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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #1 
My daughter is 13 and in hospital and facing a residential stay. I guess this is my opportunity to throw away all her too-small clothes (a.k.a. all of them). The problem is, she will absolutely go nuts if I do that. Many of the clothes do fit her now, but won't once she is WR, which hopefully she will be again in a couple months.

We've been fighting anorexia for about a year (outpatient FBT, PHP, IOP), and I had read the advice of taking out tags, not going to the mall, buying things for her and just telling her she can either wear them or not wear pants. However, I guess I didn't feel that was good advice for my daughter because she has always been fiercely independent about clothing since she was about 10, very fanatical about fashion, there is absolutely no way she would wear an item of clothing that I picked out for her. She absolutely refuses to go to reasonably priced stores and insists she can only wear brand name clothes. Also sometimes, she was so withdrawn and sad that one of the only ways I could get her to get out of bed was to take her shopping or let her go to the mall with a friend, which would make her really happy for a brief time. And during the period where she did reach WR and was discharged as a "success" from her treatment program, I thought I could "reward" her by letting her go pick out some new clothes. She would FREAK if I looked at what sizes she was trying on, "mom you're always trying to get me to buy clothes that are too big for me!"

However now I realize that was a really dumb approach. I had thought that shopping was not triggering her, but in retrospect I guess it was. Now I'm looking at her closet and regretting how much money I have spent letting her buy size 0 clothes.

I've read the archives on "magic wardrobe" and TBH I'm not sure I understand it. Can someone please define "magic wardrobe"? It seems like it may refer to a supply of go-to comfortable, forgivingly baggy clothes. However my daughter doesn't really wear baggy clothes, rather she mainly tries to wear the tightest smallest clothes she can squeeze into. If I bought her some big sweats she would definitely refuse to wear them.

So I guess one approach is to literally throw out all her clothes and fill her closet with a small supply of larger ones of my choosing. I will call this the "nuclear option." I just don't know if this is the best strategy with her. We have so many problems with trust and "you don't listen to anything I say" already - wouldn't she see this as a great betrayal on my part? I realize the wardrobe needs to morph at some point, but would it be better to do it more gradually? Maybe get rid of all the XS and size 0 clothes first and leave the S and size 2 ones there for awhile? I'm scared that she will be triggered if she comes home from residential in 2mos a completely different size and sees all those tiny clothes, but on the other hand if I say "surprise, I threw out all your clothes" she will go ballistic.

I've thought about asking her to pick out clothes online and letting me blindly measure her and selecting the proper size based on the size chart, then removing the tag before I give her the item -- however she refuses to do this. Also it's probably not good psychologically for mom to be measuring her at all. And I don't want to be encouraging her to spend more time looking at fashion online.


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Posts: 5,455
Reply with quote  #2 
Random thoughts:

Yay for an ED kid who doesn't wear the same ratty hoodie and sweats every day!  Awesome!

You could take away her clothes while she is gone and tell her they are in storage (which they are).  

You could cut all the tags out of her clothes.  If she throws a fit, you could tell her it is not normal to care so much if your clothes have tags.

You could try to find larger sizes of the exact clothes you cut the tags from. (And cut out those tags, too.)

You could take her shopping and buy her current size and secretly also buy the same thing in a bigger size, cut out tags, and swap out when appropriate.

If she has an older sister, cousin, or friend who she likes to emulate, perhaps they could be recruited to pick some clothes.  If reasonably similar size, they could even try them on at the store (without your d).

You could tell your d it is normal for a 13-year-old to be a different size than when she was 12 and so it was time for the other clothes to go to someone younger.

You could tell your d it is time to shop for summer clothes and here are the rules a,b,c.  Follow the rules and you get x additional outfits.  Rules might be that sizes are taped over before she tries them on (in a way that allows removal without damaging the tag), you pick which sizes she tries on, whatever you think might help.

Interesting topic. I'm sure ideas will be pouring in from others to give you a lot of suggestions to choose from. xx


"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 

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Posts: 2,125
Reply with quote  #3 
Hi hopefulbuttired,
that is a really important question, although I cannot help you with this "Magic wardrobe" thing, I do not know what that is, too.
But here are my experiences:
Most of the clothes in my d wardrobe are still fitting although she had to gain more than 10 kg. I must add that she is not growing any more.
Her trousers are slim but strechy and she can still wear them, only the size 0 trousers are not big enough any more. I hid them for some time (always said they are in the laundry when she asked for them) and replaced them with same brand same model but one size bigger (and took out the tag).
After IP she was only wearing leggings for a long time so that was no problem, they all were still fitting.
Until WR it was not possible to buy new clothes without tears and so I ordered them in the internet if needed and she could try them on in calm moments at home.
Since WR that has changed a lot. My d is now buying new clothes without big problems. She is annoyd when a brand starts at size 4 and she can´t buy it because she is still size 2. She still fits into size s and sometimes even XS if it is bigger. One time she even bought a small t-shirt in M!!!

So I would get rid of all the extrem small clothes (hide them or throw directly into the bin, someone here even thought about making a bonfire with them - great idea) and leave the clothes she might be able to wear after WR. Try to replace them with bigger sizes of the same clothes, ebay is a good thing for that because you can find used ones which don´t look new. If she is asking for some special shirt or trouser that doesn´t exist any more, tell her the laundry had ruined it and you will buy her a new one later.
Yes, she might freak out, but that will not be the first time and not the last so you are able to stand this!

d off to University now 22 months after diagnose, still doing FBT and relapse prevention 

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Posts: 2,125
Reply with quote  #4 
Another idea (maybe just for elder patients):
There is a shop called "The garment project". It is started by a recovered patient and sells clothes without lables.
You give them your messures and they send you a box with clothes that will fit.
Great idea I think. I did not try it but I can imagine that it works.

d off to University now 22 months after diagnose, still doing FBT and relapse prevention 

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Posts: 654
Reply with quote  #5 
I'm sorry you've been at this battle for a year now, but glad you found us and registered.  Hopefully you will find lots of helpful information on these pages.   First off, what even is a size 0??   How was that ever allowed in the first place in the clothing industry - what genius thought being a Zero should be acceptable to anyone??  And some stores have double 00's in the US.  Ughh!  OK, Rant over!

My D was 16/17 at the time of her illness and was in high school.  Most of the kids wore yoga pants and leggings everyday so I just bought more black yoga pants in larger sizes.  The good thing about leggings and yoga pants are that even in a larger size they don't get baggy like sweat pants.  I agree it's time to donate her small clothing to charity!  Get them out of your house.  

In your position, it does seem like shopping can be triggering for your D so I would keep her out of the stores until she is WR for several months.   I understand how shopping is a way to get your D out of the house but perhaps there is something else that she would enjoy.  Going to a pet shelter to play with the cats or dogs?  Going to a nursing home and visiting with the residents?  Maybe an arts and crafts activity like pottery painting or any new hobby?  It's important to keep her socially engaged without causing internal distress. 

Hang in there and keep coming back with your questions.


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Posts: 1,041
Reply with quote  #6 
Hi Hopefulbuttired,

Welcome to ATDT. I hope you will get good support here and that your daughter will get well again.
The clothes issue is tricky but IMO one of those things I needed to be firm with.

I'll let you know how we handled it:

My d. was in residential and I broached the subject of the clothes during a family therapy session with the social worker who I knew had probably handled this sort of situation many times before. 

I wanted the small clothes gone. So I said to my d., me getting rid of them while you are here seems like the best idea to me. She balked, and we worked out a compromise where she would do it herself when she got home. I held her to it and a few days after she came home, she had a friend come over and help her with it and they took the bags to one of those bins where you can give away clothing. I was home when they did it. My d. was 18 at the time though. If she had been 13 though, I might have just replaced them with some of the same clothing in larger sizes and cut out the tags, packed them up, donated them, and taken the resulting tantrum in stride.

We did have an incident where she tried again to lose weight after being out of residential for 5 months or so. She ordered 2 pairs of the too small pants online with money she had earned at her part time job, and I was paying attention, so I found them in her room. I took them and threw them out. I told her I had taken then and that she could not have that size any more, and to say all hell broke loose would be an understatement. But I held my ground. 

I do think that unfortunately it is one of those times we have to step on the tail of the tiger and there is no way around it.

Envisioning a bonfire of size 00 and 0 jeans while we all dance around it and sing.



Posts: 126
Reply with quote  #7 
Hi Hopefulbuttired

Clothes and fashion have never been a big deal to my d, but I can appreciate your trepidation.  I'm afraid I don't really know what 'magic wardrobe' is, but I can tell you how we approached this tricky question.

Before my d came home from hospital, I removed the smallest of her clothes from her cupboard.  She didn't seem to notice I had done this, or at least did not comment immediately.  It obviously bothered her, though, as it came up in meetings further down the track.  The therapist helped immensely by insisting whenever this came up that this was a normal thing for a mum to do as her child grew.  Over time as she gained weight and more clothes had to be removed, I quietly took them out of the cupboard but made a point of keeping them in a box in another room so my d could see that they were not being thrown away.  I even noticed a couple of times that new items had mysteriously been added to the pile!  One day after a rather major sort out of her cupboard, we were discussing what would become of the clothes she'd outgrown, and my d suggested she pass them on to a couple of dear younger family friends.  What had been a tense conversation instantly turned into a relief for us both.  Amazingly, this seemed to put the problem to rest for her and she hasn't looked back!  As far as purchasing new clothes went... well, she just didn't buy anything new (or allow me to on her behalf) until she had been WR for a couple of months and we were seeing great improvements in her overall demeanour.  As she ran out of clothes that fit, I 'found' things in my cupboard which had 'got too small for me' which she wore.  Now, a few months later, she goes happily to the mall with a couple of trusted friends, tries on nice clothes and on occasion buys them (the right size, hurray!) herself.

For our family, taking a really low-key approach to the question of removing old, tiny clothes and replacing them with new, larger ones, seems to have worked.  I'm incredibly thankful for this small reprieve!

Good luck x


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Posts: 711
Reply with quote  #8 
Hi, you already got some great suggestions. What I understand from magic wardrobe is the following. You throw out the small clothes and when she asks, you say that the washing machine ruined it or the dog tore it and now sadly it is gone. If someone else has a another different meaning, please add to this topic.

With my d, I would take her shopping and she would choose the clothes and the next day I would either exchange it for a larger size or buy a larger size if she chose something that fitted. The labels would be cut off and the larger size kept until I saw that the original one didn't fit anymore and then exchanged it when I did the laundry. same with underwear, I would buy 2 size, cut off the label and exchange when necessary.

Sometimes my d would get distressed at buying new clothes, that would signal the end of the shopping trip. When, later she complained she didn't have anything to wear, I would remind her of her tantrum and that we could go shopping again, but without the tears. This worked like magic!

Lastly she found it hard to get rid of her old clothes (this is at wr), so I would ask her to throw out the clothes she didn't want anymore, instead of asking to throw out the clothes that don't fit anymore. This approached worked much better.

Good luck and let us know what worked for you!

D became obsessed with exercise at age 9. Started eating 'healthy' at age 9.5. Restricting couple of months later. IP for 2 weeks at age 10. Slowly refed for months on Ensures alone, followed by swap over with food at a snails pace. WR after a year at age 11 in March 2017. She is back to her old happy self and can eat anything put in front of her. Now working on intuitive eating.
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