11th July 2021

Let’s Get Dressed

I have loved clothes and fashion for as long as I can remember. 

My Mum is super stylish, she always has been.   As young girls my sister and I would marvel through Mum’s wardrobe at her dresses and beg her to wear her ‘Princess Diana Dress’ to our birthday parties.  We loved her clothes, her jewellery, shoes and oh the bags.  

When I got ill the things in life I liked seemed to disappear and my love for fashion was one of them.    I can’t remember ever having the idea that I would buy certain outfits as I lost weight the way someone who goes on a diet would do, as that was never the plan or at least it never transpired.  This illness is not about being thin.  I didn’t ever like what I saw in the mirror and all I wanted to do was drown myself in big baggy clothes, not a good look.  This is the problem with Anorexia, or one of the many problems with it, it sells you a false promise ‘follow me and you’ll be the best, feel the best and look the best’.  Guess what? It does not happen.

At my worst I was in massive baggy clothes, throughout treatment I insisted on wearing only medical scrubs or new massive baggy clothes as I could not bear my changing, growing body.  All in all it was not a good look, at my tiniest or at my recovery stages.  I was a girl lost in her head and her body and I had to learn all over again who I was and how to be comfortable in this new skin.

Looking back I wish that towards the later stages of my weight restoration the treatment facilities had included some fashion style sessions.  There is nothing more daunting and demoralizing than standing in a confined clothing store changing room with poor lighting, up close mirrors and a stack of clothes that one after another don’t fit or just don’t look right.  These situations are tricky for anyone at times, let alone someone recovering from an eating disorder, in a totally new body trying their best to come to terms with how they look and feel. 

I am a trained fashion stylist and I still found it hard.  I cannot tell you the number of times I have left shopping malls feeling hopeless and desperate.  I can, however, tell you that no matter how bad I felt on these days in recovery it was never as bad as I felt when I was in the depth of Anorexia.  It feels uncomfortable but it gets better and I promise it is so much better than being sick.

To make it as comfortable as possible I would honestly suggest when the time comes to either seek the help of a professional stylist or ask a friend or family member who has great style to help you out.  No matter how anxious you are about it I promise you, having someone with you is better than doing it alone. 

Do have a plan before you venture out to the shops, think about what you are looking for and what you might want to avoid.  I, for example, find denim jean shopping quite difficult, I always have, therefore I keep that to a day when I feel really good about myself.  If you are due your monthly cycle it might not be the best time for a shopping trip, I know this is my most vulnerable time of the month, think of these and other factors to give yourself the best head start.  

One of my tips is to take one item in a few sizes into the changing room and I always try on the biggest size option first (to avoid me losing heart and leaving the changing room right away, something I have done numerous times before) especially in the big high-street stores that often are not as accurate in their sizing as their labels claim they are.  Finally please bear in mind that all shops differ in terms of sizes, and, it doesn’t matter what size you buy it is how you feel in the size that matters.

Now go, hit those shops and be your best self!

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Hi, I’m Jen! I’m a woman on a mission to prove to others that are suffering with the disorder that there is life beyond it!

I’m not afraid to lift the lid on the disease and everything that happened to me - the good the bad and the ugly, and how hard I have worked, and still work, to achieve and create the life I have now. It is possible to beat Anorexia and the mental health issues that come with it, but it needs to be talked about.

I’m here to support anybody who has an eating disorder, or anybody who has a friend or family member going through it and wants to learn more.