot of moms, I lived in sweat shirts and jeans.

When I finished graduate school, I started working on a professional wardrobe, but my weight bounced between a 12 and a size 16 continuously, so it was hard to maintain, and I fell also into the role of a schoolteacher, and wore long dresses with high necklines.  I graduated from high school a size M, usually between a 6 and an 8, and after my first pregnancy, I never saw those numbers again except for a brief few months in 2000 when I got down to a size 8 by hiking and starving myself.  I couldn't maintain it.  I bounced back up to my adult weight: size 12 to 16.

Last year in April I dropped to a size 8, and then this past February, a size 6, although that depends on my level of hydration and time of month.  I've comfortably maintained this for nearly a year. I don't feel starved.

My picture of my adult self is permanently stuck at size 12 or 14, so when I see clothes that size, I figure they will fit me.  I still do.  When I look in the mirror, my filter sees me at that 12-14 size, usually an L and sometimes an XL.  

Also, truthfully, I had to admit to myself that I'm afraid to get rid of the bigger clothes, because what if I get bigger again?  What would I wear?  So yes, for all these reasons, I often protested even as the clothing was going onto one of the growing piles on the bed.

I have to remind myself that there will always be clothes.  Also, clothing should be an adornment, not just a cover-up.  It should show who am I am, and how I feel about myself.  And right now, despite all my kvetching, I feel smart, fast, accomplished--my clothes should reflect that, right?  And slim.  I have to keep saying that to myself: I am slim. 

I do not need to cover it the hell up.  I don't dress quite as floridly as Dread Pirate; she is a walking party and celebration of fashion, and it reflects her personality.  My work requires that I be a bit more conservative, and perhaps because of a lot of life experiences, I just am.   I like Clark shoes, and Born heels, because I can walk briskly in them. I take long strides, so stilettos are out, as is anything that requires tiny, mincing steps.  I need to feel like I can reach, bend, stretch, move in my clothes.

But still, I can have more fun in this new, strange body. Well, not strange.  It's just a body I haven't seen in a long time.  It was all covered up with extra fat, and of course, lots of fabric.

So more often, as the session went on, I found myself saying, You're right.  I haven't worn that in ages.  Sometimes I pull it out of my closet, put it on, and then toss it back into the closet, because it's too big, or looks like shit on me, or both.  No, you're right.  I look like hell in brown.  I don't know why I have so many pieces of brown clothing.

At the end of the event there were five piles of clothing on the bed:
  1. These need to go to dry cleaning NOW
  2. These need to go to Goodwill.
  3. These might could go on Ebay.
  4. These need to have about 18" chopped off the hem, or taken in, or both.
  5. These are on probation (where you take an item and put it in a separate part of your house, and if you haven't worn it in 6 months, out it goes.)

My "to be altered" pile is pretty big, and will be chipped away at over the next few months.


The stuff that is left is, in all honesty, pretty much what I wear now about 90% of the time anyway.

Now, there is more room in the closet, for more adornment, as I continue to explore the new meaning of the space I take up, and the self that I think I am.  I can have fun with this new, smaller me.



  1. I want to be a better woman than this. I want to be the type of woman that can revel in and celebrate the successes of her friends without turning on herself.

    But I am not.

    You are beautiful, smart, funny, and inspiring at any size and any number, but I am, truly, despite the 5-layer cake sized bat I am currently beating my - binge eating/yo-yo dieting/self-destructive -self up with, happy for you.

    You have broken the cycle that plagues the health and psyche of almost every woman I know.

    Now if only this bat could break mine. It hasn't since the first time I made myself sick with food to cover emotions I did not know how to handle. I do not know why I continue to return to it.

    As always, thank you for sharing so honestly on a struggle that many of us can't or won't put into words.

  2. YOU GO GIRL!! any time you want me to come back and talk you out of keeping your collection of Burqas, I'm there. Love ya!

  3. Anonymous12:43 PM

    Your own personal "what NOT to wear" lady via DP! So cool-!

    That's what a great hubby and exercise (running specifically) does for one- makes you love yourself!


  4. Way to go Misty! That has got to feel so GOOD!

  5. Yea! You are so inspiring! What a good feeling...and you've earned it, for sure.

  6. Can DP make a road trip to Roswell? I need exactly that! I've been wondering a lot lately as I pull out the summer clothes from last year, how baggy is too baggy. It's a good problem to have, but I completely get your fear of getting rid of the big clothes. A few pounds up and I worry about all the things I gave away.

    Your transformation is impressive and you (we) will begin to see it in the mirror soon!

  7. i see myself the same, as a 12/14, l, xl...but i'm now an 8,m, sometime small. I still see my 12/14 self when i look in the mirror.

  8. Anonymous9:29 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Anonymous9:30 AM

    Well put - I struggle with the middle aged thing too. I see so many examples of how not to dress/what not to wear, that I get paranoid that "X" is too young/old. As well, I tend to be pretty conservative in terms of exposing my chest (years of being large busted) and so much that is out there is low cut. I just bought some new workout stuff and got talked into a medium - I've just always bought large and tried that size only to hear that they were way too big on me. "But the boobs" I said - "the boobs are medium" they said. I'm also happily starting to take things in to be altered. Haven't done that in years.


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