Back in my old life, I remember getting ridiculously excited about Fashion Month: I’d pull out my freshly-sharpened pencils and a brand new sketchpad in the hopes that a few collections would inspire me to begin a new drawing, that a model’s face would stand out from the crowd and send shivers down my spine and into my fingers, where I would begin to draw the sharp angles of her face. I would anxiously await the moment when I could watch Prada’s live-stream from Milan—the models swaying seductively on sky-high heels, their tiny ankles and slender arms shuddering under the glare of a thousand camera flashes.
What I looked forward to most, though, was watching the clothes as they undulated over each model’s figure—satin caressing thighs, enormous overcoats hiding the female form yet somehow empowering it, making it larger than life. I used to image myself in those clothes—my slight frame hidden under layer upon layer of chiffon, knit, leather. I could picture myself snuggling into one of the enormous knit dresses from The Row’s Fall/Winter 2014 collection and staying there—hidden from everyone—for the rest of my life. In those clothes, I could pretend to be someone else … someone better.
Spending nine weeks locked up in a hospital changed me, though. Everything about life on The Outside seems different—starker, brighter. While I was on the EDU, I didn’t have time to think about things like celebrities (although we did have a Robin Williams Memorial Movie Marathon when we found out that he committed suicide) or fashion or anything that didn’t have to do with my eating disorder.
I was only allowed to have seven outfits (not including pajamas and things like underwear), which meant that I spent two months wearing an odd combination of flannel, baggy sweaters, yoga pants, and hospital socks. I didn’t have anywhere to hide—my sweaters weren’t nearly big enough to meet the Olsen twins’ standards. So me and my changing body were out in the open for everyone to see, and that was scary. More than scary, actually—it was completely terrifying. It didn’t matter how many layers of clothing I put on; I still felt naked.
There was no way for me to really express myself through the clothes that I was wearing, and even if I had had an entire closet full of clothing at my disposal, I wouldn’t have known what to wear. Why? Because I’m not the same person anymore. My old clothes match my old life, not my new one.
It’s rare that a person gets a chance to start over. By all accounts, I shouldn’t even be here right now. According to my doctors, I was supposed to die when I was wheeled into the ER on June 8. But, for some reason that I will probably never understand, I didn’t. I’m still here, and I get that rare opportunity to begin writing a new story. I want to start fresh—and that means getting some new clothes, a new job … whatever it takes to make me feel complete and whole again.
My relationship with fashion has changed, just as my relationship with my eating disorder has changed. I don’t need to use clothing to hide anymore. Instead, I want to use my clothes as a way to celebrate the new, healthy person that I am becoming. I want to start celebrating me.