Discovering I Have Curves: How Anorexia Recovery is Changing Me

Last week, I looked down and realized I needed something I haven’t needed for a very long time.

A bra.

“Comfortable Bra”

Okay, so maybe my new bras don’t quite resemble the picture at the right. But I always believed that the phrase —”comfortable bra” — is an oxymoron and that the bra was invented solely to keep women out of the real world and into the kitchen and bedroom. I mean, if we are busy trying to keep underwire from digging into our ribcage, how much threat can we be to the status quo?

I didn’t need a bra when I was in the worst throes of anorexia. Now, I do know some women who were very small, but still kept wearing bras…but I was not one of them. I figured that if I didn’t notice much in that area, no one else did, either, and I was home-free.

So, being skeptical about anorexia recovery, I stocked up on camisoles and decided that having very small breasts were a positive thing. I didn’t need a bra; I was beyond that. I could explore the idea that I was enmeshed in anorexia solely because I was afraid of being a woman…but I won’t go there for now.

Anyway, I didn’t give curves and breasts more than two seconds thought when I started working on recovery yet again. This is because I firmly believe that food and weight are just symptoms of eating disorders, and thus I ignored the less cerebral aspects of recovery.

I didn’t think about breasts, because I didn’t think I was going to get them. Hmm…

Discovering My Curves

I was surprised and a little bit dismayed when I looked at my recovering body and saw curves everywhere. Hips. Thighs. Stomach. And…breasts.

First I had to shop for new jeans and underwear, because let’s just say I weigh significantly more than I did two years ago.

Then I looked down and realized I needed a bra.

This wasn’t as easy as going to my local Kohl’s and plopping down several hundred dollars for a few bras, a type of lingerie that cover less and yet costs more than the clothing over it. First, I had to measure…then I realized my calculations were all off. I was too embarrassed to walk into any store and say, “Excuse me, I’m 46-years-old, but I’m clueless about what bra size I should be wearing.”


Breasts are not the only curves I’m noticing on my new, rapidly recovering body. I noticed hips and a waist; a curvier body that had to be accommodated and yet relied upon.

I also noticed my stomach, newly round, and remembered my active anorexic days and my oh-so-flat stomach. Or so I thought. What I didn’t see was the drawn, narrow face and too-thin body of a woman dying of anorexia.

Embracing My Curves

Last week, I asked my eating disorders psychiatrist if there was any way we could get rid of “the girls,” (what I euphemistically call my breasts.)

He suggested that I should “embrace” my femininity, instead of being dismayed and aggravated by my new curves. I’m thinking, “Yes, that’s a wonderful concept in theory! But you don’t have to wear a bra each and every day!!!” Then I glanced at his tie and figured I should shut up about gender-based torture devices.

I have discovered some good things about having curves and returning to wearing bras. I fill out my jeans much better than I did two years ago. And bras come in lovely shades such as purple and pink.

So I headed to Kohl’s and tried on some various bras, soon learning two things: a. the lack of uniformity in women’s apparel is long entrenched in this society, and b. the cost of many bras could feed a small nation.

I was surprised and a little disconcerted when I first really looked at my new body. I didn’t like all these curves, albeit small ones, on my body. I was no longer used to seeing curves in relation to me; I felt like I was in an alien body.

It also feels like going through puberty for a second go-round. Well, I’ve been to this rodeo before…

My feelings have softened with time, and I often feel feminine in a way that I didn’t when enmeshed in my eating disorder.

Now if I could only find the perfect bra…

I confess I removed my bra before writing this post.

Find Angela E. Gambrel on Facebook and Google+ and @angelaegambrel on Twitter.

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4 Responses to Discovering I Have Curves: How Anorexia Recovery is Changing Me

  1. Hi Angela,

    Just a quick note on bras – 80% of the woman out there are in _the_wrong_size_bra_. Trust me, my mother has a lingerie store. You are in the _majority_ not knowing their size. You have _nothing_ to be ashamed of.

    I recommend you go to a store that specializes and get a proper fitting. You _will_ find a _comfortable_ bra, you just haven’t yet because you haven’t engaged with the lingerie-professionals out there.

    Trust me, you’re not alone and the perfect bra is out there for your brand-spankin’ new womanly curves.

    Go you!

    - Natasha

  2. Lisa says:

    Nice post, good luck with the bra hunt :)

  3. Fhfjkvv says:

    You’re so brave.

  4. delly says:

    I absolutely love this post. You have really made me smile. I’m currently going through recovery alone and I too feel like I’m in an alien body and think I must be going through puberty again as I’m covered in spots (I actually look like a potato lol) and growing breasts is weird as I’ve learned to live with none. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone even if it’s not the best of situations. x

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