My work is having a posh post-Christmas do after the new year. Dressing up was a must on the invite. As I’ve mentioned
fucking constantly once or twice my meds have made me balloon no less than four dress sizes. Ergo, without a word of a lie, I’ve nothing to wear anymore.
Also, as I RSVP’d I realised my last proper celebration was two years ago when I finished my journalism training. My last proper party was before I got ill.
Had I managed to off myself, that would’ve been my last ever party.
So this party, and the subsequent dress, became even more important. Mum whipped out a hundred quid out of thin air for me to buy the perfect dress and approved me splashing even more money by going to hairdressers. She understood what a big deal this was.
I gave myself a £70 budget. That seemed reasonable for something I could wear on multiple occasions
as I will be invited to so many and I would still have some money left over.
So off to the city I went. The first shop was a complete disaster. In my mind I was still a size eight and when the super massive mirror and two struggling shop workers trying to close the zip demonstrated I certainly wasn’t. Not anymore. As my social decorum was left in the loonie bin, I ended up bawling my eyes out openly in front of them.
“I’m ugly”, I wailed and certainly looked the part half out of a dress like some meaty, blotchy caterpillar.
“Don’t be silly, you’re beautiful. Everyone is beautiful in their own way.”
“That’s not true but it’s very kind of you to say.”
“If you’re self-conscious about your arms, you could use something with sleeves.”
First I thought she was referring to my cutting scars but they are quite faint even in bright lighting. Then I looked in the mirror and
the fuck exactly
those flabby bits come from
I literally carry plates all day?
The girls tried their best but every subsequent dress they brought in was much uglier than the ones I had tried on originally. They looked more like sequin tents and I felt worse about myself with every one. Like I was hiding something that was still painfully obvious to anyone who wasn’t blind. Finally I escaped by saying they were out of my budget (which wasn’t even a lie.)
Off to the next shop. With a painful reality check in tow. I went straight for size 14. A stretchy size 14. I could’ve done with a 16 but haven’t got the tits to fill the front. At the end I clambered in to a fitting room with seventeen dresses in total. The max you could take in was nine and I enlisted another two salesgirls to help me weed the losers out. I explained my situation to them and they were lovely about it, understanding that my body won’t be flattered by things it used to be.
Before I got ill, my favourite thing to wear for special occasions was either a tiny black cocktail dress or a long red dress with sleeves. I gave the cocktail dress away as it won’t zip even halfway anymore but the red dress is still waiting in a hanger as I cling to hope that one day by some miracle I would be able to fit into it again.
One of the dresses I picked out was basically the red dress. It zipped on like magic, the sleeves were a bit loose even.
I wanted it to look good, but it didn’t. It was just an echo from a lost world.
Another dress was completely different. It was black with a sweetheart neckline and tiny sleeves that left my shoulders bare.
I’ve never worn a sweetheart neckline, or anything that left my shoulders bare. I don’t like showing my chest area at all, usually I wear turtle necks. This was something totally different to what I used to wear.
But then again I’m not the same person anymore.
I looked in the mirror. Turned around.
Didn’t hate it.
“That one is my favourite, definitely. You look lovely.”
I sat down. Tilted my head into different angles. You could see my flabby arms but I strangely felt better having them out than hiding them inside sleeves.
I was hoping I’d find something I felt beautiful in but not being repulsed was a good start.
Then, for a moment, under all the puffiness I saw a person I recognised looking back at me.
And at £58 it was even under budget. So I bought the dress.
The party itself will be a whole shitstorm of anxiety on its own I’m sure but I’ll let you know it went. At least now I have something to wear.