So, it has been about 2 years now since I looked in my closet and realized it was darker than the biblical plague of darkness in there. It seemed that pretty much every piece of clothing I owwned was either black, navy or grey, with a couple of white shirts here and there to wear under other things.
It was depressing.
I realized that I was dressing mostly so that I would just fade into the darkness and no one would notice me. On the other hand, as my esteem was in the toilet and my head was only 2 inches above ground level most of the time, that seemed to fit.
As I slowly broke ground with my therapist, I realized that I had no reason to be hiding behind my clothes. Ok, I am fat. Ok, I am not going to win any modeling contests anytime soon, but I am a good person. I am a nice person. I am not some hideous monster who should never show her face in public... and certainly never look to have anyone notice her at all. I am good enough, I am smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me!
Yes ladies and gentlemen. I am a person who deserves to enjoy my life just as much as the next person. Maybe more than some.
But then came the problem. I had always been told that "people my size" should wear baggy clothing. Try to cover our "flaws". Dark colours were more "slimming". Patterns were too "overwhelming" when used in such large pieces. I realized that I only knew how to dress according to how others saw me. I did not know the first thing about dressing myself the way I wanted to be seen.
I had always been into the whole artsy-romantic-historical look. Did people actually wear stuff like that?
Funnily enough, I found they did. Yes, even fat people. And these were people who wanted to be noticed.
I started by not going to far outside my comfort zone. I had always worn broom stick skirts in the summer. Comfy, roomy, available in black- what more could I have asked for. So I bought one in bright royal blue with a slightly darker embroidered trim at the bottom. Wore it a few times, got used to wearing it with a pale blue shirt! (Pale blue is a colour that had never even entered my home before, let alone my closet!) Before I knew it, I had bought an vibrant haloween orange broomstick skirt with orange sequins and hunter green embroidered trim! I bought a headscarf to match, added a white shirt, and had my first "a whole new me" ensemble.
And I love it and I wear it all summer long.
Because I am an Orthodox Jew pants, shorts, sleeveless, backless etc. is just not an option for me. Totally not up for discussion. In some ways this makes life easier... no need to fight the inner "should I should my upper arms even though I hate the way they continue to wave hello after the rest of my arm has stopped" battle. On the other hand, it does give me a little less to work with as finding skirts that are nice, funky, washable, weather appropriate, and available in plus sizes is a bit of a tall order. Add to that the fact that I always wear a hat or head scarf of some sort (I do own a couple of wigs but hate wearing them so they get a lot of shelf time).
Over time I have managed to build up a set of "funner" clothing. I have a skirts in violet with beads and sequins, brown with velvet, a red white and blue paisley print and even in tie dye! I have an awesome ruffled poet shirt with a ribbon corset going down the front, some nice t shirts of varying sleave length in a number of different colours, and some really funky sweaters that I love for in the winter. I even own two turtlenecks... something I was told was an absolute "no-no".
Recently I even went so far as to start buying dresses. I picked up this amazing black jumper that has a front corset tied with a hot pink ribbon that I wear with a hot pink shirt. I have a wrap dress (ok, so that is black, but it has burgandy trim). I even looked at a dress with this bold, mod square pattern on it in black white and red (I decided though that I just could nto afford it right then so I had to walk away.
Even my footwear has gotten a little more exciting thanks to my sister. No more loafers 7 days a week. Now I have heels, ballet flats, boots, even a pair of fairly strappy sandals.
And today I was chatting with someone about a shirt I saw that I want really, really badly. She commented that she loved it, but would never have the courage to wear it. I realized that a year ago neither would I.
I also realized that overhauling my wardrobe is a big part of what has been happening to my overall self esteem. Sure there are still some bad days, but on the whole I am moving out of the "I am a terrible person because I am fat and should love a life of shame" to "I am a good person and that is independent of how I look and I deserve to live my life in the sun like everyone else".
I am not entirely sure if I am pulling my wardrobe or if it is pulling me, but either way it seems to be working for us both.