Having gained weight the last few years resulted in me going up a couple of sizes but I was sure that eventually I’d bounce back. I’d fit into those smaller sized clothes again. So I left them in the closet. The clothes were there waiting for me every time I opened up the closet doors. Taunting me, making me feel like a failure. Those clothes that took up valuable closet space not only didn’t fit me but they made me feel bad about myself. Like I had somehow failed because I’d outgrown them.
One day, I kept telling myself when a tiny little voice asked me why I was still hanging onto them. One day I’ll fit back into them. I was miserable looking at all these cute clothes that I could no longer wear. Yet I felt stuck, unable to get rid of them because that would mean admitting defeat. It would mean I had accepted my new larger size and that I wasn’t going back. And I just couldn’t accept that yet.
I attached a self-imposed moral value to smaller sized clothes. Small meant good, better, normal. Larger meant bad, shame, too much. Gaining weight felt like a moral failing even as the feminist, body positive part of my brain told me I knew better. Knowing something in theory is very different to being able to put it into practice. I knew that my weight and clothing size was just a number but it was hard to believe that it didn’t say something about me as a person.
It took me a long time to accept that this is the body I live in now and that there’s no point holding onto some past version of me. I would sometimes try my old clothes on again to see if I fit into them. It never went well and left me feeling worse and worse. One day I decided to stop torturing myself. I tried on all of my clothes and put aside the ones aside that no longer fit. I put them in a big bag to donate to charity or try to sell. I was done living in the past. The clothing cull felt necessary. As if by some miracle, clearing out the physical clutter helped get rid of the mental clutter. I realised I’d been placing arbitrary meaning onto smaller sized clothes and that I could stop. I could just see them as clothes that didn’t fit anymore. There didn’t need to be some big story about why smaller clothes made me more worthy as a human being. I could just check out of that narrative completely. The spell was broken. I wondered why I had tortured myself for so long.
The relief and freedom I felt when clearing out my closet was palpable. Being able to choose from anything in the closet knowing it all fit changed something in me. It made me see how damaging it was to hold onto these smaller sized clothes ‘just in case’. That only created a false deadline in the future that I would never meet. By removing the clothes a weight was finally lifted.
Written by Olga Alexandru
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