© elizabeth patch, all rights reserved

It sounded like an easy task:
clean out my closet full of things I rarely wear.

A “style” magazine suggested setting aside an afternoon to try on all of your clothes.
Make 2 piles based on your gut reaction:
1. love it/keep it!
2. donate it/sell it!
Congratulations, fashionista!
Everything in your closet now is something you love…
Sounds simple, right?

So I fortified myself with a big cup of coffee,
put on my best underwear
and began trying on my clothes.
At first I had fun tossing the rejects in a pile.
Stained: out!
Too tight: out!
Ugly: out!
Is this really from the 90′s?
Out! Out! Out!

But before long, I began to have my doubts.
What about this sweater?
(I never wear it, but it was a gift from my mom.)
This dress I wore to a party five years ago?
(What if I get an emergency invitation to a last-minute party ?)
This fancy designer label top I’ve never worn.
(But it was 80% off!)

But worse than the doubts about my clothes,
all of that looking at myself in the mirror
began to wear me down.

Suddenly, without much warning,
I had a total body image meltdown…
Instead of something wrong with my clothes,
it seemed like something was wrong with me!

Everything I tried on called into question my own self-image:
Does this blazer make me look “classic” or just plain frumpy?
Does this dress say “she’s so sexy” or “she’s trying too hard”?
Does this pair of shoes look stylish or ridiculous on me?
And what about those jeans that almost fit (and used to fit last year)?
Maybe I’ll be able to fit into them if …

My room was a mess, and so was I.
Unwanted piles of clothes, and unwanted waves of emotion.
Congratulations, fashionista!
You are getting rid of more than you bargained for…


Letting go of old ideas about your body
is a lot harder than sorting through old clothes!
It’s definitely not something that can be done in an afternoon…
But each tiny break through can be experienced as a cleaning out of an emotional closet.
It’s messy and unpredictable, but it opens up
space to be filled with new ideas about who you are.

  • Ideas of loving and respecting your body, just as it is.
  • Ideas of honoring and respecting your life, just as it is.
  • Ideas of being grateful for all that you already have, and all that you can be.

So go ahead fashionista, clean out your closet,
and maybe let go of some old ideas about yourself while you are at it!

Are you wondering why this illustration looks so different from my other ones?
This is what all of my illustrations look like when I first start out:
very messy with lots of scribbly lines as I try to figure out what goes where.
I did several very rough sketches (ball point pen on a 9 x 12 kid’s newsprint pad).
I scanned my favorite one, cleaned it up a bit (lots of erasures!)
and then added chalk to work out the colors.
The final illustration will be redrawn from this one (nice & clean, no scribbles)
and then all the color & detail is done using digital paint.
However, I kinda of like the messiness of the rough sketches…