The weekend before last, I was feeling great in myself, no feeling of self-loathing in sight and whilst tidying my room I decided to go through the clothes in my closet. I was in the mood for a deep clear out, and it was definitely needed!
My Closet and My Body Image
Around two and a half years ago I put on a substantial amount of weight (around 10kg) and within a number of months another 5kg got added more gradually. This was a consequence of not wanting to move forward in my life, and instead digging my heels in. As a result a lot of my clothes, especially jeans and dresses, didn’t fit me any more. My body image hit rock bottom, and my self-loathing skyrocketed.
Instead of throwing these clothes away I made piles of them and put these piles at the back of my cupboard, so that when I ‘got skinny’ in the future (that was the plan), I would be able to wear them again. Sounds practical and simple, no? Or so I thought..
Back to the clear out…and Losing Excess Weight
Part of the reason I was going through my closet was because I have been starting to feel better about my body as I had lost some of this excess weight recently. It did not happen through any crazy diet, such as the one-day eating/one-day not eating, which I had tried before and it didn’t really work for me, or a new and improved exercise routine. All I did was start to make different choices to look after myself, and to do things that make me feel good – super simple. A stark contrast to the regular binges that I used to do almost every night, and the total lack of exercise. But that’s another story…
So, back to the closet, I was going through the clothes and although some of them now fitted me – I didn’t feel any self-applause, and there was no climatic moment, which is what I had expected myself to feel after hardly being able to breathe whenever I tried these clothes on over the past two years. Instead I actually felt unsettled and uncomfortable. But why?
When Self-Loathing came out of the Closet
Whilst trying the clothes, I could feel the self loathing that I had been bullying myself with just oozing out of the closet, like I had been holding my self and my body to ransom for all that time, saying “you’re not good enough unless you fit into these clothes”. That’s a lot of times, opening up my closet and instead of looking in my mirror on the inside of my cupboard door and appreciating and adoring what I saw, I was bullying myself in my head saying I was just not good enough.
What I realised is that these piles of self-loathing had just been sitting there in my room and in my mind/body for all this time, and I had been carrying it with me every single day. I can now understand why I have avoided looking at my body so much in the past and have just used clothes to hide in, instead of expressing how beautiful I actually am.
No more getting trapped in self-loathing
In the week after I cleared out my closet I felt a lot lighter – not necessarily on the scales, but in how I approached each day, and in everything that I did. It was interesting to notice that I enjoyed living in and looking at my body more and more as the week went on – which was amazing to feel, and I felt beautiful not because of how I looked in the mirror or if I fitted into the ‘skinny clothes’, but because of how I felt when I walked, worked and when I spoke.
But at the start of this week, there was a difference. There were those thoughts sneaking in again of, “you should lose weight” or “that’s not good enough”. At first I was annoyed, as I thought I had gotten over this self-loathing issue the week before! However, I realised it doesn’t happen just like that – my closet was just one ‘pocket’ that I had looked at and by looking at it and dealing with it (or at least having a first go, as there is more clearing out to do), it had made a huge difference in my life.
The question then came; what is the next pocket to look at?
I came to an understanding that instead of going the downward spiral way of putting myself down (which I have experienced), and getting trapped in self-loathing I can only grow in how beautiful I feel as a woman if I am prepared to look at what the next thing, in the way of me expressing in full, is there to let go of.
by Jessica Williams