“Super Size me.” I mean, gross. That’s something I never wanted to say, much less feel, you know? While my loooong history of compulsive overeating has frequently meant (inadvertent) super sizing, I will forever think of Morgan Spurlock and McDonald’s when I hear it, and if THAT isn’t enough to make me want to hard-pass fast food, I don’t know what would be.
But for me, the concept of “super size me” was more of a gradual but heavy melancholy closing around my psyche. A slow but relentless dual-expansion, both in loose skin around my middle and the dark clouds in my head. I’d love to blame the pandemic for it, or being 45, but the truth is it’s something that has slipped in and out of my life since I was a kid.
Little did I know that when I was a kid, I totally had it figured out. It started when I was nine. It was a fantastic time to be alive. (It was a great movie year, for one thing. Red Dawn, Karate Kid, Revenge of the Nerds, AND Police Academy? Shut up and take my parents’ money!) Oh, also, my sister was born.
Back to me, though. When I was nine, I got to know the caress of huskies for the first time. And guys, I was LIVING MY BEST LIFE. While the Spiegel catalog didn’t offer a whole lot by way of a girl’s husky department, I was fortunate enough to have almost all of it in my wardrobe.
I stayed with that huskies life for a couple of years before graduating to full women’s sizing at 11. My mom took me shopping and I ended up with a lot of high-end women’s clothing that did not translate well to the sixth-grade classroom. Red slacks? Blazers? I was ahead of my time. But I was still happy in the sense that my clothes fit and I felt generally good in them. Later that year, when Coca-Cola shirts hit the market, I was set for life. They were oversized on purpose, roomy, and offered a variety of colors. Check, check, and CHECK. I’m still a sucker for the oversized rugby to this day.
So it was that I made it to high school before I learned the pinch of the waistband. Until then, I had just sized up when I needed to. My mom was great about that stuff. She was ON it. She made sure my clothes fit. I barely knew what size I even wore.
Until I did.
The first time I realized that I was too big for my clothes, but that I wanted to not be too big for my clothes, was my senior year when I was trying to squeeze into my brother’s acid-washed jeans. I loved those jeans, and he had become too tall for them, having grown up and out of his own huskies phase. But I also loved ice cream and Skittles like, a whole lot. I kept eating, and gaining, and the pants got really, really uncomfortable, to the point that I first cut them off into shorts to let my calves get much-needed air. And then I stopped buttoning them. It wasn’t like I could FIND other pant/shorts like those! And I didn’t want to go UP a size! This was my size!
I kept those damn things forever because I *might* be able to wear them again. And thus began a pattern that would last decades.
Super Size Me Fat Pants vs Skinny Jeans
It’s not much of a secret, and it’s not that interesting, but a lot of us keep a range of clothing sizes on hand to deal with assorted situations. Bloat, small weight losses and gains, comfort vs fashion – if we’re smart, we keep our bases covered. But sometimes we keep stuff long after it makes sense. In my case, it happened a couple of times: once, through a particularly traumatic divorce and again when I briefly thought I wanted to train for a fitness competition. In both cases, I lost a lot of weight fast and was able to wear clothes I normally had never even considered as a possibility. Also in both cases, I gained considerable weight back once I settled back into my senses. “Super size me” felt more like an adjective-ish phrase than ever.
Also in both cases, I KEPT THE CLOTHES THAT WOULD NORMALLY NEVER FIT ME.
And then I punished myself with them. Rather than go purchase clothing in a size that fit me, I shamed myself with the thought that “nobody wants to celebrate going UP a size.” (or two sizes, in my case.) I kept trying to squeeze into the offending clothes, and when they stopped covering my midsection at all, I moved to leggings everything “just until I lose the weight.”
Given that the year 2020 gave me ample time to stress-eat, after a year in 2019 in which I was starving myself for the stage, my body was completely confused. My nonstop negative self-talk definitely did not help. I kept thinking, well, once I get back to work I’ll walk the weight off. I can wait until then.
And then I went back to work, and started walking a lot. Two months in, I had lost one whole pound, because the other thing that came with working all the time was an unpredictable eating schedule.
Something had to give, aside from my zippers. And so finally, FINALLY, after years of denial, of reassurances I never believed, and of self-loathing, I took my measurements and ordered clothing from a store that went off of those actual measurements. I went up a size here, two sizes there.
And guys…my clothes FIT. They fit my body. I don’t bulge over my waistbands or around my bras. I look and I feel comfortable. And…AND…this upsizing has the unintentional side effect of causing a few more pounds of weight loss, because I feel so comfortable in my clothing that I feel comfortable in my skin, which makes me move more happily and freely. It helps me let go of the narrative that I have to literally fit into this box that I created. It helps me realize that we’re all literally different people, and it’s OKAY to be that way, because how boring would it be if we all looked the same!?
Today, while I would never tell anyone what to do, I challenge you to think about the boxes you’re trying to squeeze your life into that are no longer meant for you. They’re making new boxes every day, guys. And they’re like, sustainable and environmentally-friendly, so win-win, really. Consider that your version of super size me could also be something super. And then go do it.
I’ll be over here, bending and stretching in these rad new, very roomy, hiking shorts.