Today, I did something I have never done before.
I put on a size 12 jeans, buttoned them, and zipped them all the way to the top.
A friend of mine was cleaning out her closet and asked if I would want her size 12 jeans. I told her I didn’t think I could fit in them but I would give it a try. After meeting up with her at the gum, I headed home with my bag of too-tiny-for-me-jeans, thinking I would see how far I had to go before they fit and use that as motivation to stay on track. I was surprised when I was able to pull them up over my hips without any tugging or shimmying. I was absolutely flabbergasted when I buttoned and zipped them. I didn’t have to suck it in, I didn’t have to lie flat on my back, and I didn’t have to get a pair of pliers to pull the zipper up. I just put them on like they were any other pair of jeans. And they fit.
Now this may not seem like much, but to me this is HUGE. I have never, not ever, been a size 12. I was wearing size 14 jeans by the time I was in 5th grade, and they only got bigger from there. I have spent 0 hours occupying this little space in the world. It’s a bit strange, I have to admit, to be at a goal you could never conceptualize. It’s gone from abstract to reality.
I don’t know who a size 12 Jamie is. I am very familiar with the size 16 Jamie. That’s the size I have spent most of my adult life at. The comfortably chubby size. The “I can buy my pants in the regular section of Target so I can’t be that big,” size. The size I could diet down to and maintain without too much effort. The big-enough-to-not-be-noticed-but-not-so-big-that-I-stand-out size. It’s the size that I could disappear.
I am also familiar with bigger sizes. Size 18, 20…and up. Those are the self-loathing sizes for me. The disconnected sizes. The sizes where I used food to hide from all the hard things. The size where I didn’t recognize myself in pictures, and thought “I can’t possible look like that,” when confronted with reality. The slumped shouldered, eyes to the floor sizes.
I am a little less acquainted with size 14. That’s the size I had to struggle to get down to. The people-are-starting-to-notice-me size. The size I would occupy briefly and then quickly abandon all that had gotten me there, fleeing back to my comfy size 16s. This was the size of potential, the maybe this is possible size. And it freaked me the fuck out every time I reached it.
I think what made this time different is that this is the first time that I’m losing weight to be healthy and not to be some size. I didn’t do this to change how I look, I wanted to change how I felt. I’m never going to have a bikini body, but I do have a strong body. I have a body that can run 5 miles, that can hike up mountains, that can lift and pull and sprint and jump.
I have a body that I love because of its capabilities, not because of its size. And that means more to me than any jeans ever could.