Every year, it's the same: Sometime around New Year's, I open my closet and dive in, determined to throw out the heaps of items I never wear, making room for an all-new, super-chic, very grown-up wardrobe that will let the world know what kind of lady I am. Hours later, I wind up with an enormous pile of promotional t-shirts, a few skirts, and at least nine pairs of jeans I've somehow accumulated. There, I think. Mission: accomplished. Then, I look back at my closet and find it's somehow still stuffed. Every year, in fact, it seems to be more stuffed — and not with an all-new, super-chic wardrobe. It wasn't until this past year that I finally realized that there was one type of clothing that I'd never, ever thought to throw out. But it was time. I had to ditch the skinny clothes.
Skinny clothes are an issue not just for the not-skinny crowd. Everyone has at least one item that doesn't quite fit, but might fit one day, if...If what? Skinny clothes are the things we would wear in some murky future when our bodies are transformed. Size is the most common factor: The Dress I'll Wear 20 Pounds From Now. But it's not the only one. In my own closet, I found things like The Dress I'll Wear When My Boobs Are Smaller, The Jeans I'll Try On Again When My Butt Is Rounder, and even The Top That Will Look Great Once My Shoulders Aren't So Broad.
Skinny clothes are made of magical thinking. That's why we keep buying them and that's why we can't throw them out. To ditch those items is to radically embrace yourself in this body, in this moment, and to recognize that your shoulders aren't getting any narrower without a magic wand. I've been preaching body positivity for over two years now, and it took me almost that long to recognize the skinny skeleton in my closet.
Then, I found another one: My not-skinny-enough clothes. These are the shapeless shifts I wore to hide my belly, the old, loose button-down that made my arms look slimmer, and that one nice dress I can wear to weddings and actually breathe in. God help me if I ever got a stain on it. If I did, then I don't know — I guess I'd just stop going to weddings?
When I asked myself that question, there was only one answer: Hell no. I do radically embrace this body, these shoulders, this slightly rectangular butt. But every time I opened my closet to find it stocked with clothing which didn't fit this body or which served only to hide it, I communicated a message of rejection to myself on a fundamental level. This was the last bastion of my old life — and it had to go. Was it sad? Yeah. Letting go of anything is sad. But in doing this, I was finally making room — not for fancy new clothes for a fancy new me — but for this me, at last. She's the only one I've got and she deserves a dress that fits.
If you're ready to roll up your sleeves and ditch the skinny clothes (you are, I promise), all you need to do is open the closet, pick out an item, and ask yourself a few basic questions. Repeat. In the end, you may find yourself with plenty of items that pass the test. Or, you may wind up with an empty closet and some shopping to do. You won't end up with a fancy new you, but who needs her anyway? She has a great ass, but she's imaginary. Your ass is better, because it's real.
The Anti-Diet Project is an ongoing series about intuitive eating, sustainable fitness, and body positivity. You can follow my journey on Twitter and Instagram at @mskelseymiller or #antidietproject (hashtag your own Ant-Diet moments, too!). Curious about how it all got started? Check out the whole column, right here. Got your own story to tell? Send me a pitch at email@example.com. If you just want to say hi, that's cool, too.
Photographed by Lauren Perlstein; Hair & Makeup by Andi Yancey; Styled by Bethie Girmai.