When in recovery from an eating disorder or healing from years of deprivation and dieting, your mind and body will start to repair and restore and with that comes both physical and mental changes. The physical changes are a reflection of an increase in nourishment and your body restoring to a place where it can function optimally.
We understand how hard it can be to undergo body changes and we encourage you to remember that you are so, so much more than a body. You put in the hard work in your recovery, it is important to find clothes that honor your now body. Clothes are also meant to fit your body, not the other way around!
7 Steps to Purchasing New Clothes for Your Here & Now Body
1) Make a plan with your treatment team
The first and most important step is determining if you’re ready to start shopping. Your team is there to develop strategies with you before the day comes. The team might recommend breathing exercises or challenging your negative thoughts with the progress you’ve made. This process can be overwhelming, so planning ahead is critical.
2) Make a list
Go through your closet and determine what you are exactly shopping for. By making a list of what you need, this will help to reduce anxiety while in the stores. Shirts and pants may seem obvious, but don’t forget about the other necessities: underwear, bras, socks!
People try to hold on to old clothes to remind them of a time that once was, but those clothes may not be honoring who you are right now. If there is still a lot of life left in your clothes, try selling or donating them. Apps like Poshmark and Facebook Marketplace are great places to sell recycled clothing. If the donation route seems like a better option for you, spots like Goodwill and Salvation Army are always accepting.
3) Determine where to shop
There is no reason to try to get a whole new wardrobe in one day. Pick one or two stores you are familiar with and start there. Or if heading into stores feels too overwhelming, shop online.
Online shopping can be tough to gage fit and comfort. We recommend reading the reviews to help you determine the right fit. If your budget can tolerate a bit of extra spending upfront, it might also be helpful to order 1-2 sizes of a few items so that you can try them on and then return what doesn’t work. We love the online resale site ThredUp, which offers inclusive sizing, low prices, and a wide variety of styles.
Websites such as Dia & Co offer some super cute fashions to fit a range of body sizes and shapes.
4) Shop for comfort
We all want to stay fashionable and in with the latest trends, but when clothes aren’t comfortable, it interferes with our confidence. It is also important to remember that all stores have different sizing guides and the same size does not translate from brand to brand. When choosing clothes, ask yourself “does this look comfortable” or “how does the material feel” and try to worry less about the size.
5) Bring support
As we mentioned, shopping can be triggering so make sure to bring someone along who understands your recovery journey. Whoever you decide to bring along, be sure to let them know some of the signs that you might be struggling so they will know when and how best to intervene if needed.
6) Plan a snack
It’s important to make sure you continue to fuel your body every few hours and not let the distraction of shopping get in the way. When your energy is low, it is easy to get frustrated and irritable. Plan to at least bring a snack to refuel your body. Plus stopping to eat is a great way to recap what you have already gotten and what is left on your list.
7) Take it easy
And finally, be easy on yourself! There is no need to rush and do it all in one day. Pace yourself and aim for an attainable goal. Even if you get overwhelmed after one shop, remember there's always tomorrow to try again.
As you work to navigate body changes in recovery, it is important to focus on how you are treating your here & now body. Take some time to reflect on the words you use to describe your body and how you talk to yourself. Consider working with your treatment team to help you cultivate a bit more compassion. This is hard work, and you are doing great!