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Couple's Project Could Make Clothes Shopping in Eating Disorder Recovery Less Painful

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When a person leaves eating disorder treatment and enters back into the “real world,” they may face new and intimidating obstacles: less support, meals on your own and the task of replacing clothes that no longer fit.

To help people face the challenge of buying new clothes after time in a treatment center, Erin Drischler and Jordan Tomb, both 27, created The Garment Project, an organization that will provide people new to eating disorder recovery a way to attain clothes that fit their “recovery body” and lifestyle. It’s something people both with and without eating disorders could likely benefit from: size-less clothing shopping.

Drischler told The Mighty the process will go like this: When a client is getting ready to discharge from residential treatment, his/her treatment team may recommend The Garment Project. Then, their treatment team will send the company both the client’s measurements and details about their lifestyle. From there, The Garment Project finds clothes from their inventory that are likely to fit the client and uploads them to a personalized shopping page on its website. Finally, the client will choose which clothes they like, and The Garment Project will send the clothes to them.

The couple came up with the idea after Drischler sought recovery for her eating disorder and experienced the challenge of getting new clothes after leaving treatment, with her fiancé Tomb by her side.

“To return home to a closet full of clothes that are either too big, too small, I used it at one point to measure my own body, wasn’t healthy,” Drischler said, in a video on their site explaining the project. “And not having the financial stability to replace a lot of those items so that I could feel confident going back to work or school.. there’s too many people going through that.”

The two launched the site during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2017 in February and plan to begin by working with clients leaving the treatment center chain Monte Nido and Affiliates, which has locations in California, Oregon, New York Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. From there, they hope to expand to work with other residential treatment programs and later, individual therapists.

Clothes are currently being donated by popular brands, such as Rue 21 and Modcloth. The project also aims to fight the misconception that eating disorders only come in one size by providing sizes between 0-24. Right now, they are working on gathering clothes for women but would like to expand to providing men’s clothing as the organization grows.

When asked about what advice she has for women who cannot afford or access residential treatment for their eating disorder but still have a lot of shopping anxiety, Drischler offered what helped her in her recovery: clothing swaps. Drischler told The Mighty that since she entered recovery in college and didn’t have the resources to build a new wardrobe, she asked her friends to bring clothes over to trade so she could find something that fit her.

“If we can take away the first trigger a woman will face when she transitions back into her life, this is something that could make all the difference in their recovery,” she said.

If you’d like to learn more about The Garment Project, you can check out this video or visit their site.

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.

Originally published: May 26, 2017
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