Article By: Tiffany Willis
Tiffany is a Bariatric Coach, Bariatric Patient Advocate, and Co-Host of the Life After Fat Pants Podcast. After losing 349 pounds in just 18 months following bariatric surgery in 2012, Tiffany has dedicated her life's work to helping those suffering from morbid obesity disease.
The title says it all. And take it from someone who has been there — post-weight loss wardrobe anxiety/dysfunction is a thing. You don’t have to be a licensed therapist to name and claim this particular brand of anxiety. Back when I weighed 531 pounds, summer was my least favorite season because it meant, well, the start of the cringiest season of all — swimsuit season. (Deep sigh). To be blunt, when I was at my heaviest there was simply nothing easy or fun about trying to find swimsuits. And let’s face it, at that size, the notion of finding a swimsuit that actually fit, made me want to fast-forward to winter all over again and hibernate under the cascading comfort of a warm blanket.
However, what surprised me was how much anxiety I still had about shopping for my summer wardrobe even after I lost more than 300 pounds. Go figure!
There I was — a slimmed down, healthier version of myself with a trip booked to Key West and nothing to wear. If you find yourself in panic mode for similar reasons, I encourage you to share your frazzled feelings with someone you trust. In my case, it was my sister. With just days to go before I took off to the beach, she joined me on a shopping excursion. We were two women on a mission to get me looking my best for sun and surf. It should have been fun, but I was scared to death. Sizes are so intimidating. The very word implies measurement and appraisal and, for me, traumatic memories of a life where nothing ever fit. But my sister saw me through her rose-colored sunnies, and boldly helped me load the dressing room with an all-new hot weather wardrobe — shorts, dresses, tops, and yes, even swimsuits. While I was busy fretting over what size I might be and worried that still nothing, despite my dramatic weight loss, would even fit — my sister was busy handing me things to try on. And with every button buttoned and zipper zipped, something amazing began to happen in the confines of my dressing room — I began to realize I had options. Before, due to my size, my options for everything were so limited. Once I got healthy, that all changed.
I remember my first post-weight loss swimsuit — a turquoise one-piece that made me feel great. And when my sister peeked into the dressing room, I could tell by the look on her face that it looked great, too. The shopping spree turned into a celebration of my transformation. Before I dipped a single toe into the waters of that magical summer, I took a mental vacation from my old patterns. Instead of expecting defeat, I was embracing small victories. That summer was the start of a new season in my life — one where I learned to love myself in and out of my clothing and, yes, even in a swimsuit.