I own many things that are sartorially sinful. Like those outdated preppy button-downs I had purchased for a failed career as an executive assistant (don't ask.) And that gauzy peasant skirt from the one week I decided I was meant to be a gypsy. And those miniskirts I used to tart around in back in my early twenties which truthfully would make better Swiffer pads today.
So, I purged. I purged like I never have. Gone! went the thin v-neck sweater that magically made my small B's look like medium C's. Gone! to the leopard-print miniskirt that I thought would go with ANYTHING but turned out to be wrong with everything. Gone! to the cropped jeans, and the silver python print heels that killed my feet, and the psychedelic print maxi dress that recalled a particularly hallucinogenic scene from Across the Universe.
Most of the stuff was easy to ditch. But the clothes that were especially difficult to part with were those in aspirational-sizes, clothes I held onto purely for their ability to self-flagellate. Peer into a woman's closet and you'll almost certainly discover a cashe of someday-I-will-wear-this outfits. In 2006, a Talbots National Fit Study poll asked 2,200 women ranging in age from 35 to 65 about their clothes-buying habits. Here's what they found:
- More than 33 percent admitted to having clothes in their closet that were too small for them to wear; and
- Forty percent purchased clothes that were too small in hopes that they would one day be able to wear them after losing weight.
- These clothes are a constant reminder that you're not at your "ideal size". While this thinking might seem motivating, it actually leads to lower self-esteem and self-worth. Whether your body has changed as a result of childbearing, illness, aging or weight gain/loss, holding onto too-small clothes does nothing to help you accept your body as it is today.
- Too-small clothing makes you feel like a failure. End of story. It doesn't matter if you're making progress on a weight-loss regime. Just as many people rely too heavily on the scale to measure their success, trying on clothes that don't fit can set you up for failure, too. The scale - or the size of your jeans - doesn't necessarily determine your progress accurately.
- Holding onto aspirational-sized clothing could result in unsafe, and potentially dangerous, dieting practices. During my lowest points in my struggle with anorexia, I used pre-teen sized clothing to measure my descent into illness. One of the bravest things I ever did in my recovery was burning these clothes. Literally. I threw them into a bonfire while in treatment. And I haven't missed them since.
- Longing for your former figure can prevent you from finding true happiness today. According to a February 2003 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry, a fear of failure drives many women to starve themselves back into smaller sized clothing. Instead of embracing who they are today, they focus their attention on getting back to the size they once were.
I ask you - does your closet contain too-small clothing? Why do you believe you hold onto these items? Have you ever considered getting rid of hem? What would a closet purge mean to you?