Tag Archives: Fashion

Eating Disorder Recovery: Clothing On A Budget

You’ve made it to Part 3!

As tricky as general life and food are, clothing is no less traumatizing. What once fit suddenly doesn’t. You watch the numbers in your pants change week after week. Early in my recovery, I could fluctuate 2+ sizes in a single day due to bloating. Clothing was not fun.

Here’s the thing: whether you are on a tight budget or have limitless funds at your disposal, you’re not going to want to buy too many clothes during the recovery process. Yes, you need to accommodate your changing body (ugh, this is starting to sound like a puberty pamphlet), but the more you buy, the more you’ll have to throw out when your size changes. There are ways around this, however.

  1. Stop reading fashion magazines/blogs/etc.  Not only are they bad for your self esteem, but you’ll just make yourself miserable knowing you’re not able to stay “on trend”.
  2. Leggings. Buy the biggest size you can get away with now, and they’ll last you through many pounds of weight gain. But please: leggings are not pants (unless you are going to/leaving/in a yoga/fitness class). Make sure your bum is covered.
  3. Dresses. These are more forgiving than just about any other clothing item. They fit through many sizes and can be paired with tights and sweaters to get you through many seasons.
  4. Jeans. Yes, this is the one thing you’ll need to buy over and over again. Everyone needs a pair of jeans. Get rid of them as soon as they don’t fit, and try to limit yourself to one pair at each size (less to throw out).
  5. Flowy tops. I’ve been accused many times of hiding in my clothes. I am the queen of “you can’t see my silhouette”. Yes, I’m uncomfortable with my body, but also, the same flowy tops have gotten me through many size changes. It’s economical. If I had purchased fitted tops at my smallest, I would have had to throw a whole lot more clothes out.
  6. Keep it simple. If you stick with basic cuts, classic pieces, and minimal patterns,  you can get away with wearing the same things over and over again. Accessorize to make it fresh.
  7. Thrift stores, sale racks, hand-me-downs. These will be your best friends. Another great option is having a clothing exchange. My friend Tess’ mom Nicky (Hi ladies!) hosts one twice a year, and I always get lots of great new stuff. Everyone brings things they don’t want anymore and throws them in a pile. Then, everyone climbs in and hunts for buried treasure. I scored an awesome pair of Theory dress pants last time.
  8. Fall in love with shoes. My friend Michelle calls shoes “the great equalizers”. They fit at any size. If you have cash to burn (ha!) focus your spending on shoes.

I waited until my weight was stable for 6 months before I started buying clothing that fell outside these rules. Sometimes I even show my waist. It really sucked wearing the same things over and over again, but I’d ask myself, would you rather have that new shirt or a fifth of a therapy session? Therapy almost always won out. Making it my choice made it easier when the green-eyed monster reared his ugly head. So my last tip, borrowed from a great survivor/thriver:

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Eating Disorder Recovery On A Budget

Settle in, folks. This one is going to be a series.

There is a major problem with how people with eating disorders are treated. I recently read a story about a girl in the United States who died from her eating disorder while her mom was away learning to be a truck driver. It was the only job she could find that would give her necessary insurance to get her daughter treatment. It’s not an uncommon story.

In Canada, it doesn’t matter if you have insurance. There are too few resources here and, as a result, anyone without a whole lot of private funding gets put on waiting lists for 6 months – 2 years. It can take a lot less time than that to die of an eating disorder. And even if you get approved to be sent to an American treatment centre, your insurance can back out after on a technicality and leave you stuck with a bill for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Having found myself fired from my job because I “no longer met the requirements” for my job (ie. your bones are creepy, so you can’t work here any more), I had zero money and a big problem to tackle. I was too sick to work, and was on long waiting lists for treatment. I had to figure out a lot of things really quickly. This is what worked/didn’t work for me. You may disagree with what I’m saying, but I invite you to take the parts you like and throw the rest away.

  1. Decide how badly you want recovery. You’re going to have to do many things you don’t want to do. You’re going to have to get really honest with people you don’t want knowing anything about yourself. You’re going to have to humble yourself time and time again. If shame is a big trigger for you (I know it is for me), get used to it. 
  2. Find any and all (legal) sources of money. Get on unemployment. See if you qualify for disability. This is the tricky one: come clean with family members about what you’re going through, and find out if they’re able/willing to help you cover costs.
  3. Try to find a therapist who operates on a sliding scale. They charge according to financial need. (If you’re in Toronto, drop me a line. I know a couple of good ones and can point you in their direction.) If you already have a therapist, you’re going to have to decide how important it is for you to stay with him/her, or if you can look for someone who charges less.
  4. Get ready to make sacrifices. Food, housing, and therapy. Those are the things you need. The rest is optional. Seriously. Get ready to dig into the back of your cupboard to use the ends of all the shampoo bottles, etc. you have stashed away. I started this in May and made it til Christmas before I had to start using Vaseline instead of moisturizer. (Do not recommend. Break-out city.)
  5. Google. It will be your best friend. Search out drugstore, grocery store, etc flyers so you know what weeks you can buy the necessities on sale. Find free festivals, movie screenings, etc. in your city so you have at least some “entertainment” options. Enter contests. You can win some fun stuff.
  6. Sell off anything you don’t need and won’t miss. Save the cash. You’ll need it.
  7. Learn to knit. It’s a great way to pass all the time you’ll have not working, not going on expensive outings, not shopping, and not engaging in eating disordered behaviors. Also, it’s an inexpensive way to do Christmas/Birthdays/etc. I learned to knit in October, and had 5 scarves ready for gifts by Christmas.
  8. Give of yourself. You may not have money, but that doesn’t mean you have nothing to offer. Help people out without expecting anything in return, and karma can surprise you. Not only will you feel better for having contributed something, but I have done “good deeds” that led to jobs 10 years later, and have volunteered for things that have turned into paying jobs. Don’t do more than you are able, but know that you don’t always have to be paid “now”. Karma’s got your back.

These are the basics to start you off. Upcoming in the series: Food, Clothes, and Yoga on a budget. Anything I’ve missed?

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Whatever Lola Wants

This weekend I took my dance students shopping for their recital costumes. We were on a mission: a very specific vision and very minimal cost. We got what we needed: great, really inexpensive dresses.

I also bought a shirt.

Why does this information deserve its own line? Because it’s not a shirt that I will wear to work. It’s not a shirt that I need for any specific event. It’s not a well-made, high-quality, all-season, ridiculously marked down steal of a shirt.

It’s a pretty, gauze-y, color that I like, only good for summer and will probably fall apart by the end of the season, regular-priced shirt.

It’s a “want” shirt, not a “need” shirt.

I’m really bad with wants. I don’t remember the last time I bought an article of clothing just because I wanted it.

Good reasons to buy things:

  1. To replace a wardrobe staple that no longer fits (jeans, t-shirts)
  2. To replace a wardrobe staple because it broke (boots, purse)
  3. I need it for work (see prior “jeans, t-shirts”)
  4. I need it for health reasons/athletic pursuits (leggings for yoga, ballet slippers)

Apart from that, nearly every item of clothing I’ve gotten in years has been a hand-me-down. Those I’ve actually paid for have come from the sale rack.

But the fact that it meets none of the “rules” isn’t the issue here. That’s not really why this shirt freaks me out. It freaks me out because the only reason I bought this shirt was because I wanted the shirt.

To me, meeting this “want” is like declaring to the world “I think I deserve this shirt”. That’s not okay with me. I’ve only recently come to terms with meeting my needs – not because I think I deserve them met, but because I’m a burden to others when I’m not meeting my needs. With wants, nobody but me benefits from them.

Part of this comes from financial instability. Until I got my last raise and my hours bumped up, this $30 shirt would have eaten up nearly all of my remaining weekly income after paying for therapy and my bills. That would have meant no food for the week, no toiletries, no anything. I got used to my needs barely being met and my wants being a non-issue. It reinforced my belief that I didn’t deserve those things. People around me got their needs AND wants met, so obviously I wasn’t as worthy as them.

I saw this online today:

It’s very true. Nothing can ever happen unless we ask for it to happen. When I was in theatre school, my vocal tutorial teacher asked me point blank what role I wanted in the upcoming season. I danced around the question, but she wouldn’t let me off the hook. I finally named what I wanted, and that’s the role I got. It didn’t hurt that the director of that show actually thought I was talented.

But my question is: how am I supposed to feel like I deserve things I want? Going after them feels selfish, and getting the things I want makes me feel so guilty it almost doesn’t seem worth it. Does anyone else struggle with this? I want the noise in my head to stop, but unless I can believe that I deserve it to, I don’t know if it ever will . . .

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If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say

. . . shut the fuck up.

Ok. So y’all know I’m all about speaking your mind but, as with so many things in life, there is a line.

Things have changed a lot in recent years. In days of yore, if you wanted to say something bad about someone, you had to do it verbally or in writing. “Thy face causes offense to mine eye” still hurt, but had a much smaller audience.

From foundmagazine.com

Nowadays, judgement and bullying have become a part of popular culture. The internet allows for anonymity, and anyone can post anything about anyone for anyone else to read. Any. Perez Hilton can write (or draw) anything with this little white cyber-pen about anyone he wants. While I understand he’s gotten better (fewer dripping orifices nowadays), he currently has “Madonna’s Worst Looks Through The Years” as one of his top stories. This works because there is an audience for it.  Same goes for E!’s Fashion Police. Joan Rivers has taken her red carpet acid tongue to a more removed setting, and she and her cronies sit and tear apart all of Hollywood’s fashion choices, crowning a “Fash-ho of the Week”. On the red carpet, I can virtually guarantee that everyone who steps out of a limo got dressed thinking, “I look AMAZING in this (dress, tux, swan . . . )”. I don’t care how famous you are, those words hurt.

*NB I’ve deliberately not externally linked to Perez or Fashion Police. If you want to read these things, it’s your business, but I don’t want to associate this blog with that kind of poison. 

Our generation has grown up with this kind of mentality surrounding us, and it has become a societal “norm”. We, as a culture, feel like we have license to say exactly what we’re thinking on any topic without thinking about the consequences.

Today’s rantings are inspired by two such situations of bullying, both directed at one of my dearest friends. (He’s one of those rare “soldiers” who fights alongside me (on my behalf), and I’m forever grateful to have him in my life.) A couple of years ago, Daniel was on a blind date. He had always struggled with his weight, but he is very handsome, dresses with style, and always looks great. His date showed up at the restaurant, and without so much as a “hello” said, “Nope. Too fat,” and walked away.

A statement like that would crush a lot of people. I have heard time and time again about people who have had similar experiences that have led to eating disorders, depression, and even suicide. Daniel, however, chose to use the experience to turn his life around. He focused on getting healthy, not on getting thin, and is now in incredible shape and is a personal trainer himself (and many other things – this boy is GOING places!).

Yesterday, he received a message on one of his online profiles:

“You aren’t athletic, you’re fat. And what’s with the toque? We all know you’re bald.”

I would like to start off by saying that I have hugged those muscles many a time, and there’s nothing fat about them. And yes, Daniel shaves his head, so he is bald. He also enjoys a toque (Canadian word for winter hat), as it is WINTER here and that gets cold on a shaved head.

When did this kind of attack become okay? It shocks me that anyone feels that they have the right to say something like that to another human being.

This made me think, however. How often do we sit with friends and gossip about those around us? We judge the hair, clothes, etc. of people around us: strangers on the street, acquaintances, and even family and friends. If you are exempt from this generalization, my apologies and congratulations. You are a better person than I am. Do you ever stop to think, though, “If my friend talks to me like this about her friends, how does she talk about me when I’m not there?” Is it any wonder so many of us have trust issues?

Once again, I’m issuing a challenge: Let’s stop ourselves before we judge, gossip about, or bully another person. Just don’t say it. If someone else is talking unkindly, let’s not engage. Then, let’s work on our thoughts. It’s not enough just to stop the verbal attacks. Thoughts have energy, and are you really going to invite all that negativity into your brain over an ugly pair of shoes?

And maybe, just maybe, once we’re thinking more kindly about others, we can start to turn that kindness on ourselves.

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I Just Don’t Get It.

I really don’t. I know what it‘s called. I know the chain of events that led to it being a featured player in my life. I’m told that if I just do everything I’m supposed to, it‘ll get easier over time. I started this blog, in part, to help explain it to the “normies”. But I just don’t understand this disease.

How does the brain decide to go against nature, telling you that everything will seem better if you just don’t eat? That you’ll feel better about yourself if you just throw up? That the only way you’ll be a worthwhile person is if you exercise until you pass out, then stand up and start all over again?

How can I wear a pair of pants that fit comfortably in the morning, then hold them up later in front of a mirror and decide that there’s no way my ass will fit inside them? I KNOW my ass fits. I JUST took the pants off. Yet standing in front of the mirror, my body looks a full two sizes bigger than the pants.

When you don’t understand what you’re trying to fight, every day is SO frustrating. It’s like that SNL sketch where Chris Farley finds himself a contestant on a Japanese game show. You can watch it here. In the event that SNL takes down this video, I’ll give you the basic rundown: Chris Farley’s character doesn’t speak Japanese, and it’s soon apparent that any wrong answer by a contestant will result in said contestant being forced to cut off a body part. It’s funnier than it sounds. Farley lucks into the right answer several times simply by repeating the last thing the host says, but eventually not understanding what’s being asked of him leads to his being electrocuted.

I don’t speak Japanese. Well, I know some basics, how to swear a little, count to four, and, oddly enough, I know the Japanese word for “squirrel”. But that’s beside the point. If I were trying to solve a problem in Japanese, I would likely not be successful. I don’t understand what’s being asked of me. The same goes here. I know there is a problem to be solved, but I don’t understand it. More often than not, the effort involved in trying leaves me crumpled in a heap, crying.

Usually at this point in a post, I have some clever twist or profound thought that sums everything up in a tidy little package (I suspect I mixed too many metaphors in that sentence . . . ) In this case, I’ve got nothing. All I can offer today is the knowledge that, whether you’re trying to understand your own eating disorder or that of a loved one, if you feel confused, frustrated, and at times, hopeless, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Sometimes, that’s all any of us has to depend on.

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For those of you following the saga . . .

. . . I FINALLY SAW LIZA MINNELLI PERFORM LIVE!!!!!!!!!

I know this has very little to do with anything I normally blog about, but I thought you should know. You know. Since she is one of my most used tags.

She was great, btw. I’ve always said that I needed to see her before one of us kicked the bucket, and we both survived! Her, 65 years, me 26 (almost 27 . . . the tickets were an early birthday present . . . don’t worry, still time for you to shower me with gifts for November 21st . . . no? No takers?)

Yes, I wore sequins and an oversized men’s shirt a la Liza, and she wore much the same.

One thing she said last night stuck out in my mind, because it sounds a whole lot like what I say a lot of the time:

‎”Some people collect stamps . . . I collect lyrics. When I was younger, I would have all these emotions that, well, everybody has them, but I didn’t know what to do with them, so I would find a song that described how I felt” ~Liza

So that’s your wisdom du jour from the great one (Liza, not me). Can’t figure out what you’re feeling? Sing a fucking song.

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WTFashion?

I know what you’re thinking . . . eating disorder blog about models. WRONG!!!!! (P. S. There are two subtle Liza Minnelli references in that opening line . . . a cookie to anyone who can identify them both . . . no takers?)

Anyhow, a few weeks ago, my friend Candace brought a major fashion faux pas to my attention. No, not wearing athletic sneakers with jeans and graphic tees (especially if the jeans are just a little bit too short for the shoes). Trust me. This is even more fucked up than that.

Then today (yesterday? Today. “Holidays” all roll into one when you’re boycotting . . . ) I came across another little gem that bears a rant. Here are two big fuck ups from the world of fashion.

I’ll go with the most recent first. I found this on three websites, EmpowHerABC News, and FitPerez:

Image from "Ricky's"

This is “Anna Rexia”, a Halloween costume from a store called “Ricky’s”. Yes, that is a measuring tape around her neck and waist. The costume description:

“If Anna Rexia doesn’t want to put it in her mouth there is nothing you can say to change her mind. You can stop trying to sell her on the point that there aren’t any carbs and it’s all protein because Anna Rexia just doesn’t want anything to do with it. Make no bones about it this girl is as disciplined as they can get. Anna Rexia costume is anything but bare bones! Costume includes headband, choker neckband, removable ‘Anna Rexia’ badge and ribbon tie belt. If you’re starving for attention, this costume will be sure to put you on top of the world.”

WTF.

The second fashion disaster comes from a company called “Teen Modelling” on the website “Zazzle”. (Found on The Daily Mail)

From the Daily Mail

Yep. They’re marketing this for children. For those of you not familiar with this saying, it’s a “lifestyle motto” from the model Kate Moss. Rather than blather on about why these things are fucked up, I’m going to take another tactic. (besides, I already filed this under “Rantings” not “Blatherings”)

I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you how “good” skinny feels.

Skinny is waking up surprised that you slept at all, because usually your body is so out of balance you seldom get more than 2-3 hours. You maybe can’t feel certain limbs, because no matter how thick your mattress is, its direct pressure on your bones has cut off blood flow and bruised your shoulders, hips, knees, and ribs.

You probably start to cry, because you’re so hungry, but know you won’t be allowed to eat anything, at least not until you’ve burned off enough calories to “earn” your food. You stand up and black out for a while, because your heart can’t adjust well to sitting or standing.

You have pillows strategically placed around your house, because the couch, your computer chair, the stationary bike are all too painful to sit on directly. You carefully weigh, measure, and chop your food, because you know if you do one thing wrong or out of order, you won’t be allowed to eat it that day. You sit on your pillow, exhausted from your work out, miserable from your morning weigh in, and eat your small bowl of whatever shit you’re allowed as slowly as possible, because a) it’s the last thing you’ll eat for a while and you’ve got to make it last, and b) you won’t be allowed to sit anymore once it’s done.

You don’t do much during the day, but every minute is occupied. You can’t go out with friends, because they’ll want to eat or go to a movie, and that’s too much sitting. Any time away from your exercise means making it up later, no matter how late you have to stay up.

If you do leave the house, because you have an unavoidable commitment like a doctor’s appointment, you’ll probably have to walk there, never mind how many hours away it is. If, by some miracle, you’re allowed to ride the subway, you’ll regret it every time the train bounces and jostles, because you’ll have to keep checking to make sure you haven’t broken a bone against the hard seat backs.

You’ll cry climbing stairs because you feel like you’ll die before you reach the top. You stop being able to digest food and liquid and end up bloated, like a pregnant 8-year-old. You’ll never be warm, not even on the hottest days. People will stare at you, whisper, glare, or make comments outright. They’d be surprised to know that skinny does not equal deaf. You’re terrified that you’ll pass out in public, because that means people will either try to feed you juice or take you to the hospital. You’ll hide from everyone, and feel the most alone you’ve ever felt in your life.

In short, skinny feels really good. Really. And while I still don’t know if I like most food, I’m pretty sure even dog food tastes better than skinny felt for me.

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