If there’s one thing I am very well practiced at, it’s trying (and failing) to unload my old clothes. Over the years I’ve employed Etsy, Poshmark, and Depop to rid myself of stuff I could no longer justify keeping, and throughout high school and college, I’d line up to sell pants that didn’t fit and shirts I’d never really liked at Beacon’s Closet on West 13th Street, psyching myself up to brave the scornful rejection of sales staff who declared most of my stuff a “no” and handed me a few crumpled ones and fives for what they did take.
The money I earned selling stuff in person—or online, for that matter—was rarely more than $20 or so per piece, but I didn’t care; I was always excited to see an old dress taking up space on the crowded racks at Beacon’s, and liked imagining some Poshmark buyer perfectly pulling off the ankle boots I’d couldn’t quite walk in.
While those joys certainly informed my decision to put together an Instagram Story sale in January, I also, quite frankly, wanted to get some shit out of my house. I’d hatched plans to leave my apartment in Austin for Los Angeles, and I’d need to unload as much of what I owned as possible before driving halfway across the country in my elderly Honda Fit with my partner in a few months’ time.
To be honest, I didn’t really expect anyone to buy my clothes. I was listing some good items, including a brand-new pair of Good American jeans that had struggled to contain my ass and a Universal Standard dress that was just slightly too long for me, but I had my doubts that anyone who followed my account would actually want to pay for them, even though I took care to keep prices low. So I was surprised by the speed at which people DM-ed me to claim things when I set my first 10 or so pieces live on Instagram. Soon, I was left with only a vintage pink silk camisole and a Wray one-shoulder top that I was perfectly happy to hang onto.
The sizes of the clothes I’d listed varied, but most hovered around a 2XL, or a size 18 in pants. As a fat person, I know firsthand how hard these sizes can be to shop for, but I still got emotional when one DMer after another told me how excited they were to buy clothes that actually fit them, for a price that felt reasonable. I don’t consider myself that much of a fashion person, especially compared to my spectacularly clad Vogue colleagues, but I noticed that many of the people buying my clothes were fellow fat people, often ones who had previously complimented my style in person or online. I hadn’t made the clothes, of course, but it still felt meaningful to be able to pass them along to people who might have as much difficulty unearthing plus-size gems in-store as I often do.
I stopped wearing fast fashion when I stopped fitting into it, which means most of my clothes are from smaller brands (except for the few designed by Kardashians—who, I must unfortunately admit, understand how to create plus-size basics I actually want). It’s taken me a long time to define my style as a fat person, but I can finally say that I honestly love the majority of my clothes, and selling things that I’m still fond of, but no longer need, to people roughly my size is a lot more gratifying than lining up to try to flip a pair of size four jeans at some secondhand store.
As I held more Instagram Story sales and became accustomed to shipping pieces of my wardrobe around the country, I began to realize how plainly nice it was to be in regular touch with other fat people, even if it was just about clothes. The life I was living in Austin at the time was relatively isolated, and I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed the community that came with shopping or eating or simply watching TV with my fellow fat friends, people to whom I didn’t have to explain the indignity of medical fatphobia or the scourge of chub rub or the difficulty of keeping your style and sanity intact in a world that would prefer if you were…less.
Selling my clothes on Instagram has given me many things—extra money, closet space, and the prized-beyond-rubies delight of decluttering among them—but the best thing I’ve gotten from it is a reminder that there are many people in my life with bodies similar to mine, even if I don’t see them in person every day. It’s easy to succumb to the toxicity of diet culture when I’m alone in my apartment, but when I surround myself with people who look and dress like me, I remember that I’m not alone.
Our increasingly thinness-obsessed society would have us fat people believe that we’re in the minority, but we’re simply not. We exist, and we deserve clothes that make us feel like ourselves, whether they’re purchased at a store or through a distant friend’s Instagram story. More than that, we deserve to come together over the common joy of acquiring things that make us happy, previously loved pieces that put our closets and our lives in conversation with one another’s.
This article was originally published on Vogue.com.