WHAT I LEARNED MY FIRST YEAR OF GRADUATE FIELD PLACEMENT

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I’m hitting the point in the semester where things begin to close. I don’t actually finish my placement until mid-July, but everyone around me is wrapping up, and it’s gotten me reflecting. 


This has been the hardest year of my life. I have grown and stretched and evolved in ways I am still attempting to comprehend. It has been the hardest year of my life; but it’s also been the most humbling; the most transformative; the most raw. 


My placement played a very large role in all of this. It has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done; I also might be pretty damn good at it. 


Bring it on, final year ✨

Journal Entry

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This smile came about two minutes after I cried because I felt too uncomfortable in my body to be photographed. It feels very similar to how I’ve been experiencing the last month or so. Ups and downs. Despair and joy. I’m yo-yoing constantly between using my anxiety to fuel an extreme amount of work and succumbing to mental exhaustion by rooting myself to my bed or other comfy surface in my apartment. I’m going and going and going, and it never seems to stop. Even when I stop. Everything else around me is still moving, ready for me to jump back in and freak out about the things that zoomed right by me that I now have to catch up to. It’s not quite like the eye of a storm, when the center is calm. My center doesn’t know calm. So as I sit here, trying to take a Sunday to myself, to exist and be and not do, my brain is still elsewhere. But I will keep fighting it. I will keep showing up. Because that’s really all that I can do. 

“Lessons from a bad day: there’s always tomorrow.”

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Take ✌🏼 I posted a much simpler version of this last night, and as soon as I did I realized what it needed. Does that ever happen to you? You think something is finished, or maybe aren’t sure what changes you need to make for it to feel finished, and then you look at it in a different environment and suddenly it’s like DUH. Anyway, happy Friday. Happy holidays to all. Happy pesach. I’m feeling okay today. I hope you are too. 

WHAT IS THIN PRIVILEGE?

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It astounds me when people take complex, intricate concepts about how different kinds of bodies move through the world on a systemic, collective level and turn it into an argument about “silencing” people in privileged bodies and an insistence that personal discomfort matters more than the violent, abusive reality of living in a marginalized body.

Thin privilege is a concept that fat activists have developed over years of personal and collective experience, gathered data, and a decades-long fight for fat folks to be treated the same as people in smaller bodies. Is it not about your individual experience with your body. It is not about whether or not you’ve ever looked in the mirror and hated your reflection. We’ve ALL experienced that. But we don’t all experience the way that fat people are treated in this world, because spoiler alert: unless you’re fat, you haven’t been there. 
Thin privilege is a demonstrable reality. It is something that fat folks have to contend with every single day. And it’s something that thin folks never have to consider. The next time a fat person calls you out for it, listen.

Thank you to everyone in my HAES community who extended extreme and compassionate labor on the interwebs these last 24 hours. Thank you for using your thin privilege to educate and inform, rather than plugging your ears and singing LALALALA <3 


What elements of thin privilege did I miss? Drop your thoughts below.

#MoreThanMyDisorder, a compilation of Eating Disorder Stories collected by Amanda Koplin

If memory serves (it doesn’t always, but let’s assume it does for argument’s sake), I have been preoccupied with food for my entire young life.

When I was very young it took its form in full-out rebellion, including extreme refusal to abide by any of my mother’s rules around what and when I could eat. I would sneak into the kitchen and steal fried chicken cutlets right off of their paper towel beds, the grease collecting on the then-see-through white cotton. I would scamper into the long-abandoned fancy dining room, shoving the cutlet into my mouth and scarfing it down, my heart hammering heavily in my ears, terrified and excited at the idea of being caught crumb-handed. The chicken would burn my tongue and the roof of my mouth, particles of breadcrumbs falling every which way and sticking to my chapped lips, and I would tell myself no one will notice if one more is missing. Repeated trips from the kitchen to the stale dining room eventually turned “one more” into a noticeable dent, and any appetite I had for dinner would be completely ruined. Shame would quickly fill the void left by absent adrenaline and secrecy, and my brain would fog into numbness.

This was middle school. This was my pattern.

Being told I was too fat by the doctors. Told not to eat this, that, and the other by my mother. Told I was a failure by myself.

The disordered eating patterns, depression, anxiety, and body image issues that colored my adolescence did not develop into a full-blown eating disorder, however, until late into my high school career.

This is when I lost my fire; my fight; my inner warrior; myself.

I was no longer inhaling dinner in the shadows of my house, but my obsession with food had grown. I had figured out how to make it my bitch (or so I thought). I had figured out how to calculate and measure and manipulate. I became the girl who lost all the weight; the girl who packed the healthiest lunches; the girl who was once known for being oh-so-smart was now oh-so-pretty. I went to a tiny high school, and people noticed when I dropped a significant amount of weight. They treated me differently. They paid attention to me in ways they never had before. They knew me as the girl who conquered being fat; the girl who had “filled out” in just the right ways; just the right figure.

I wish they had known how their praise and commentary kept me going.

I wish they had known how I religiously weighed myself every single morning, taking every single scrap of clothing off (even my clunky watch) to be sure the weigh-in was as low as it could possibly be. I wish they had known that I spent every waking hour pouring over recipes and food porn, visually drinking in the taboo to which I was only allowed if my calorie count allotted for it. I wish they had known that I measured my success for the day by whether or not I went to sleep with my stomach screaming at me, gurgling and growling with lack of nutrients to carry me through the night. I wish they had known that every weekend I calculated my new BMI and measured my new waist-to-hip ratio and calculated just exactly how many calories I would have to slash from my diet to lose a certain number of pounds by a certain date. I wish they had known that I always hated math, that I was never good at it, but that I excelled in the math that was my body chemistry; I was a pro, with numbers and figures memorized, adding up, multiplying, and dividing them with such speed that my high school math teacher would have been proud.

I wish they had known that, eventually, the girl with perfectly portioned meals and enviable weight loss couldn’t take it any more. That my preoccupation with food had only grown, grown so large that it overtook me like a heavy gust of wind on a chilly fall day, knocking me down and carrying me away. I wish they had know that I couldn’t take it any more; that the girl with the perfect self-control had lost it all in nightly binges, her stomach revolting and her brain going into survival mode. I wish they had known that the life-blood of the latter half of my high school existence was plagued not by my schoolwork that I was so diligently known for, but by the mirror. Body-checking every day. Rationalizing food choices every day. Until I just couldn’t any more.

I wish they had known that I had given up, while still clinging to it all for dear life. Still clinging to my magic numbers, while everything else unraveled beneath my ever-aching fingertips.

I wish they had known that giving up was not, in fact, a failure. That giving up is what saved me.

I wish they had known that I needed to hear that.

I wish I had known I was a warrior.

***

By the end of high school I was engaging in full-out binges throughout the day, taking sanctuary in the quiet hours of my house when no one was home. There was a week during the summer before my freshman year of college that I was left entirely alone. I spent those seven days on the couch, trips to the pantry and the fridge my only reprieve from mindless television, the food passing my lips but never tasting like much of anything. I kept myself in a constant state of numb, the amount of food I had ingested making me so full that it hurt to breathe, and filling my body with a heaviness; a weight. I sunk into that couch and stayed there, my mind reeling only with thoughts of what I could eat next that maybe would taste the way I wanted it to; what I could eat next that maybe would lighten the bricks that I had stacked upon my own chest.

There isn’t any food in the world that can cure that heaviness.

***

Going away to college gave me a breath of new life. I was going to be someone else, a fun girl, not the smart girl. The pretty girl. The skinny girl. The fun girl.

That, of course, meant that while my summer bingeing had reached an all-time high, it was time to “buckle down” and lose the weight I had gained. For the first year I yo-yoed with my own mind, intent on weight loss, but only succeeding in restricting and bingeing, restricting and bingeing, over and over until finally I just gave up again and relished in eating eating eating. This was the end of my freshman year.

I tried to find my new savior in healthy the summer before my sophomore year of college. Healthy food, healthy lifestyle, healthy healthy healthy. I became a gluten-free vegan, and my fixation went from calories to food choice. I prayed at the altar of clean eating and voraciously consumed books and documentaries to my heart’s content, convinced that I had finally found the answer. So much so that my new decided career path developed, that of a writer for a healthy food magazine. I channeled my fixation into every aspect of my life, pouring over recipes and food articles, writing for the Health and Food sections of the school publication, obsessed with cookbooks for vegan swaps and gluten-be-gone solutions.

And all the while I just kept bingeing.

All the while I still hated what I saw in the mirror.

All the while I still refused to wear shorts and still felt uncomfortable walking around in my own body.

All the while, all I felt was shame and failure.

All the while, I tightened my hold on my restrictions and my fear foods, wrapped myself in rules and declarations of health, bound myself so tightly that my ribs began to cave under the pressure, even as my bingeing inflated me like a balloon.

I became the health nut. I became the crazy, healthy girl.

I wish they had known that the tighter I squeezed, the more I wrapped, and the harder I held on, the more the disorder consumed me. That my entire life trajectory had been dictated and manipulated by my disorder.

I wish they had known that I didn’t know who I was without it.

***

Letting go of the shame and the rules and the ideas about what it means to be beautiful is the only way I found myself in recovery. Finding who I am, at the core of it all, is something I have only been able to do because I stopped letting my eating disorder dictate who I am and how I lead my life.

I wish people knew that I only found my fire again when I doused the demons within. That I only found myself again when I let go of the things that used to define me. That my passion for social justice and my thirst for knowledge were squashed under the weight of calorie calculations and self-hatred.

I wish people knew that it’s still a struggle, every day. That sometimes I slip. That sometimes I retreat into old coping mechanisms. That recovery is not a linear process.

I wish people knew that it isn’t just my eating disorder. That it’s the depression and anxiety and so many other things rolled up into one.

I wish people knew that it isn’t about the food. That it is an outlet; a way to glue yourself back together when everything is tearing you apart.

I wish people knew that just because I wasn’t emaciated, just because you couldn’t see the physical manifestation of my eating disorder, didn’t mean that I didn’t need help.

I wish society did not perpetuate the idea that healthy equates to skinny and that fat equates to death and the idea that the worst thing you can be in this world is fat.

I wish society did not tell us that only cisgendered, white women are impacted by this. That we were told that eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes.

I wish people told us that misogyny shapes these disorders. That diet culture is a tool of the patriarchy, and that feminism is our greatest resource for recovery.

I wish so many things.

But most of all, I wish people would see. I wish people would look. I wish people would listen. I wish people would be patient. I wish people would be compassionate and kind. I wish people would take this seriously. I wish people would take us seriously. I wish people respected our struggle.

I wish people would see us as warriors, and not fragile victims; that our fight with ourselves is just as valiant as full on combat; that we went to war with our bodies and our minds, and have come out the other side. I wish, instead of someone telling me that I needed to lose weight or look a certain way so many years ago, that someone had told me to be a warrior; that someone had told me that I am a warrior.

We are warriors.

Now listen to us roar.

On Depression

It is greasy, stringy hair and skipped showers and last night’s pajamas three days in.

It is the inability to leave your bed for any discernible reason. It is the effort it takes to make yourself a bowl of cereal; put on a new pair of sweatpants; remove yourself from the hollow that has become your bed and make your way into a bathtub, hot water scalding and your mind exhausted from the exertion; pay attention to anything going on around you.

It is watching yourself spiral into that dark hole, feeling yourself sink lower and lower into nothingness, and feeling helpless to do a damned thing about it.

It is glassy-eyed stares and hazy thoughts and interacting with the world from inside a cold, dense cloud. It is walks to class with your eyes glued to the pavement, if you go to class at all. It is avoiding social interaction at all costs, because just the thought of saying hello makes it hard to breathe.

It is dirty. It is cold. It is sad. It is lonely. It is emptiness.

It is the sink piled high with unwashed dishes, weeks old, and an abundance of garbage bags shoved into the ever-filling corner. It is the unmade bed dotted with beaten pillows and twisted sheets that have been torn from the bedframe due to frantic tossing and turning during restless nights. It is the desk strewn with scattered papers and lost pens. It is your room smelling stale and looking like a silent bomb exploded within its small four walls. It is darkness even during the day.

It is being hit by wave after wave of oncoming sea, inhaling sharp salt water with each punch, every deep swallow filling your throat with bubbles and sea foam, rubbing you raw and leaving you gasping for air. It is not being able to walk out of the ocean because in some ways it feels safer than what lies beyond.

It is the bright blue light from your phone at four in the morning, mindlessly scrolling through app after app, retaining nothing, gaining nothing, when even sleep feels like climbing a mountain.

It is crushing. It is fear. It is numb. It is being in the eye of storm, surrounded by chaos on all sides and feeling strangely calm as the world disintegrates around you.

It is not romantic. It does not make you beautifully tragic. It is not something that someone else can save you from, no matter how hard they try. And believe me, they will try. They will try to lift you out of your own mind, reach underneath your arms, grasp ahold and pull with all their might. They will pour themselves into you just to try and give you enough life to float above the sea that chases you. But it does not take kindly to the kind. It does not leave any man behind. It will drown them too.

It is that voice inside your head telling you that you are not good enough; that you are a failure; that you are the cause of your own undoing; that your existence on this earth does not make one iota of a difference. It is not knowing how to make that voice go away, it’s sweet nothings slithering under your skin and making a home in your heart.

But it is wrong.

Never let it convince you otherwise.

Gray

Sometimes it feels like I have conquered my demons. I think back on all of my progress, where I’ve been and what I’ve seen. Pathologies that used to flood my brain; so many of those are gone, forgotten, hidden in the dark corners and crevices of my brain, memories of that past self collecting cobwebs and piles of dust bunnies.

Sometimes I don’t remember how bad it used to be, the amount of mental energy I used to expend monitoring everything that went into my body, berating and chastising myself for not following rules one, two, and three and breaking numbers four through 5,000. I don't remember the last time I felt frantic looking at a restaurant menu. I don't remember the last time I weighed myself, or the last time I pre-planned a meal, or the last time I ate something without letting it tickle my taste buds, allowing myself to appreciate the food I was eating. I don't remember the last time I ate something I really didn't want, or felt compelled to finish my plate even after deciding I was full. I don't remember the last time I felt guilty, truly guilty, after eating a meal. But mostly, I don't remember the last time I felt utterly consumed by what I put in my mouth. 

And yet, for as far as I have come, for as far away as those memories seem, I can't seem to bear the sight of my own body, full on in all its shining glory. The self-monitoring and the policing of my food, that might be gone. But the self-monitoring and the policing of my body… that has stuck around.

I can't sleep with my shirt off because I've always hated the way my breasts flatten out, how they're shaped and how they fall. I can't walk around in just a bra and underwear because I have to hide the rippling, tangled web of red that mars the backs of my thighs, the tops of my calves, the round of my belly, the curve of my hips, the underside of my arms. I can't wear my hair in a ponytail because my neck is too fat, a thick layer prominent against the flat of my throat and outlined by creases that make me cringe. Spaghetti straps intimidate the hell out of me because they expose my collarbones, too cluttered by extra skin and goop to cut me quite the right way. And every time I try to force myself outside of all of the noise in my head, force myself to put on that crop top and throw my hair up in a messy bun and walk out the front door, that creeping voice in the back of my head nags at me all day. How could you go out like that, it says. Fix yourself, it says. And by the end of the day, a sweatshirt has been pulled on and the bun has been yanked free, my hair cascading around my shoulders, shielding me from the rest of the world.

And when the clothes come off, when all those layers are taken away and I am just left with little ol’ me… oh boy is it a trainwreck. I can’t even say the words I am naked. It feels too vulnerable. Too exposed. And I certainly can’t look at my naked body in any kind of intentional way. Mostly I just avoid it; pretend it isn’t there; pretend that this whole part of me, this skin-suit-living-person part of me, just isn’t there. Because it makes me too uncomfortable to really look at myself with any kind of deliberateness.

I find it most uncomfortable when I am in between getting out of the shower and putting my clothes on for the day. The trip from drawer to closet, back and forth due to forgotten this and missing that, is accompanied by the thick clutches of my fists on the heavy towel I’ve chosen to shield myself in. When the time to get dressed finally comes, the full-length mirror that adorns the front of the room acts as a repellent. I turn myself every which way to ensure that my eyes are practically incapable of meeting my own reflection once the towel comes off, my fingers thumbing frantically at bra straps and zippers, limbs flailing wildly as I pull on this item and that. I try to get on as many pieces of clothing as possible before I inevitably must turn and face myself. I avoid, avoid, avoid.

I don't even know what my body looks like if it isn't in bits and pieces. I can stomach it when I'm half clothed. Certain parts obscured, others expertly revealed to spark a little interest; show a little skin; make myself consumable in little, bite-sized pieces. And yet I can't look at myself, my whole body: starting with my face covered in acne scars and oil-slicked skin, down to the slope of my pudgy neck and the jiggle of my arms, past my very uneven breasts and jutted out rib cage, cinching in towards my belly button and over my increasingly scarred stomach, and finally down to my cottage-cheesed backside, lumpy thighs, and strong, thick calves. Those are all of my pieces.

I don’t know what it looks like altogether; I don’t know what I look like altogether.

And if I can barely stand to look at myself in a mirror, the idea of loving myself, being positive and unapologetic and enthusiastic about my body, is something I still can’t seem to grasp. I can’t look at myself and say, I am sexy. The mere thought of those words crossing my lips sends me into a bout of nervous giggles, my body responding to the awkward, uncomfortable feeling bubbling deep in my belly. But really, more than it feeling uncomfortable, it just feels like a straight up lie. It feels like something I don’t deserve. Like something I’m forcing upon myself because I know I’m supposed to be believe it. I conquered her. I conquered her and (at least some of) my demons and I’ve come so far. I’m supposed to be cured. I’m supposed to be beyond this. I’m supposed to be a body-positivity warrior. I’m supposed to be an example of recovery. And yet… and yet I still can’t look at my whole self in the mirror. I still can’t see myself as desirable or wanted. I still sometimes question what recovery even means.

I don't hate food anymore, I promise. But I think, I think I still might hate me a little bit. I’ve accepted me. I’ve decided me is good enough, most days. But mostly, I’ve come to a point where me, my body, is just this thing that accompanies the rest of who I am. I tolerate it. I accept it. But I don’t love it. I don’t embrace it. I don’t even like it.

And I’m not sure what to do with that revelation. After all of the healing and the tears and the therapy, after conquering all of those demons, I still might have a crap ton more work left to do, and I’m not sure what the next step is. But even more terrifying, what if the steps never end? What if recovery is not what people make you believe it to be; not a linear progress; not a you-were-sick-and-now-you-are-better-and-everything-is-sunshine-and-rainbows; not black and white?

Maybe recovery is shades of gray. Darker spots here, lighter shades there, constantly in flux.

I never did like gray very much.

Tattoos and Trauma: I Choose My Permanence

People often ask me what my tattoo means. The truth is that it means so many things that I couldn't sum it all up in a neat little package to convenience a curious mind. Forward motion, I tell them. Struggle, I tell them. But it means so much more.

People often ask me with their hooded eyes and tilt of glance if it's really such a great idea to invest, both money and potential professional integrity, in the eventual sprawling sleeve that I have in mind for my right arm.

People often ask me if I have tattoo regret. They suggest that the permanence of ink on my body is directly in contrast to the impermanence in our minds. What they don't understand is that a tattoo, to me, is so much more than ink.

It is a declaration. A rebellion. A statement.

My body has been taken from me in so many ways; by myself; by others.

I took my body from me. My preoccupation with the idea of beauty, and the idea that I did not fit that mold, took my body from me. Indulging in these destructive behaviors, a restrictive lifestyle encouraged by weight-loss cheerleaders, took my body from me. I took my body from me when I denied what it needed, ignored it when it begged for me to pay attention. I will not apologize for the ways in which I tried to heal my brokenness. But I cannot ignore the inevitable dissociation and detachment from my body that I engaged in under the guise of fixing myself.

Fear took my body from me. My childhood memories are dripping with trauma, like sweet viscous honey that clings to every crevice and corner. Manipulation and what most would define as psychological abuse plagued the insides of what was supposed to be my safe haven. Anger. Screaming voices, constant tears, thinly veiled threats of violence, and incessant hiding from the shadows that filled the corridors with their full-bodied presence. A constant overwhelming fear that filled my chest like a rapidly inflating balloon, frantically fluttering and always ready to pop.

Violence took my body from me. An adult figure meant to protect and serve, an adult figure meant to mentor and keep me safe, encroaching on my ever-changing body and striking when insecurities loomed heavy. Making me feel wanted and loved while twisting affection for their own desires. Trapping me in a web of self-doubt and convincing me it was what I wanted. Pulling at puppet strings that had been put in place throughout many vulnerable years, their just-our-little-secret promises and behind-closed-doors kisses ensuring silence and self-hatred.

People say that violence is permanently imprinted on the self. That surviving leaves its mark, whether you want it to or not… that your emotional scars leave a physical presence, and that you have no say in the matter. It is a part of you; your victimization and trauma are a part of you, forever emblazoned on your supple skin, marring the perfection and causing others to look away in sadness from the things that hurt you.

This is not your choice. Many would say that this is your burden to bear, your scar to show. These people would be wrong.

I choose my scars; I choose my survival; I choose my permanence.

A tattoo is a choice; surviving violence is not. And I would much rather make my choice to put whatever the hell I want on my body, than accept that what I have lived through has permanently scarred me.

I get tattoos because I want to reclaim my skin.

I get tattoos because I want to celebrate my body.

I get tattoos because I have finally given myself permission to view myself as a yet-to-be-conceived masterpiece.

I love tattoos because I want to dictate what stays permanently etched into my body. So many things have touched me in my life. People. Pain. Caresses and embraces. Violence and harshness. So many things that I had no control over. So many ways that I attempted to mold myself to fit what I thought I was supposed to be.

But now? Now I get to reclaim that. Reclaim my body, in all the ways it's been taken from me. From societal standards of beauty, to the man that touched me who never should have, who made my skin his before I knew how to live in it myself... I take my body back from all of these things and paint my body like a canvas. A beautiful piece of art that I get to design and manipulate and use to visually tell my story. Brush strokes here and there to show the world who I am before I even open my mouth.

People often ask me if I know what I'm doing.

My answer? Abso-fucking-lutely.

 

In Defense of Baggy Clothes: How Drowning In My Jeans Helped Me Re-Find Me

I’ve been told my whole young-adult life that I dress well for my weight.

In other words, no one ever guesses how heavy I actually am. I “carry it well,” as they say. From what I understand, this is something I should be very proud of. My mother always taught me that there was some kind of an art in looking more svelte than you actually were, and magazines and the fashion industry would have me believe the same thing from a young age. Wear more black. Never wear stripes. Don’t even think about a crop top. Wear flared jeans to balance out your hips. Look for an a-line dresses to cinch the waist and flow over the tummy.

Don’t worry, I’ve got more.

These requirements for my dress came from so many different directions, and eventually it was just second nature. What I chose to wear wasn’t about what I felt confident in, or what exemplified my personal style or personhood. It was just something that, on the hanger, I knew would be more figure-flattering than the alternative.

Well, I’ve come pretty far since my middle school days of rifling through Kohl’s and Macy’s for something that fit my very confusingly shaped body. And all I have to say is: Fuck figure flattering.

Excuse my French (who are we kidding, I curse like a motherfucker), but in all seriousness, down with that phrase. Down to the depths of hell with that stupid, stupid idea that what you wear is not dictated by what you feel best in, but by what others will view you best in.

I’ve discussed my distaste for the idea that my body, as a woman, exists for the consumption and pleasures of man. (See here if you’re unfamiliar.) Patriarchy is a bitch that way. And as such, by telling me that what I wear must frame my body in an attractive way is only perpetuating this issue. I exist for you to look at, so I must make the product pretty. Because if they don’t want me, if my mere existence is not enough and my sex appeal is not enough, then what exactly am I worth?

See the problem? I sure do hope so.

One of the biggest figure-flattering no-no’s is baggy clothes. While shopping around as an anxious middle schooler, anything that deliberately poofed around my curves was not at all allowed. As a young girl growing up with a very dysfunctional relationship with her body though, baggy clothes were the only things I felt safe in. They held me in their swaths of warm fabric and added cushion between me and the rest of the world. They let me hide myself within their folds and hoods and pockets. They were what I felt comfortable in.

Now, to be fair, that certainly is not a healthy way to relate to clothes. I wore an oversized sweatshirt and ill-fitting jeans for the larger part of my middle school career because I was terrified of people looking at my body in any capacity. Clearly that was something that would need to be dealt with.

But to me, it was a safety blanket. And a literal one at that. It was what made me feel protected in a world that constantly made me feel as though I was about to be attacked at any moment.

As I’ve explained though, this type of dress was unacceptable. My mother, in her well-meaning attempts to make me comfortable with myself and in my body, eventually took me to find clothes that didn’t obscure the person underneath them. And for a few years I walked around feeling uncomfortable and practically naked in completely modest, but properly fitted, attire.

I think that looking back, the most disturbing fashion choices I made were during a period of my life in which I lost the most weight in the smallest amount of time, namely my junior year of high school, and subsequently spiraled into a vortex that would eventually be my full-blown eating disorder. It was not that I had picked out horrifying outfits. In fact, they were generally fashion choices that would have received a sartorial nod from the masses. Buying them gave me an adrenaline rush, a satisfaction of finally fitting into the “right” clothes in the store and having too many things to choose from because I was finally the right size and shape for whatever was deemed most attractive at the time. I swear, for about a year or so, shopping became an Olympic event that I excelled at. What used to be a horrible endeavor that often ended in tears was now a breeze, something that filled me with pride and a sense of accomplishment every time I slid on a smaller sized bodycon dress. The bit that I cringe at most, however, is that those choices that I made, those clothes that I decided to put on my body, were not made because those were the clothes I felt comfortable in; the clothes that screamed me. Instead, these were clothes that I knew screamed mainstream attractive white girl. They were clothes that I had been taught my whole life were the “right” things to wear. They were tight. They were short. But they were so not me.

I wore these pieces anyway though, flaunted them in a way that begged attention for my triumph over being fat.

Because you see, the thing was, I finally thought I had a right to wear those clothes and feel attractive while doing so. I finally, to some degree, looked like all of the other girls. So I could leave my safety blanket at home and wear something that showed a little skin. I earned it.

And yet, when I look back, I can only remember how uncomfortable wearing those clothes made me feel. Constant tugging on short skirts. Persistent pulling at tight tops. Never at ease with what I was walking around in. But I was to be consumed. I was putting myself on display. I finally deserved to be put on display. And so that was what I did.

It is only in the last two years or so that I have allowed myself to truly re-embrace my love of baggy clothes. What was once a way to hide myself has become a way to express myself. Sure, there is still some element of feeling more comfortable covered up than being exposed to the world. And I’m working on that, I really am. I push myself every day to be more comfortable in my own skin and have been daring myself to bare the belly and release the thighs a lot over the past few months. I like crop-tops and I will not lie, and I should feel as entitled to wear them as any other girl out there. It’s hard, but I’m working on it. But the driving force behind my love of all things oversized and baggy, the thing that pushes me to purchase those boyfriend-style jeans that are really way out of my price range but boy are they gorgeous, is that they feel like me. Plus, what I really want to do is just walk around in pajamas all day. Or at least things that feel like pajamas. I will literally purchase clothes that I find simultaneously adorable, and at the same comfort level of sweat pants. A girl wants to be comfy all day e’ry day, attractiveness and level of flattery be damned. And who can fault me for that?

We need to stop wearing things we think are flattering just because, and start wearing things that make us feel like mother-fucking warriors. Goddesses. Mermaids (I’m very partial to mermaids). I don’t feel like a warrior in a dress that pinches and cinches. I don’t feel like a goddess in jeans that leaves indents on my skin. I don’t feel like a mermaid… well actually, my hair helps with that one. But moving on.

So fuck figure flattering. Fuck buying a dress that hits you at just the right spot on your thigh to “lengthen” your legs. Fuck buying shorts that cover your knees because you’ve always hated how they looked. Fuck avoiding crop tops because, damn it, you feel sexy as fuck and a tummy never killed nobody. Fuck feeling the need to conform to whatever sartorial standard is setting the stage at this exact moment. Fuck letting other people tell you what is right for you and your body.

And fuck anyone who gives you that sideways glance and says, “I don’t know. It just doesn’t flatter you.”

You wear that damn dress with the cutest print plastered head to toe. You wear those overalls that make you look like an adorable frump who just walked off the farm. You wear those shorts that accentuate just how big your ass really is.

Because our bodies are our bodies, and no item of clothing is ever going to change that.