The Summertime Blues: Navigating Eating Disorder Triggers Redux

June 17, 2011 Angela E. Gambrel

The glare of the dressing room's lighting was unforgiving and pointed out every flaw — real and imaginary — on my body. My thighs were too wide, my stomach too round, and my overall body too short and squat. I didn't have the flawless, smooth and stubble-free underarms and legs of a magazine model. I wanted it to magically become wintertime again so I could hide my body under leggings, loose jeans, and oversized sweaters.

I kept telling myself that the sizes didn't matter, that these labels were an arbitrary measurement most likely chosen with little thought by some clothing manufacturer in China or Taiwan.

But part of my mind wasn't buying it. As I stood contemplating the clothes and the various sizes surrounding me, I felt a little dizzy and my first inclination was to run as fast as I could from the dressing room.trigger-photo22

Once upon a time, I loved to shop for clothes. This was before I developed anorexia in my early forties. I didn't see the flaws as clearly then, or perhaps I just didn't care. I am a fairly conservative dresser, but I enjoyed finding a trendy new shirt or pair of paints that were both comfortable and stood out. I still remember the pale pink dress slacks with very thin blue pinstripes and little pockets with a touch of flirty lace.

That was then.

For a while, I loved to shop for clothes when I was at my thinnest. I had a sick, false pride in being able to wear the smallest size available. I first reached a healthy weight in 2009, and immediately donated most of my small clothes to the Salvation Army.

That was my fatal mistake. I kept a few small clothes just in case. Just in case of what? Just in case anorexia decided to slam back into my life, which it did starting in January 2010.

Those clothes are still crammed somewhere in my closet, and I know I need to take the final step and get all of them out of my house and out of my life because there can be no return to anorexia.

Now I am at a healthy weight and I can wear a normal size. That size varies depending upon the clothing, and that can be a trigger in itself. I still refuse to buy a piece of clothing in a larger size because that feels like admitting that I am larger.

I am larger. I am almost twenty-five pounds heavier than I was last year. And the sooner I accept that all of these things are just arbitrary numbers — weight, size, measurements — and only have meaning and power if I give them meaning and power, the better.

Trying on clothes became a little easier as the afternoon wore on. I focused on the positive aspects of my body, the new emerged womanly curves and my long curly hair. I told myself I wasn't short and squat, but instead I was petite. I finally decided to just ignore the numbers, knowing it could be any number, and concentrated on what fit comfortably and looked nice on me. I reminded myself that the most important thing is that I am healthier — and no size can mean more than that.

Do you find yourself triggered when you go shopping for clothes? How do you deal with glaring mirrors and larger sizes?

APA Reference
Gambrel, A. (2011, June 17). The Summertime Blues: Navigating Eating Disorder Triggers Redux, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 14 from

Author: Angela E. Gambrel

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