According to Forbes, the average American woman owns 30 outfits—one for every day of the month. But, I’m an overachiever. How many do you have in your closet?
The number of outfits in my closet is likely three times that. I have enough garments hanging there to clothe a small African nation.
Every season change I perform the same ritual. I lug a plastic tub upstairs to my bedroom and dump the assortment of wrinkled, next season apparel all over my bed. I fold the swimsuit from my honeymoon (Only four babies ago!) and embrace the dress I wore on our first anniversary. (Boy, ten years flies right by!) I pay no attention to the outdated style or size. I’m a clothing optimist.
Maybe I’ll wear it this summer after I lose a few pounds. I convince myself.
I’ll keep it just in case I need it. After all, it’d be a huge waste to go out and buy another. I reason.
Sure, I know deep down many of these clothes will never fit me again. I just can’t swallow it.
So instead of facing reality, I put away those too-tight shorts and hang every dress that I know won’t squeeze over my hips even with IBS-inducing undergarments.
Yes, my jam-packed closet hurts my sanity. But, more so, I wonder if it hurts my body image.
Staring at my “skinny” clothes rarely fills me with joyful nostalgia. It floods me with shame. And, instead of accepting the ways my body has changed due to babies and aging and the environment and those single serving chocolate cakes you can microwave, I somehow feel an unrealistic compulsion to be as svelte as I was on my wedding day.
Those little size tags call out to me, “Heather, you sure aren’t what you used to be.”
I don’t argue with them. I know I’ll never again be twenty-five years old—free from the pressure to feed anyone but myself and with enough free time to go to the gym every day.
So what’s a girl to do?
You need to clean out your closet. There are many methods to doing it. But, if you wrestle body image like I do, here are some compelling ways to take action, now!
- Get Rid of the “Frowny” Clothes. The latest trend in wardrobe management touts less is more. Clothes horses like me are downsizing their closets, doing wardrobe capsules, or following the forty-hanger rule. If those work for you, that’s great. Be bold. Use them.
Some of these concepts intimidate me, though. How could I get rid of that much stuff?
Then I heard about a book called, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Written by a Japanese woman who’s a professional tidier, some of the suggestions were a bit too eastern-mystical for my taste. But, one of her key ideas resonated. Get rid of anything in your house that doesn’t cause you joy.
I thought about those clothes from my younger years. Instead of making me happy, they bring a frown! I’d rather not be reminded of how my size has changed.
Cleaning out all the “frowny” clothes from the closet just may feel really, really good.
- Only Keep or Buy Clothes That Fit Well. I loved Stacey and Clinton on the TLC show, What Not to Wear. The one mantra they repeated more than any other was, “Wear clothes that fit properly!”
I struggle in this arena. I am tragically hopeful that those two-sizes too small jeans will fit again…Someday! On top of that I’m a bargain shopper—if it’s cheap and fits “okay” that’s often good enough.
But your closet transformation calls for us to get real. If we want to lose the shame, we need to be willing to part with clothing that doesn’t fit and be real about the size we need to wear to be comfortable.
How liberating would it feel to look into your closet and know that everything hanging there fits you well?
- Redefine Value Apart From the Tag. My friend Ann and I were barely twenty-one when we joked about “strategically” hanging our dry-cleaning in the back seat of the car. The rule: if the garment’s tag bore a small size, you hung it facing out. (So everyone could see how fit you were.) If the size number was larger, you hung it facing in.
Without even recognizing it, we connected that size number to our value.
Some days I still wrestle the belief that size is significant—that people would love me more, enjoy me more, or (candidly) treat me better, if I had a certain body type and shape. Maybe you battle these lies too?
But the truth that redeems us is this: the number on that tag doesn’t matter. At all. Our dress size does not determine our worth. Jesus’ love and sacrifice does. When we can derive our value from Him, then we can release our closets from the cumbersome clutter and the shame, and, instead, embrace the joy of body image freedom.