Saturday, January 5, 2013

Loving the Old and the New

Sometimes I indeed feel like my pain is the only clear and bright thing about me. It washes me out, almost erases me, and I've certainly lost aspects of who I once was. Uber-fit Charlotte is probably gone forever.
This past week, I finally got to Reitmans to do a big shop for basics, mostly jeans and shirts. Though I love clothes, I HATE shopping for them (unless it's second hand, a topic for a later post) so I put it off for months. It’s even worse now with my disability as my physical stamina is very limited and shopping for clothes is very painful.

Yes, I do go to this cafe a lot. I can walk to it without hurting my back too much.
Though it's not upscale and the quality of the clothing is not always top notch, I like Reitmans because they have a lot of good basics in a huge range in sizes, from tiny petites, to big plus sizes. The petites are great for me; I actually don’t have to hem their pants! Their prices are right too.

Most importantly for me, their target market is not teenagers so there is no blaring music, it's never overcrowded, and their sales staff, grown-ups one and all, are helpful but not pushy. They actually tell me when something doesn't look good. It’s not your usual, sensory-overload, shopping experience.
I have been shopping at one particular local Reitmans since before my injury so some of the staff there know me. Since the injury, I have gained quite a bit of weight and I remain very insecure about that. As I struggle to accept my body size and shape as it is now, I look at old pictures of myself when I was thin and start to see what was unattractive about me then: my face had a kind of gaunt look, while now it has a kind of feminine prettiness that I'm coming to appreciate; I had very small breasts, while now I have much more bountiful ones; the bones in my chest showed, while now they don't.

Jeans and shirt: Reitmans; Boots: Ecco; Earrings: Jessica
Recently, a friend's mother looked at my blog and told my friend, "She looks really pretty now. She used to always be so thin and drawn and sad looking." I cling to statements like this to help build my self-esteem, never an easy thing for women in our culture. In my effort to feel better about who I am now, I’ve come to look down on who I once was: exercise-mad, thin, driven.

While at Reitmans, I told the sales woman that I used to be "too thin" and I'd recently been told I didn't look good then. "I don't know," she said thoughtfully. "I think you've always looked good. You looked good then and you look good now."

And it hit me: I don’t have to reject how I once looked to accept how I now look. I am proud of how hard I worked in the gym in the past and the body I achieved then. I looked good. And I look good now too. Maybe, just maybe, I’m simply a passably attractive woman and my size and age have nothing to do with it. What a revelation!

Remember bat-wings? They're back!
All that said, I know Beau is happy with my curves now and would be sad if I became as slim as I was before. Well good, because I doubt I ever will be that thin again. After all, I’m over forty now and that won’t change, even if some day I’m completely able-bodied again.

So, I was daring. I bought skinny jeans. And, you know what? They look good on me! Instead of concealing my figure, I’m showing it off a bit. How bold!

I did a few other uncharacteristic things too, like buy a few 80s style tops to go with the 80s style jeans. I hated 80s fashion the first time round but, if judiciously worn, it can work.

Raincoat: London Fog; Brooch: vintage; Solitaire ring: heirloom; Ring on left hand: Birks.
And my new London Fogs arrived. They were having an amazing sale so I replaced the ones that are now too small with new, larger ones. Out with the old, and in with the new. I can look back in pride, but I need not look back in mourning or self-recrimination. That was then – and I looked good. This is now – and I still look good.


  1. I love this post. 1) I just now realized why I enjoy shopping at Reitmans. 2) You've put into words my ever-evolving thoughts about fashion, weight, and appearance. Your blog is wonderful.

  2. I think a lot of people don't think of Reitmans because it isn't really high end or high fashion but they've served me well over the years. It's all about knowing how to dress things up. Same goes for second hand shopping. It only works if you can envision the clothes out of their setting and as parts of your own style and outfits.