Here's what shopping has always been like for me, as a plus-size person: There are a few stores where I know I can find reasonably nice stuff in my size. Most of them also carry regular sizes. I rush by the regular sizes because I know that I will only be sad about the pretty things there that I won't fit into. I duck into the plus-size section, and browse a selection of clothes that are usually two out the following three things: cute, my size, affordable.
Here is a vice that I always had as a fat person: thinking that the real weight loss was just around the corner. Convincing myself that it's OK to buy something that doesn't fit now, because of course it will fit soon. Convincing myself that it's OK to keep something that hasn't fit since high school (while I was also plus size in high school, I gained weight afterward, and also my body was very differently proportioned then), thinking that once I lose weight, that stuff will fit again.
Here is something that happens as you get older, start to accept that you will, at the very least, always be on the larger side, start to make your peace with that, and yet still continuously work toward losing weight: you get pretty good at not buying things that don't fit right now. You purge your closet of lots of things that are too small, because you know fitting into them is a pipe dream. But there are a few things you can't bear to get rid of. Some you bought for yourself, knowing they were too small. Others were gifts from people who either underestimated your size or didn't want to be impolite. Still others date back to before you had breasts. But you love them all, and dream of someday being able to wear them again. You end up with a "too-small" drawer, at least one. You never look in it, but you always know it's there.
Here is something wholly unexpected that happens, years later, as an unplanned side effect of all this: You have weight loss surgery. You lose more than 80 pounds. Your husband quits his job to start his own company, so money becomes very tight and you both resolve to avoid all unnecessary spending. But summer rolls around, and your summer wardrobe is now 80 pounds too big. You start thinking that some new warm-weather clothes are going to qualify as a very necessary expenditure. Then you remember the too-small drawer.
And opening the too-small drawer is like reversing years of unhappy shopping experiences. Suddenly, the bottom drawer of your dresser has become the holy grail of shopping, the very thing you were missing for all those years. It's your own personal store, full of clothes that you like, that fit, and that are free. And it turns out that a lot of them are adorable summer dresses and skirts.
It doesn't exactly make up for all those traumatic moments at the mall over the years, but boy does it go a long way to help.
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