You see my name up there? Marlena Trafas. I now recommend you open a new browser, go to Facebook and type my name in. Take a gander at my photos. I recommend scrolling all the way back to my high school graduation, June 2013. Now scroll up through the years. Don’t worry, I know what you’re thinking. Oh wow, she gained that Freshman 15. … Oh and a Sophomore 15. … Ooooh, and that time abroad was not spent on a treadmill. And you’d be right about that: It was spent drinking way too much beer, as I’m sure you can tell.
Now, gaining weight during college, that’s pretty standard, as college experiences would have to go. It happens. Your priorities change: Instead of going to the gym for two hours every day, you end up going to a club meeting or writing a paper or existentially staring at a blank wall trying to figure out what you’ll do for the rest of your life. Normal. Casual.
There are a lot of shitty feelings that come with gaining weight — you don’t feel as healthy, as attractive or as productive as you used to. But one of the saddest things I discovered after my body mysteriously accumulated all this new mass is how none of my clothes fit anymore. My denim shirt squeezed my arms a little too lovingly. My shorts didn’t quite cover my butt adequately. My crop top now revealed more of my stomach than I really wished it to.
Somehow, the clothes I once adored began to mock me. And not in that playful all-in-good-fun way, like your roommates do. My jean shirt, my shorts, my crop top were cruel and relentless meanies. My closet of now-too-small clothes became this massive reminder of how I “let myself go,” while also representing this twisted promise to myself that I would get back “in shape” and some day be able to wear my precious Madewell jeans once again.
Alas, that day did not come. But fear not, a different one did! It was sophomore year, fall semester and my sorority was organizing a clothes swap event, so I decided to peruse my closet. As I stood there, lamenting a grey skater dress I had only worn once to a Miley Cyrus concert before it decided to hug my curves in all the wrong ways, one of my roommates came in and said she really liked the dress I was holding. “Here, take it!”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes! I don’t wear it anymore.”
Long, deep exhale. Wow, that thin piece of fabric from Forever 21 had really been weighing heavily down on me. Once I gave away this garment, I was instantly liberated from all these expectations I had for my body and myself. This dress would no longer be able to judge me every time I tried to pick out an outfit.
Even better, every time I saw my roommate wearing that dress, an overwhelming amount of joy came over me. “That dress looks so cute on you!” It felt so satisfying to see my dress living another life, bringing joy to someone else, instead of being a scary shame-monster hiding in my closet.
This sparked quite the trend in my life that any close friend, or anyone who has lived with me, can attest to. I give away a lot of my clothes frequently and willingly. As I stated at the start of this article, I’ve pretty much gained weight every year of college and, while I’m still trying to come to terms with how my body has changed, I’ve realized that I do NOT need my clothes to constantly remind me of this fact. The mirror does a decent job of this all by itself!
Although it may be more noble to donate my clothes to Goodwill, or more profitable to sell them at Crossroads, there’s something very special about spreading my wardrobe out to my lovely friends. Every time I see them wear an article of clothing I’ve bequeathed unto them, my heart smiles because I know they’re enjoying what I gave to them and that my polka-dot shirt, my floral dress, my button-down have found new, loving homes.
Marlena Trafas is a writer for the Weekender. Contact her at [email protected]