I’ve decided to have a positive attitude if it goddamn kills me, hence my attempt to embrace of the chaos of having our apartment entirely encased in garbage bags until the bed bug extermination was complete.

Well, two days ago, what will hopefully be the final round of spraying was completed, and I have begun to unpack. This is me looking looking at the bright side:

“Yea! I now have the invaluable opportunity to go through all my clothing before I rehang it in my closet, to make sure it is deserving of such valuable New York real estate. Oh joy! I will try on any items that are in doubt; if something no longer fits or no longer suits, I will pass it off to deserving charities and/or to friends, making my bed bug calamity a win-win for everyone.”

I put my hair in a scrunchi, rolled up my sleeves, practiced my wide, gung-ho smile, and tore into the garbage bags.

And I stayed on the sunny side. I really did. I’m halfway through and my closet is paired down to the things I can happily wear and feel good in. Getting dressed will be so much more pleasant.

The whole endeavor, however, is not without some loss. After I dropped the third top that I wore within fairly recent memory reluctantly into the giveaway bag (these are now variously unacceptable due to bra bulge or between-the-boob button-gapping), I had a vision of a possible future that I realized that I didn’t want to be mine.

It’s not so much that the tops didn’t fit anymore (although that was part of it–they are cute and I wish they still did). It’s that I saw that I might be at the beginning of a trend I’d like to reverse, or at least halt. I am, I suspect, officially off fitted tops, and moving inexorably toward loose, flowy blouses. There is nothing truly tragic here, of course. It’s just another sign (along with the countless others I’ve written about here, here and here) of the end of an era.

The era is over because as a Formerly, I am simply not willing to do what it takes to lose the ten or so pounds that would put me back in tight tops. I don’t feel bad about this–quite the contrary. I have made a reasoned choice that I am comfortable with. I am 42, I feel great, am enormously healthy, have a busy, fulfilling life, and look good enough that I do not care to restrict my eating or exercise more than I already do for the sake of wearing belly shirts. That’s not enough of an enticement. Most days, the occasional angsty blog post to the contrary, it’s a huge relief to accept the body I have, as-is.

But it got me thinking about how women ultimately wind up in muumuus. There is a certain fashion-flab feedback loop that I am potentially embarking on, now that I’m a Formerly. It looks like this:

Your body changes through pregnancy, childbirth, and/or age—–> You start wearing clothing to deemphasize and/or accommodate these changes —–> You maybe stop noticing that your body is changing because you still look pretty good in these loose, flowy clothes (boho chic? sure!) [NOTE: THIS IS WHERE I AM ON THE LOOP]—–> your lifestyle changes a bit as you get older and have less time/desire/energy to care as much about how your body looks; your body changes a bit more [OR MAYBE EVEN HERE] —-> The clothes get looser still, and ever-so-slightly less groovy, because while there are cute plus size brands, you have fewer choices —-> The body changes more because it’s really hard to lose weight as you get older, particularly once you’ve gained a fair amount of it and have so many worthwhile demands on your time —-> You’re now having to wear things with elastic waists and really feeling lumpy —–> Maybe you stop looking in the mirror and/or weighing yourself —-> Maybe your body changes more —–>

Before you know it, you’re living in Muumuu City, Florida, with hundreds of women just like yourself, and you wonder how you got there. Here’s how: Your body influences you clothing choices, which have an impact on your body, which have an impact on your clothing choices, and so on until you have no choice at all but to shop at sporting goods stores for a two-person tent to wear to you grandson’s bar mitzvah. And I don’t think it’s fattist or sizeist or unkind to say that it would be better if this didn’t happen.

What’s the solution? I’m not sure. I know the answer is not to keep too-small clothes in your closet to torture yourself into watching your weight; this doesn’t work, in my experience. It only makes people feel like shit. Neither is the answer to not make nice clothes for bigger women, as some have written. That’s idiotic and mean, especially given how hard it is for most people to lose weight. And I’ve already ruled out dieting and exercising like a maniac, at least for myself.

I’m leaning toward the boring but effective moderation–staying the course, paying attention, not overdoing either food or exercise, and cleaning out my closet every so often. It’s working so far, fitted tops in the donation pile notwithstanding.

In the meanwhile, does anyone want a pair of size 11 gold leather pants? They’re really quite awesome, and while they still fit–sort of–I’m ready to let them go. They have a stain on the front, but nothing a long tunic wouldn’t hide.

I’m serious! First person to e-mail me gets them! Joel, they’d be capris on you, but oh so fetching! stephanie at stephaniedolgoff dot com.

Photo by brainblogger CC