Have you heard of phantom fat? It’s a condition experienced by individuals who lose weight, but still feel like they’re carrying that weight around.
I think I am experiencing just that. I have always been a big beautiful women and I pride myself on that. However, now that my body is getting smaller, I am actually more uncomfortable in my skin than I was before. I sometimes do not realize how much my body has changed. In my mind, I am still a size 22/24.
To that note, I had a very intimidating moment yesterday while shopping at the outlet stores in Rosemont with my best friend Kike and his mother Brenda. Typically when I shop at stores like Express, GAP, Old Navy, and so on, I go into the stores with the mindset that I am shopping for a friend, not myself. My shopping collection has always been limited. I know Torrid. I know Lane Bryant. I know the back corner of the room at H&M and Forever 21 with the Plus+ sign. These are my comfort zone go-to-places and have been my norm ever since I was little.
While at Torrid, I became slightly intimidated. I am usually a size 3 or 4 at Torrid (i.e. Size 22+). After trying on some outfits, I was shocked to discover that the sizes I usually try on were too big for me. After consultation from Kike, I tried on a size 1 and it fit. I was so surprised that I immediately started rationalizing it in my head. I told myself that there is no way I am a size 1 at Torrid and that the clothing item I tried on must run large. I left the store purchasing two new items and feeling confused.
My shopping experience only got worse when I walked into the GAP outlet store with Kike so he could get a Christmas present for a family member. I started looking around and noticed that a lot of the clothing pieces in the store would actually fit me. In fact, I fell in love with the multitude of options at GAP. I even grabbed a few items to try on but then kept immediately putting them back. I was second guessing myself again. It got to the point where I had to walk out of the store because I was extremely overwhelmed….overwhelmed because I couldn’t believe I could now shop at the GAP and overwhelmed because I felt bad for buying clothes when I knew my body was still changing a great deal. I texted Kike to let him now where I was and to take his time shopping at the GAP. With Kike’s supportive nature, he comforted me when he walked out the store. We left shortly after.
A common misconception is that, “Shopping must be so much easier and fun for you now that you have lost weight.”
What everyone does not realize is that being smaller doesn’t mean shopping is suddenly simple. I have come to learn that my perception of my body won’t change over night. In fact, my body image may be the very last aspect to change throughout my transformation. That is not to say I am not proud of all of the progress I have made; I would not go back to my old habits. I am healthy and loving it! With that said, I need to focus on adjusting to my new norm (my size) and embracing it. I still think I am a beautiful woman. I just believe I need to spend time accepting that I have changed my lifestyle for the better and as a result, my body as changed. When that happens, things like shopping will become easier and fun for me. As my friend Fabi would say, “In due time Dionne, in due time.”