Anyone who knows me knows I’m a girlie girl. Well, a low maintenance, middle-aged girlie girl. Hair and makeup should never take more than 15 minutes a day but the dresses and skirts should be bright, colourful and full of interesting fabrics. I love silk, cotton, linen & cashmere. I own 1 pair of jeans and probably a hundred dresses and skirts. If I could wear a ballgown every day, I probably would.
Why should you care about my wardrobe?
Believe it or not, my current wardrobe is something I never thought I would have again. Many women have a similar story but here is mine.
After my diagnosis in 2003, I became a patient. A chronic patient with multiple medical appointments per week. My medications clogged my lymphatic system, I was constantly systemically inflamed and I ballooned between 155lbs (70kg) and 180lbs (82kg) – I am also around 4’11” (148 cm). So, I was pretty much as wide as I was tall.
Most medical appointments called for loose comfortable clothing preferably tops with buttons or zips in the front, so if you go into cardiac arrest, it is easy for them to access your chest.
Wal-Mart & Target became my BFFs. Yoga pants that could stretch 3 sizes. Tops that could stretch 4 sizes and it didn’t matter if they ended up covered in crap because my hand tremors meant that half my food never made it to my mouth. Granny panties that were a step up from the disposable underwear they give you at hospitals.
When I became an exercise physiologist in 2007, the wardrobe got a slight upgrade but not by much. I still felt like I wasn’t me. I was wearing a costume. And one day, I was going to wake up from this. Or not. My clothes were functional but they were not pleasurable.
Each month I would go through my wardrobe and pick out 10 pieces of clothing to give to charities. It would take me all day to accomplish this small task because I would cry through it all. The person that I was, the person I was never going to be again. I hoped my clothes would find a good home and someone would get joy from it.
I would tell myself that my clothes were just the new me. I was now the person who worked in gyms that smelled like a spa or blood, sweat and tears and everything in between. I was no longer lecturing or grading essays or consulting. This was my new life and this was my new normal. I would have to keep telling myself that because I didn’t feel comfortable. There was a part of me missing every time I looked in the mirror.
Then one rare evening, a few years ago, when I went out to dinner, I got a call from a client. He had injured himself quite severely and wanted me to do a quick assessment and possibly tape him. Of course. I was literally around the corner from the studio, so I asked him to meet me there. I was wearing a dress. A dress that I could finally wear because I was feeling better, my systems were being repaired and I was finally feeling more like me. My client chuckled when he saw me and shrugged, “whatever works for you.”.
So I slowly began testing it out. I needed dresses that I could kettlebell swing or Turkish get-up in without wardrobe malfunctions. I should be able to climb onto machines, demonstrate movement patterns, complete PNF patterns on clients with comfort and no wardrobe malfunctions.
And here I am today with my current wardrobe. I still have a few fancy yoga pants that I love but I am that movement specialist and biohacker who lives in a dress. And it makes me happy because it is me re-emerging.