My wardrobe is bulging with clothes. It seems like a normal amount to me but when I have friends over they usually gasp at the sheer volume of clothing that seems to take over the space in my bedroom. Not just clothing but accessories, shoes and yes, an entire wicker basket of scarves and belts. When I moved back to Canada for a year and thought I wouldn’t be back, I gave away 9 bags of clothing to friends and local charity shops. And I still had 5 large suitcases of stuff to lug back home. I was moments away from being head hunted for the show Hoarders, if only they caught me before my flight left Gatwick.
I’ve worked in fashion for the past 4 years and even before this, I have always really, really loved to shop. I don’t consider myself a shallow person – I have many interests that aren’t related to hanging out at the mall – but the rush of buying new things every season, finding the perfect pair of boots, or the most deliciously worn in vintage leather bag – it’s all a part of a beautiful collection of things that I really enjoy collecting.
But most of them are worn only a handful of times, not because of boredom or neglect, but because my weight has fluctuated up and down since I was 16 years old. I’ve gone up and down from a size six to a size 14 and back down again. I lose weight, buy a new wardrobe and then it doesn’t fit again within a few months. It’s an expensive habit that I can’t seem to break.
At the moment, the shops are heaving with summer sale items, most of which I am buying because my old clothes no longer fit so I have nothing to wear. Two of my best friends got married last year, one in October and one in December – I had gone up three sizes within those two months. And I’m not the only one – according to a 2010 poll by the Harley Medical Group, the average woman goes through four different dress sizes in her lifetime. I have been both extremely thin and chubby – often within the same year for over the past ten years. It’s affected the way I feel about my body, my relationship with food and the way I dress.
I love playsuits, shorts and skinny jeans but at the moment I can’t bear to wear any of them because I’m convinced I look awful – which means most of my clothes are collecting dust just as the English summer is heating up. Working in fashion means I can express myself with the way I dress on a daily basis but I don’t feel comfortable enough to wear whatever I want right now. This constant yo-yo dieting makes me feel bad about myself and lately I find myself only wearing sack dresses, long maxi skirts and silky pants that cover up my legs. I see women the same size as me who look great and wear whatever they want with confidence while I hide behind my baggy trousers. I look at thin girls with envy, and feel a deep sense of guilt about eating a few squares of chocolate for dessert.
I wish I didn’t feel this way. After all, it’s true that confidence is attractive in anyone. No one likes a whinging girl who counts calories as a hobby. But I would just love to just remain the same weight consistently – being neither fat nor thin, just normal and comfortable in my own body. My entire life has been an eternal quest to be a certain size – anything over that and I hide behind empire waist dresses, black opaque tights and tunics.
As my birthday approaches at the end of August, my goal is to finally make peace with my body, get into the best shape of my life by running a 10K in September and to stop obsessing about my weight and size once and for all. I want to lose the excess weight I’ve put on over the past six months, not just because I want to be thin but because I want to wear the 80% of my wardrobe that is hanging in my closet with no purpose. These shorts were made for walking – not for collecting dust while I spend another night eating chocolate digestive biscuits and lasagna. So I’m starting my diet tomorrow, not just for my health but for the love of my wardrobe.