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How to Have a Closet-Cleanout:Empowering Steps Towards Body Acceptance

By Erin Gilbert, RDN, CSO, LDN

Birds are chirping, the sun is staying out longer & warmer weather is on the way. With Spring around the corner, this can be the perfect opportunity to spring clean your closet & make sure your wardrobe is ready for warmer weather clothes. While this may feel like a daunting task, it can also be a transformative step in healing from an eating disorder or chronic dieting. If your body has gone through some changes, it can be an empowering part of the recovery process to accept the body that you are in today & to clean out clothes that no longer serve it. Here are some tips to get you started.

Before your closet clean-out…

  1. Commit to a time & set a time limit It’s totally normal if the idea of a closet clean-out seems like something you’d rather avoid. However, being faced with a closet or dresser full of clothes that no longer reflect the needs of your current body can make working on your body image even tougher. By setting a day & time, you’re more likely to stick to the challenge (even if you’d rather not!).

By setting a time limit you can also prevent the clean-out process from becoming too drawn out or overwhelming. Depending on how many clothes you have, 45 minutes to 1 hour may be appropriate. If you need to schedule a second closet clean-out in a couple months, that’s okay.

  1. Bring in the good vibes

Brainstorm some things you can put into place to make the clean-out session as comfortable as possible. For example, you may consider making a playlist of all your favorite Lizzo & Taylor Swift jams! It could be helpful to see if a supportive friend, partner, or support animal can join you, but it’s also fine if you would feel more comfortable doing this challenge solo.

  1. Eat a meal!

It may be tempting to do the closet clean-out on an empty stomach, especially if you tend to feel self conscious or hyper aware of your body after a meal. However, that’s exactly why you should eat something beforehand! It’s absolutely normal for bodies to look & feel a little bit different when they are digesting food. It is important to make sure your clothes fit you comfortably before AND after eating.

During your closet clean-out…

  1. Close your eyes

The day you’ve circled on your calendar is here! You’ve got your power playlist & supportive puppy nearby. Now the tough part- trying the clothes on.

You may find it helpful to sort your clothing into piles- “definitely fits”, “definitely doesn’t fit”, & “maybe fits”. You are going to have to try on the “maybe fits”, but instead of focusing on how you look in the mirror…close your eyes. By trying on the clothing with eyes closed you can focus on how you feel.

Ask yourself- Do I feel like the clothing is covering where I want it to? Does it feel like it is the right length for me? Do I feel physically comfortable? Only if you’ve answered yes to these questions should you open your eyes & make any final decisions based off of what you see in the mirror.

  1. Practice these affirmations As you are going through the clean-out process, here are some helpful thoughts to remind yourself of:

  • Clothes are meant to fit my body. My body is not meant to fit into clothes.

  • If I try something on & it no longer fits, this is not a reflection of my worth & this does not mean that me or my body has failed.

  • Bodies are meant to change throughout different life stages.

  • I deserve to wear clothes that I feel comfortable & confident in, even if that means the next size up.

After your closet clean-out…

  1. It’s okay to grieve

Let’s face it - clothing often can have sentimental value. It’s valid if you are feeling emotional at the concept of getting rid of the sweater you wore on your first date with your partner, the power blazer that landed you your dream job, or the dress you wore on your favorite vacation with friends. Take some time to feel any emotions that pop up- journal & reflect about the good times you had in this piece of fabric. If you have some photos of you wearing the clothing, awesome! & if not- consider taking a photo of it to capture the fond memories. You can hold onto the memories without trying to squeeze into clothing that no longer serves you.

  1. Give your clothing new life!

You can give your clothing new life by donating it, selling it, or giving it to a friend. It can be hard to part with your favorite outfits, but fun to know they are going to get good use.

  1. Refill your closet with items that do serve you! Hello shopping spree! Time to get you some outfits that make you feel like a bad b*tch! Hit the mall or your favorite online stores. If budget is a concern, check out thrift stores, online resale stores, or consider hosting a clothing exchange with your friends. Remember, the most stylish outfit is the one that allows you to be comfortable & confident- no matter what the tag size says.

We hope you find these tips helpful & that they may inspire you to take back control of your closet! While you are refilling your wardrobe with fun new outfits, don’t forget to check out our merch at: Starting April 1, 100% of our proceeds will be donated to Brandywine SPCA.

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