Getting dressed has become such an ordeal lately.
I moved back to Guam with just one suitcase with all my belongings (clothes, shoes, and books included), but I’ve bought a few tops and bottoms over the past year.
Since last September, I’ve gained at least 10 pounds. I probably lost 10 pounds of muscle and gained 20 pounds of fat total, because I stopped working out and I used to be on a fairly strict workout regimen in 2016.
Now the clothes I brought over from California don’t even fit me anymore, and I’ve had to give away a few pairs of my favorite jeans because they can’t possibly button around my waist.
I feel bad every time I need to get dressed because almost nothing fits me right anymore. I end up changing clothes ten times before going anywhere, scrutinizing myself in the mirror. I often just give up and wear the same outfits repeatedly, usually the ones that hide my stomach most.
By no means am I the slightest bit overweight — I’m average for my height now, for the first time in my life.
But the problem I came to terms with four years ago has crept back into my life, this time stronger than I’ve felt it in years.
It’s no big secret that I had (and still have) body dysmorphic disorder, and am recovering from anorexia nervosa. I wrote a blog post about learning to love my body in 2013 after I realized I had a problem and I was underweight. I shared about my body dysmorphia on Instagram last year, while I was coming to terms with my changing body after college.
In 2013, I realized I had body dysmorphic disorder and had been starving myself for a year or so to stay thin. I was so scared to weigh over 100 pounds, so I checked the scale obsessively to make sure I was at 99 at the most. I weighed about 97 pounds and I’m about 5’4-5’5 in height.
I took pleasure in buying XXS clothes. I was so proud of myself when I bought a 00 pair of jean shorts at American Eagle (I’d be surprised if I could fit one thigh in it today). Some days, I’d work out at the gym and my only meal that day would be a couple of Hot Cheetos and Sour Patch Kids.
It’s weird because I’m never really aware of it or in control of it. It’s kind of like the voice in your head that tells you to do any task, like when to brush your teeth or when it’s time to go to bed.
It tells me not to eat because it knows I’m going to get “fat.”
When I look down at my stomach, it tells me I’m disgusting.
When I wash my body in the shower, it tells me my mid section is too big and soft.
When I look at myself in clothes that don’t fit right, it tells me to lose weight.
When I look in the mirror, it tells me I’m ugly.
And I listen. Every time.
Over the years, I’ve gotten better at telling myself it’s wrong. I don’t know why it’s there or how it came to be.
But it gets worse when I’m going through periods of high emotional stress — like difficult breakups in the past. Now I think it’s back because of work stress, anxiety, and other personal issues.
I let myself go a bit over the past year, eating whatever junk food I want, eating socially (because it’s Guam, and that’s what you do), and snacking like crazy at night.
So now the voice has gotten meaner than ever.
I weighed myself at 119 last month. I couldn’t believe it.
I told myself it was fine. I mean I’m average now. Is that really so bad? I’m still skinnier than a lot of people my age, so it isn’t a big deal. And I’m getting older so my metabolism is slowing down. It’s normal.
Still, I found myself measuring my waist every day in the morning (since you’re supposed to be your thinnest when you wake up).
Almost 29 inches. You fucking fat bitch.
I pinch my rolls and feel devastated.
The following weeks:
Still too fat.
27 and three quarters of an inch. Better. But still too fat.
I’ll be happy when I’m at 26 again, I tell myself every morning.
I nod with affirmation at the mirror thinking, yes, then I’ll be happy.
But another voice in my head (damn I sound crazy with all these voices) says softly, but when you were a 25 waist, were you happy?
I pause to listen.
No, I wasn’t happy back then. I was hungry.
Not just for food, but for satisfaction with myself.
After staring at myself tonight in old clothes that are too tight, examining my belly profile from different angles, I finally told myself, fuck it.
Even if I did it the healthy way by eating right, cutting out snacking before bed (which I should still probably do because it’s a bad habit in general), and exercising, I would still be measuring myself. Even if I hit 26, hell 25, would I really be happy?
I know if I monitor myself thinking that being skinnier will make me happy, instead of dealing with the anxiety, stress, and insecurities I have internally, I will never be happy.
I need to throw out whatever unrealistic expectations I have for my body.
I’m 24 years old. I’m not 19 anymore.
I have belly rolls, stretch marks, and cellulite. I feel my fat shake on my body when I walk. I feel my thighs rub together.
But is that all really so bad? And who said it was bad to begin with?
For the first time in my life, I’m finally able to wear my bras without a huge gaping hole at the top. I’m finally fuller. I’m not stick-thin and my teenage body wouldn’t be attainable even if I threw up every day and starved myself.
I finally look full and healthy.
I look the way Woman Chloe should be, and I need to stop hanging onto Teenage Chloe.
I need to let go because the only person standing in the way of me feeling beautiful and happy is me — and that tiny mean voice inside that tells me I’m not enough.