MEREDITH HOLT: Shop for the body you have, not the body you want
FARGO -- For years, I've held on to plastic tub after plastic tub of too-small clothes, all the way down to smalls, size 3's and 5's and 32B's.
Most of the clothes I wore at some point. Some I've never worn, tags still dangling hopefully from hips and armpits.
When I bought band T-shirts I clearly couldn't fit into, I jokingly said I was "collecting" them.
My ex-boyfriend encouraged me to get rid of the clothes that didn't fit because they took up too much space. My friends encouraged me to get rid of them because they took up too much headspace.
"Sell them, donate them, whatever, but you definitely don't need that extra baggage taunting you," one told me. "As much as you may think it's encouragement to lose weight, it's bullying yourself."
I think she's right.
No matter how I'm doing, my someday clothes are always quietly judging me from their stacks and hangers. And I let them.
Last spring I made myself go through at least one container, which was easier than I expected, mainly because my style (if you can call it that) has changed.
I may have worn a pink and white off-the-shoulder Aeropostale sweatshirt at 21, but I wouldn't at 30.
As I gained weight from 2004 to 2010, I reluctantly bought bigger sizes. As I lost it over the next two years, I was happy to buy smaller ones.
I'm still paying off my Lane Bryant credit card.
While I was at a standstill, I held off on buying many clothes until I went down another size. But then I didn't.
Instead, I went up.
I grumbled to myself when I tried on a pair of cuffed boyfriend jeans and khakis, but they were cute and comfortable, and they looked better than my too-tight jeans with my gut hanging over the front.
Next month my fiancé and I are doing our engagement photo shoot.
Instead of starving myself or beating myself up for losing only a few unnoticeable pounds, I'm trying to have fun planning looks that flatter my body. My current body.
I'm no fashionista, but I do believe women should dress for who they are, not who they think they should be.
My newfound love of bold, unexpected color pairings is carrying over into fall, so I'll be wearing navy blue, mint green, candy-apple red and whatever else strikes my fancy.
Big girls like color, too, and I'm no longer afraid to show it.
If the shoot were a few years ago, I would've worn nothing but black, as if I was mourning my fat.
I'd like to think that the less of an issue my size is to myself, the less of an issue it'll be to others.
There will always be bullies, but at least I can work on stopping my self-bullying.
And the next step might just be to finish my little-clothes cleanup.
Forum reporter Meredith Holt lost over 100 pounds from 2010 to 2012. She shares stories of her weight-loss journey in her column. Readers can reach her at (701) 241-5590.