When you first see the title of this blog post, I’m sure the image that comes to mind is an emaciated yet 6 foot tall runway model. But I promise you that this post is about something different. There are thousands of articles online that have to do with the fashion and runway industry and the social correlation of eating disorders, so I am not going to write about that. And honestly I really, really don’t want to.
This post is about the evolution of thought processes that I’ve gone through that has eventually led me to the idea that fashion is a means for unapologetic self expression. I have always had an individualistic style but that “style” has spent a lot of time living in my head and not being shown.
Stage One : At the beginning of this thoughtful evolution, I viewed the idea of being “beautiful” as something that had to be earned. If I wasn’t a certain body type then I simply could not wear clothes made for, what my naive little mind thought of as, pretty people. If I could just loose weight or completely change the structure of my face (which is obviously super healthy for a 13 year old to do) then maybe I could earn the right to buy that pretty V-neck top with the flowers on it. And until I reached this standard of pretty, I would wear big t-shirts and sweat pants. Even though there is nothing wrong with wearing sweats, the reason I was doing it was wrong. I wanted to wear dresses, and jeans and necklaces, and I denied myself of that desire. Which in retrospect is completely ridiculous. This was the self expression of a girl greatly depressed.
Stage Two: As time and my ED recovery evolved, I entered a new stage. I would be damned if I let anything keep me from self expression. However, where I was in life led me to wear a lot of black and heavy eye makeup. I insisted that I was “edgy”. During this stage I would walk past stores that had bohemian clothing displayed in the window. Long skirts, floral patterns and earthy tones. Or a store that specialized in vintage apparel, displaying dresses and shirts with stunningly vintage silhouettes. My heart would ache because I wished I could wear that. But I would snap myself out of it and say “Nah I’m too edgy for that shit”. (Don’t I sound like a pleasant little adolescent)? Even though this is not at all who I am, it was self expression non the less. Just an expression of someone that was struggling with owning her identity.
Stage three (Self Expression Regression): Over the past year my body has drastically changed. Some may argue that the change is subtle, but from what I can feel, I’m almost a physically new person. It would be untrue to say that it was because my ED improved, because it didn’t. It just changed. My eating and exercise habits improved, but the critical voice in my head went from subtly spoken to violently screamed. And I fell victim to a self expression regression. I dressed myself in a way that I described as “appropriate for my larger size”. I felt uncomfortable in everything that I wore, I was hyper sensitive to the tightness of my clothing and I did not allow myself to replace the clothes that no longer fit. I put myself in a no win situation by providing no solution. During this stage I was also coming to terms with my dying father, my 2 older brothers betraying me in the process of their grief, and falling victim to the subtle abusive tendencies of a women who could only be feeling a great deal of pain herself. This was the self expression of a girl that was angry. Livid.
Stage four (A transition): This is the stage I’m currently in. I’m starting to feel grounded for the first time in my life. I’ve added more therapy including participating in an eating disorder research study at my college campus. I removed myself from emotional unsafe people (person) and I got over the fact that my ass got bigger and bought myself some damn jeans (my ass actually looks fantastic in them). With my size appropriate jeans, my own apartment, and the structure of college, I feel safer. This does not mean that I’m healed, perfect, or glow with wisdom. This means that I can take this new found safety and finally cry my eyes out and feel all of the emotions I want. Then I go to therapy and talk about it, come home and sleep for hours. No one said that healing was a glamorous process ladies and gentlemen. As I heal, I expose more of who I am. I am NOT edgy (I’m hard headed but that’s different). I am not a cloud of doom that is completely void of happiness or a anger fueled lunatic. Who am I then? I am a passionate women who lives to read, write and take photographs. I am a giant goofball who day dreams about frolicking through fields of daisies. I love relaxing minimalistic patters, flower crowns and the smell of patchouli. I will continue to use fashion as a tool for self expression.
Stage Five (living life as Livy): In progress.