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3 Shopping Tips For Buying New Clothes With Body Dysmorphia

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 741741.

If you know me, you know two things to be true:

I love shopping and fashion and I have lived with severe body dysmorphia and various eating disorders for the better part of my life.

No matter how much I love clothes and shopping, I simply couldn’t get past the mirror. Dressing myself became incredibly hard because I never knew if what I was seeing was fact or fiction – is this what I actually look like, or what my mind tells me I look like? After a while, shopping for clothes became so stressful that I stopped altogether.

Throughout the pandemic, I became “weight restored” (I really don’t love that term but we’ll use it for now) and then some. Clothes that fit me at my sickest definitely didn’t fit me anymore, and that meant that my sense of self became even more distorted. 

Wearing clothes that no longer fit caused me excessive amounts of distress to the extent that I started losing sleep, so I bit the bullet and went to buy some clothes that fit the new body I worked so hard for. 

I took some precautions to prepare for this shopping trip, knowing how much I was mentally struggling, and it’s because of those precautions I had a mostly positive experience.

If you’re in the market for new clothes because of an ever-changing body and relationship, whether it’s due to bodies naturally shifting and changing, weight gain, and/or weight loss, here are some tips to make it a bit easier

1. Measure yourself first and bring a tape measure when you go shopping

I know this may be a little triggering, so hear me out.

When you already struggle with body image issues due to body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), trying on something that doesn’t fit can be severely triggering. For me, I hadn’t gone shopping in years and because of that, I had no idea what size I was. 

By measuring myself and writing down those measurements, I was able to measure out all the clothes before I put them on my body to get a close enough fit. Because of that, I actually got a perfect fit right away which made me cry. While you may not get a perfect fit right away, you’ll hopefully get a closer one so you’ll be more encouraged to keep trying things on, versus the opposite.

2. Make sure your body is “lived-in.”

Bodies change throughout the day due to things like food and water intake, bloat, etc., I wanted my body to feel “lived-in.” An outfit may look a little different after you eat, and I noticed that my body dysmorphia is usually triggered when I look at myself post-meal versus prior. 

Choosing to eat and hydrate first meant that my body was “lived-in” versus if I had just woken up and gone straight to the store. Dress your “lived-in” body. It helps, trust me.

3. Use the buddy system.

I called in a favor and asked my best friend who knew the battles I was facing to go with me into the stores. I asked her to “be my mirror,” which translates to “tell me if I’m in my head, or if this is actually how I look,” and it made the biggest difference. 

Having the extra set of eyes gave me an added boost of confidence that was needed to get through the day without crying. 

It’s hard to dress a body when you’re unsure of what it actually looks like. It was through these precautions that I was able to leave with four new outfits that I love. Honestly, I’ll probably follow these exact steps again the next time I go shopping.

Body dysmorphia sucks, plain and simple, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Promise.

Lead image courtesy of contributor

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