Full Closet. Nothing to Wear!

© 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…

7 comments to Full Closet. Nothing to Wear!

  • [...] Super excited to find Elizabeth Patch’s More to Love Blog, which contains inspiring articles and her beautiful artwork of real women. Check out her post on cleaning out her closet along with negative body image thoughts here. [...]

  • Kathy, thinking about a drawer full of old bras makes me smile! I should add some into the pile in this drawing.
    I would love to read your post on cleaning out the closets, who knows what you will discover?!

  • I love this post, Elizabeth–cleaning out a closet gets rid of much more than unneeded clothes, if we’re lucky. I’ve got “clean out closet” and “clean out dresser” (getting rid of old bras–now there’s some fun) on my to-do list in the next couple weeks, so I’ll probably reread your post–and maybe write one of my own. I really like the idea of getting rid of the old so the new can have room to enter.

  • Leslie Neshama

    Elizabeth — As I start out my week, I also receive your drawing, your words, your emotions. I am so touched by them all. What I feel is the upheaval many of us go through – *I* go through – when sifting through clothing, and memories. I have been binging lately, and my clothes are becoming tight. I am at a loss of words…..You have touched my heart. Thank you for being here. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

    • thank you Leslie for sharing.(and all those hearts!)
      so many of us experience the same complex up & down feelings about our bodies… I am glad my experience can touch yours. When I am having a rough time (I struggled with ED for many, many years) I try to remember the simple idea of being as gentle with myself as I would be to my own best friend. sending you some gentleness.

  • Mel

    I love this article. I like your transparency in writing. I think all women seem to have this issue. I find I’m like that whether I’m trying on 2 outfits or 20.
    As for the sketch, I think it fits the article. The rough edges of the sketch illustrate the chaos and frustration of your experience, yet it’s beautiful, like the experience. I think you should keep it as is, but that is just my opinion. Your illustration proves that in chaos there can be order and beauty.

    • I do think most women have this (or a very similar) issue. We are all in this together…and I do think I will keep this illustration as is. I may do a more “polished” version at some point, but for this experience it did seem right. thanks for the insightful comment Mel!