Clothes shopping is a favorite American pastime. But for the overweight and obese it can be discouraging.
“I would cut the tags off my clothes so I wouldn’t be reminded what size I was wearing, and I didn’t want my husband to see it either.”
“I just bought drawstring or elastic-band pants and skirts so I didn’t have to worry about my waist size growing.”
“I started ordering on-line, 5 of the same thing, so I wouldn’t have to go into a store anymore.”
“When I first started shopping at Lane Bryant I told myself it was okay because I was wearing the smallest size there- a 14. Somehow that made me feel superior to the other women who shopped there. But soon enough I expanded into a 24.”
Before surgery, many patients are excited by the thought of purchasing stylish new clothes in smaller sizes. However, the transition from plain, baggy clothing to fitted, contemporary clothing is not always easy. For some it is exhilarating from the very beginning, but for others it takes more time.
“I’m one month out, and I was getting dressed for work this morning. I had my pants on and then came the “okay, what top do I wear?” I pulled out my lavender top. The same top I’ve put on at least three times in the past year but it never fit. This morning I put it on and it fit with a little room to spare! I wore it without a jacket! I felt great!”
“I still look in the mirror and see the old me. The other day my daughter was wearing these great jeans, and I told her how I would love to get a pair but I could never fit into them. My daughter said, “Mom, just try these on.” I put them on and they fit. Not only did they fit, but they looked really good. But it freaked me out because I look at myself in the mirror and I think, “Wow, that’s me?” But it almost made me miss my heavier self. Now I feel so exposed, I feel naked. When I was heavy nobody looked at me, nobody paid attention to me. Yes, I’m happy because I feel so much healthier, and that to me was the goal. But it’s a struggle.”
“I’m three months out from surgery and I’ve lost about 55 pounds. My clothes don’t fit anymore so I went shopping. I found that going to a regular store instead of a plus-size store, where choice is limited, is very different. I actually had an anxiety attack. I couldn’t decide what to look at or what to try on, and I started crying. Then I looked across the aisle and saw the shoe section. I didn’t buy any clothes that day, but I bought five pairs of shoes. I went back a week later, but I had to talk myself through it before I went into the store. I decided I would only look at pants and nothing else. But I thought to myself, I must be crazy. Why is it such a big deal for me to go shopping?”
“When I got to ditch the size 22 pants it was cool, but then I thought, “Now what am I going to wear?” For me the joy is getting to the next smaller size. If people want to look at me, and people want to notice me, you know what? Bring it on! I worked hard for this, and I’ve earned it, and by golly if they’re not going to enjoy it, I am!”
“When does your brain finally catch up with what’s happening to your body? I’m running out of clothes, and while that sounds like an amazing problem to have it’s still something to deal with. I know my large shirts are a little big, but I can’t bring myself to think I would fit into a medium. Prior to surgery, I wouldn’t even try clothes on in the store. I would just buy the clothes and take them home. If they didn’t fit I would take them back. Now I’m trying the clothes on in the store. I took medium and large tops into the dressing room. The medium top fits perfectly. Huh? When I look at the top on the hanger and hold it up, I cannot accept that there is any way this top will fit me. It’s not possible. But it’s true.”
“When I did finally buy new clothes they skimmed my body, where as my older clothes were loose and baggy. But then all of a sudden I was getting attention and I didn’t know how to react. People tell me I’m skinny. I don’t know how to respond to that.”
Do you have a hard time giving away your ‘big’ clothes? Are you wearing clothes that are a couple of sizes too big? Do you avoid shopping for new clothes? Or, when you do go shopping, do you look through racks of clothing that you know are too big for you? Is it hard to look at yourself in the mirror and accept that the image is really you?
The pounds can come off very quickly after surgery. It takes time for the mind to catch up. Patients are encouraged to attend Dr. Yadegar’s monthly support group, attend a local weight loss surgery support group, join an on-line support group, or seek individual counseling if the weight loss transition has become too challenging to handle alone.