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Why I Won't Give Away My Old Eating Disorder Clothes to Loved Ones


Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.

In the depths of my eating disorder, clothes were rewarding. They were goals. I desired a different size and was solely focused on finding a way there. For me, decreasing the size on the tag was more important than the number on the scale.

This means, in recovery, clothes have become triggering to me. They are a reminder my body is changing — a reminder that digs into my hips, squeezes my legs and grazes my stomach in a way my ED brain is not comfortable with.

Getting rid of these clothes is necessary for my recovery. Having them in my closet is a reinforcement of my eating disorder. Each glance feels like these items are taunting me, yelling the hateful things I used to tell myself and making it known that I am less valuable because I have outgrown them.

Getting rid of these clothes is a very challenging part of my recovery. It feels like throwing away memories from a former relationship, getting rid of childhood trophies and removing the thoughts, memories and feelings I once romanticized.

I can’t tell you how many closet clean-out attempts end with me laying on the floor surrounded by miscellaneous clothes. Eventually when this round is bagged, taking it to a consignment shop and then off to a donation center is emotionally draining. I have learned to plan self-care time before and/or after.

I understand it is commonplace to let your friends or siblings rummage through your clothes before you rid of them. I have happily been the recipient of my friends’ closet clean-outs! However, seeing someone wearing my ED clothes is triggering. It makes me jealous that they are effortlessly achieving the “goals” I previously gave everything for. It evokes the same feeling as seeing an ex-beau happily dating their new significant other. It uproots frustration, anger and emotions I have worked so hard to accept and move past.

Bag by bag, I’m ridding myself of these memories, of the abusive internal struggle between myself and my ED. Rising above of the days when I did not have enough energy to get dressed. And rising above the shopping trips when I’d buy clothes I “would work to fit into.”

This exhausting process is worth it, which I appreciate each day as I go in my closet and find clothes that fit every time I get out of the shower, or when I’m rushing to “throw something on.” Getting dressed is easier. These clothes are not yelling at me or pushing on my insecurities, but are soft and love me back. Because of this, I’m a step further on my recovery journey and have more time and energy to devote to making my best self in my best life.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Thinkstock photo via luanateutzi.