I have a pair of skinny jeans, size 4, hidden at the top of my closet. I have a lacy bra, cup size 32A, tucked underneath a pile of socks in my bottom drawer. I have Daisy Dukes (size 3, juniors), crop-top tanks (XS), and a string bikini (size 2). And my crowning glory is the chocolate-brown prom dress, size 4, that hangs in the back of my closet.
At one time in my life, I could fit into all of them. But let’s be real—it’s been 5 years since I fit into those jeans, wore that prom dress, and hooked that 32A bra around my chest. In early high school, I was a conventionally thin varsity athlete.
Then I broke my ankle at the beginning of my junior year, was forced to quit the volleyball team as a result, and gained ten pounds. At twenty years old, I’m exactly twenty pounds heavier than I was at my skinniest. In place of the 32A chest, I’ve got a pair of 34Ds. Plus the new curves and padding that settled everywhere else, of course.
As weight gains go, this one is (in the big scheme of things) pretty insignificant. And most days I’m proud of my body and all its quirks—the muscles, the curves, and even the plethora of stretch marks on my hips and ass. But some days are harder than others, and keeping clothes around that remind me of a thinner self is not helping.
It’s not my current weight in the abstract that bothers me. I eat well and exercise regularly, have low blood pressure, and am (arbitrarily) within the medical range of “healthy” weights for my height. My weight, whether I measure on a scale or with BMI, is just a number. What I struggle with is something completely different.
See, when I was thin, I assumed (erroneously) that I would always be thin—that trim, thin, and curveless was my natural body type. Sure, my mother’s curvy, but my father is stick thin with nary a pound of fat to his body. It seemed well within the range of possibility that I would be thin too. But when I stopped playing volleyball, my body settled, thrown off from the routine of 5-7 hours of practice/games/cross-training every day. It should have come as no surprise that I gained weight. But it was a surprise.
Since then, my body’s taken more steps towards what I now believe is my natural shape. I’ve tried to be okay—even happy—about each new change: stretch marks, cellulite, emerging love handles and all. But given that I thought only five years ago that I’d be thin forever, the process has been hard. It’s funny how rationally, we can know that our cultural obsession with thinness is arbitrary and socially constructed, yet we still criticize our bodies for not conforming to the skinny girl ideal.
I consistently fall on and off into the unhealthy mindset that if I only eat better/eat less/exercise more/etc. I’ll return to my 15-year-old body. I’ll be able to put on those skinny jeans; those Daisy Dukes and the string bikini; that gorgeous, gorgeous prom dress. But I need to learn body-positivity for myself, and stop criticizing my body. I need to celebrate the body that I have, rather than idolize the one I used to have. And I definitely need to throw out that bra.
Readers, do you have any remnants of the past in your closet? Why do you keep them?