Those recovering from eating disorders can find stuff that seems so simple to every else – eating a meal, looking in the mirror, and getting dressed – incredibly difficult.
It’s hard to break out of an obsessive focus on measurements of ‘success’, whether it’s quantities of food, waist measurements, or clothing sizes.
One nonprofit is trying to make things a little easier.
Erin Drischler and her fiancé Jordan Tomb are the co-founders of The Garment Project, a nonprofit that provides women in recovery with brand new clothing free of tags and sizes.
The idea is to give women a starter wardrobe to help them through the first six months of recovery, easing the stress of shopping for clothes and ascribing value to sizes.
Erin was inspired to create the project by her own journey to recover.
‘I, like everyone else, found myself doing it the hard way,’ Erin told metro.co.uk. ‘I would return home from treatment to a closet full of clothes that at one point filled me with such confidence that I was unconsciously striving to fit back into them.
‘I was still giving my clothing too much power over my ability to recover.
‘My closet ranged in sizes because my weight fluctuated severely throughout my struggle.
‘Items that still fit led to panic and discomfort due to the number on the label.
‘Going to the mall and trying on clothes was overwhelming and quickly revealed my new size or sizes depending on the store.’
Erin explains that knowing your clothing size can create a ‘mental block’ that allows you to believe your success in recovery is based on a number. Having sizeless clothing allows those recovering to let go of their focus on measurements and find confidence and comfort in different forms.
The Garment Project works with treatment centres to find women who will benefit most from the project (meaning those who are truly ready to go through recovery), and has partnered with clothing retailers across the U.S. to get hold of stylish clothes they can provide for free.
That means sale items or perfectly fine products that are out of season, donated for free by bigger retailers and small boutique costs. All of the clothes are new, never-worn pieces.
Erin and Jordan keep detailed logs of the true measurements for each clothing item in their inventory, then ask for client’s measurements from their treatment centre – so they don’t have to know their own size.
The women are advised to try on their new clothing with a trusted friend or a member of staff at the recovery centre, who can act as a mirror and offer support.
Anything that doesn’t fit or doesn’t make the client feel good can be returned.
‘Sizing is confusing and overwhelming for a lot of people, no matter their relationship with food or their body,’ says Erin.
‘The number on the tag can vary depending on the store or brand.
‘Eating disorders are a mental illness with physical symptoms. They are about low self-esteem, control, depression, and perfectionism.
‘A person’s weight or size does not show how severe their struggle, but that number can have a powerful hold on their ability to recover.
‘There is no need for a size when there is no consistency, especially when that number is still dictating someone’s self-worth.’
If you’d like to support the project’s mission, you can donate through their website.
Or you can just follow Jordan’s simple request – break down the silence around recovery.
‘The best thing anyone can do for The Garment Project is to talk about it,’ Jordan explains.