In my relationship with clothes, I am guilty of several sins. Lust and pride and gluttony foremost among them. In my defense, I want to state that buying excessive amounts of clothing, at excessive prices, is also about individual expression of art with the body as a canvas. It’s about the shared pleasure of friends bonding on a shopping trip. It’s about the feeling so aptly stated in all those L’Oreal commercials....I’m worth it.
But reality has been chasing me for a while, and I’ve been in denial. This past week, the denial dam broke (make sure you read that phrase correctly please), and I took the necessary steps to accept who I am. In the process, I feel lighter and brighter, and readier to continue the process of becoming who I will be.
Oh yeah....this is going to be one of those philosophical, introspective blog posts.
For most of my adult life, I exercised moderation in the act of buying clothes. I tried to time the sales. I thought about what I needed rather than succumb blindly to the latest fashion trends. I practiced restraint. I thought this was because I was an intelligent and thoughtful consumer. It turns out that it was only because money was tight.
As I grew older, and finances allowed, I was able to fund my clothing allowance more generously. I became a bit more frivolous. My daughter once critiqued a purchase by saying, “Mom...you need to make a fashion statement.” I took her comment as permission to stop looking like a mom, whatever that means. But the true turning point in my wardrobe acquisition came when I started dancing.
It turns out that when you dance, you need proper attire. And each form of dance needs it’s own attire. Contradancing requires loose, flowing skirts that twirl with a flourish. Country-western dance calls for short skirts and fringe. Ballroom dancing means cocktail dresses. Swing dancing is accentuated by short, kicky outfits. Of course each of these activities has it’s own shoe requirements as well. I was into all these forms of dance; my closet contents expanded accordingly. In fact, I expanded into two closets.
During this time, I was also working, and justifying many clothing purchases based on the need for professionalism. More shoes, more bags, more scarves, more sweaters and skirts and pants and jackets.
Throughout the last 10 years of this accumulation, it was complicated by the fact that my body kept changing sizes. First I lost 25 pounds, bringing me to a perfect weight. I went a bit crazy celebrating this new and wonderful body. I sustained that perfection for three whole years, thanks to all that dancing, and the influx of clothing at that time was my tribute to my accomplishment.
Then I fell in love and gained 20 pounds. That was enough to require new sizes. But I was sure I could take it off and get back into the clothes I loved. I yo-yoed with that 20 pounds for several years. Then menopause started (none of that peri-stuff...this was the real deal), and control of my weight became a phantom dream. Lose 5 pounds, gain 15. Lose 10, gain 20. Lose 0, gain 10. End result: 50 pounds more than my dancing girl days.
Longtime readers of this blog know that I’ve had several pithy things to say about the topic of weight gain and dieting. I’ve not given up trying (I AM doing all the RIGHT things!). But my shape isn’t changing, and the closet crisis had to be dealt with.
This week I said goodbye to that slender girl I used to be. I took all the clothes I’ve been hoping I’d fit back into and I sent them off to new homes. I steeled myself against the pleas of “just one more chance...give me just one more chance.” Out damn spot! Out dress, out skirt, out blouses and sweaters and jackets. Out all you sweet young things who’ve hardly been worn. Out all you overpriced products of foreign sweatshops. Out out out. Go. Leave. You are not ME anymore.
I said hello to space, to light, to room. I said hello to the real me, the one whose body isn’t so pretty anymore, the one who has lost her waistline and doesn’t know where to find it. Hello to the me who has fallen in love with yoga, and goes to Curves because it’s good for me. Hello to the me who is far more mindful about what I eat far more often. Hello to the me whose clothing allowance now goes to buy yarn. Hello to the me who scours the ample-knitters list for great ideas. Hello to the me who is always in the process of change, and to the me I will be next year and in 5 years and in 25 years.
I may not look lighter, but I feel much lighter. About 50 pounds lighter, to be exact.