Decluttering My Closet to Accept My Body

This morning, I accepted the body I have. And that’s not a small thing.

I’ve been reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (as have millions of other people; this organizational self-help guide has been on the New York Times best seller list for 71 weeks and counting). I picked the book up to review, not because I felt the need for any help. I’m a pretty good tidier.

Photo of orchid and folded clothes on tray with Marie Kondo book on tidying up.

Like many of us 78 million baby boomers who grew up with Depression-era parents, I witnessed what it’s like to keep EVERYTHING. That old wall-to-wall carpet? Why, put it in the attic; it might come in handy someday. As I prepared to move into my first adult home, my mom watched in horror while I cleared out my childhood closet. “Are you really getting rid of that?” she asked, attempting to rescue my dried and crumbling prom flowers from the trash. And I’ll never live down selling her old Schwinn in a garage sale. True, she hadn’t ridden the bike in decades and, yes, she had given it to me…but I was never supposed to get rid of it!

No, I don’t hold on to useless stuff. Recently, I purged my closet of unused workout clothes (“Decluttering Delimma: What to Do with Those Darn Race Shirts”) and ancient sports bras (“Did Jog Bras Get Bigger or Are Stores Just Happy to See Me?”). So I was pretty sure I’d be looking at the KonMari method from a purely academic viewpoint.

Marie Kondo’s Key Tidying Concepts

 

Photo of orchid on tray with Marie Kondo book on tidying.

Kondo believes that items worth keeping are those that provide “a thrill of joy.” When those things are handled, they radiate positive energy that the owner can feel. Some, however, are hung onto long after their joy has evaporated. Why?

First, Kondo says, it’s important to reflect on the original reason for having that particular thing. Once that’s been determined, you then “reassess its role.” She illustrates this by comparing items to the people who come in and out of our lives.

This made perfect sense to me. It meshes with my belief that people come and go throughout our lives: some you love passionately forever and ever, others must be revisited to fully appreciate, and interpretations can change based on the season of our lives. Like favorite books, friends are never completely lost; by that same token, enemies are never firmly held. I can accept people in the here and now.

Kondo applies this thinking to things, particularly clothes.

“You’ll be surprised at how many of the things you possess have already fulfilled their role. By acknowledging their contribution and letting them go with gratitude, you will be able to truly put the things you own, and your life, in order. In the end, all that will remain are the things that you really treasure.”

Her words resonated. After I read them, I reached to my nightstand for a pen, scribbled this particular quote on a Post-It Note, and stuck it on the page to mark my place.

Decluttering Body Image Notions

Photo of stack of folded clothes with Marie Kondo book on top.

This morning, I was dressing to meet a friend. I put on a teal skirt that I like, one I hadn’t worn since last summer. It stretched tightly across my thighs, akwardly hugging my belly and rear. I felt uncomfortable in its snug embrace. As I slipped it off, I thought, “I’m going to set this aside for when I’m thinner.”

And that’s when Marie Kondo slapped me upside the head.

Though I’m not what you might call a real girlie-girl, I enjoy clothes. Like most people, I want to look nice. And so I have this whole collection of good clothes from my thinner days, waiting for the magical moment when I can wear them again.

Truth is, my body has changed significantly over the last few years. Since I hit 50, everything has broadened. My bosom can be described as ample. Things like my neck and upper arms aren’t as firm. With these changes – hello, weight gain (“Holding Onto Weight After 50”).

Even if I were to become thinner, there’s no guarantee that those clothes would actually still fit my aging body. Who knows when that magic weight loss might occur? Perhaps I become so much thinner that these things are too big? Maybe five years pass before any hypothetical bodily metamorphosis happen and everything is out of style?

What if? What if?

Photo of letters spelling out JOY and Marie Kondo book on tidying up.

All I’ve been doing by hanging onto these clothes I can’t wear is deprive someone else of their pleasure. I need to let them go.

This curvy body, with its big boobs and definite booty, is what I have today, regardless of how I choose to evaluate it or may desire to change it.

Acceptance.

I’ll continue to strive to make my body fit, healthy, and attractive. And I’ll treasure my body for the joy it gives me. In the here and now.

Photo of orchid and folded clothes on tray with Marie Kondo book on tidying up.

“The current media ideal for women is achievable by less than 5% of the female population – and that’s just in terms of weight and size.” ~ Social Issues Research Centre

 

 

Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at www.leahruns100.com, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

2 thoughts on “Decluttering My Closet to Accept My Body

  1. Body acceptance is difficult, but for women of a certain age, it can be damn near impossible. Kudos to you for letting go of who you used to be and embracing who you are!

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