Keeping Old Clothes Can Ruin Your Self-Esteem
Shortly after her teenage years ended, blogger Emily Neie experienced unexpected weight gain firsthand and began to develop a negative body image and low self-esteem.
“I wasn’t always fat. Like a lot of girls I knew, sports were a huge part of my childhood, and my athletic build reflected that. I played softball for 12 years, and all that time on the field gave me strong thighs and upper body strength that put some of the football players to shame. My T-shirts were small, my jeans were single digits. I was hopelessly unstylish all through high school, so my closet was mostly filled with strange patterns, religious screen-printed shirts from youth retreats, and the usual explosion of mall-store garments that all teen girls growing up in the suburbs think is the height of sophistication.
Once I stopped playing softball, the undiagnosed and untreated disordered eating patterns that had followed me since third grade finally caught up to me. My weight crept up through senior year and the start of college. Then, my weight took a couple of rock climbing lessons, chalked up its hands, and vaulted itself over a cliff and into a pair of size 14 jeans. I was treated for and (mostly) overcame my disordered eating, and my weight gain tapered off, then spiked again after college when I found myself sitting at a desk for nine hours a day, five days a week. Small T-shirts wouldn’t even come past my shoulders — I was barely squeezing myself into mediums. Double-digit skirts and pants, large and extra-large blouses, wider bra bands, they all became my new normal. To my girthier post-grad self, my college closet was a lot like the wardrobe that led to Narnia — sometimes I could find the magic, but mostly I rummaged around fruitlessly mumbling to myself.”
Emily eventually embraced a new philosophy of self-appreciation and acceptance:
“I was holding onto clothes that reminded me of my past self, my familiar self, one who I knew well from diaries, memories, and photos, in order to avoid getting to know my current self. Living in the present, at ease with your body and yourself, is really hard, and in a lot of ways, it was easier for me to stay grounded in the past. I still struggle daily to stay mindful and present in my current self.
This is my invitation to all of you newly pudgy women: Join me in adopting this Closet Philosophy for Formerly Skinny Girls. Don’t hold onto the things that no longer serve you. Let go of the clothes that cut into your belly, bind your thighs, or strangle your blossoming plus-size lives. Give away your well-worn, too-small clothes so that someone else can enjoy them. Fill your closet with new potential, joyful patterns, or strong neutrals that exude your power and expand to give your wonderful body room to move, wiggle, and relax comfortably. Life throws too much stress and unhappiness our way for us to let our clothes be part of the problem. Give your skinny little teenage self a hug, and send her on her way: You’ve got some shopping to do.”