Do you have a pair of jeans at the bottom of a drawer or a dress in the back of your closet that you can almost fit into, but it just makes you feel bad whenever you try to put it on? Well, you’re not alone.
Sarah E. Canney, a “defeater of bulimia” and long-distance runner, posted an Instagram photo of a pair of folded jeans. Her unspoken goal, she wrote, was to fit back into the jeans after losing the baby weight from her second child. Canney eventually fit into them, but they were tight and uncomfortable.
Wearing them also brought up that negative voice in her head. “I wore these ill-fitting jeans most of last year and every time I wore them insecurities and ultimatums would drift through my head,” she wrote. “‘You’re still bigger than you were after you had Jack.'”
She continued: “Halfway though today I took these jeans off and asked myself, ‘Sarah, what are you trying to prove?’” She took them off and got rid of them, writing in her post, “How many of us keep old clothes because we’ve affixed a value to size on the label? We ‘measure’ ourselves in so many ways. If our approach to ourselves is gracious, forgiving and kind, then our lives will be filled with grace, forgiveness and kindness.”
Canney shares with Yahoo Beauty that at first she wasn’t sure whether she should share the photo on social media. “Initially, I hesitated to post the picture, thinking, ‘Why does how I feel about my jeans matter?’” she says. “But I think as women we never really give voice to the negative thoughts we have about ourselves. They are our deepest secrets, and so we all struggle in silence.”
Along with posting on Instagram, the mother of three keeps a blog dedicated to long-distance running, her healthy lifestyle, and her eating-disorder recovery. A Jan. 12 post featured a discussion with her husband, who stood by her side during her struggle with bulimia, about how to help a family member with an eating disorder.
Mayra Mendez, a licensed psychotherapist and program coordinator for intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health services at Providence Saint John’s Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica, Calif., tells Yahoo Beauty that something like too-tight jeans can trigger a long-dormant eating disorder, but not in every case. “There are many things that can trigger a relapse,” she explains. “The primary thing is if treatment isn’t started early, then there is a greater risk of lifelong struggles with eating disorders. The more time passes with no treatment, the more ingrained the treatment becomes.”
But can writing a blog help with ongoing recovery and support? It depends, says Mendez. “For some people, to journal and blog works very nicely,” she says. “It’s very personal. If someone does well with journaling and monitoring themselves, and it doesn’t become a burden to them, then they should go for it.”
For Canney, sharing is cathartic for her and is something she hopes will help others. “When you’re honest about your insecurities and bring them to light, they lose the power they have over you,” she shares with Yahoo Beauty. “That’s one of the reasons why I was able to recover completely from my struggle with an eating disorder: I was open and vulnerable about the things that brought the most shame.”
She adds: “You don’t have to have an eating disorder to connect with the negative, insecure thoughts I expressed in my post. I think we all feel like we don’t measure up to the unrealistic standard society has set up for us — fitting easily into pre-pregnancy clothes being one of those. If you want to change the way you feel about your body or the food you eat or the clothes you wear, you have to rewrite the story you tell yourself. The best way to do that is to change the harsh, critical things we say to ourselves into positive affirmations.”
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