A lot’s been happening in the last few months.
I started a new job.
I flew to Orlando to surprise my family for Thanksgiving. Then flew back a month later for Christmas.
I’ve once again transitioned from racing cyclocross every weekend at my peak fitness to running, biking and hiking when I can and when I feel like it.
I’ve moved into a bigger body size and my pants have gotten a little tighter.
I’ve ridden quite the rollercoaster with body size and image over the last twelve years. I remember the day and the moment when I started to see small changes in my body after going to my university’s gym consistently…and I liked it. So, I kept at it, eventually rendering my entire wardrobe too big. Overall, I’m not proud of the way I treated myself and talked to myself and talked about myself in front of family and friends. My behavior and poor self-esteem affected so many friendships and relationships.
When I moved to Colorado, I left a lot of that baggage in Florida. I made decisions based on whether or not they would make me happy, not smaller. I indulged in experiences not gym sessions. But even with all the positive mental and emotional work I have done in the past few years, and even with all the progress I know I have made, I still felt a wave of shame wash over me as I slipped my filled out thighs into a familiar pair of skinny jeans. I stood in front of the mirror feeling frumpy and unworthy and fat because a piece of clothing fit my body a different way than the last time I put it on.
I hated that.
And I realized that I’m still holing onto tons of clothing with which I have strong relationships and memories…even though they don’t fit. I have a reusable bag in my closet filled with shorts and leggings I wore ten years and three sizes smaller ago during my cross country days. But I kept them. I have jackets that would pull apart at the seams if my now-broader shoulders tried to squeeze into. But I kept them. I have dresses hanging in my closet that I bought while I was working through my last painful breakup; none of mine fit because I so sick and so sad that I barely ate for a week. I still have them. When I look at these pieces, I know the person and the size I was when I wore them. I remember how I looked in them in the mirror. I remember how I felt in them; slim like the models on the Madewell website.
Standing at my bathroom counter staring at myself in this larger-but-not-large-enough pair of jeans a few weeks ago, I knew what I needed to do because I have done it before: buy new jeans from a new brand in a new size that I don’t have a relationship with.
I stripped and threw on sweatpants, got out my phone and Googled MOM JEANS. I was craving something roomy with a high waist and landed on the Levi’s website. They were having a massive sale and had just one pair left in the size I estimated would fit me, so I ordered them.
A couple weeks later when these new-size, new-memories pants showed up at my door I dropped everything I was doing and tried them on. Mega high waist, roomy in the butt, tapered with a wide leg but not a flare.
So. Into. Them.
I threw on my current favorite light purpley-pink Calvin Klein v-neck sweater and tucked the front into the high waist as the trendy girls do. I twirled in front of that same mirror checking out my same larger-size form, but this time I felt like a million bucks. I felt supported and shaped. But most importantly, I felt no relationship to these jeans because we’d only known each other for five minutes. I couldn’t compare this day to one in a previous life when they hung off me at a smaller size. I couldn’t compare them to when I wore them on a first date or during a time when I thought I looked better.
Just because, I threw on my shoes and coat and headed out for a walk around the block. Because I wanted to feel the way the wide leg slapped against my shin. I wanted to look down at the fun and trendy frayed hems. I wanted to remember this feeling but not hold onto it too tightly in case maybe one day I grew out of these jeans, too, and it was time to introduce a new style and size and brand into my wardrobe again.