Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Body Confidence and Your Skinny Jeans

This morning in my email inbox I received my latest SparkPeople newsletter. There was one article that stood out, 5 Reasons to Get Rid of Your Skinny Jeans.

The article, written by Nancy Howard, discusses the harsh reality that holding on to those skinny jeans keeps you in the past, and life is too short to not live here in the present. I have mixed feelings about this topic, because while I agree that many women holding on to their "skinny jeans" (or dress or swimsuit) are doing so with the unrealistic goal to once again be the size they wore at age 16, I began my own weight loss journey with the same intentions. And truthfully, I'm pretty sure it's the only thing that kept me going.

To be fair, the "goal jeans" I was working my way into were always only one size below what I was currently wearing. By stroke of pure luck (and good friendship) my buddy Shayla had lost 50lbs and was finally ready to get rid of her "fat pants." After a failed attempt to sell them at our yard sale, I bought the entire lot (16 pairs from size 16 down to 12) for 2 packs of cigarettes. An odd exchange toward a healthier lifestyle. At the time I acquired these jeans, I could barely get the 16s to mid-thigh. Each week I would try them on, and each week I would see that I was just a little bit closer to wearing them.

Some of the jeans were ill-flattering for my body shape, even by the time they fit. Others felt like they were cut specifically for my body. Now, at a size 10, I am grateful to have had those jeans to get me through this adventure with minimal cost (for jeans anyway) and to give me a clear view of where I was going.

My opposition to this situation, however, is when I hear about people buying a dress (or jeans, or a swimsuit) in a size that is likely half of where they are with intentions to wear it when they "lose the weight." The only problem here is, you'll have NO IDEA what your body looks like. Literally. None. Chances are, that item is not going to flatter you later on, and you also lose out on the fun of buying that perfect reward that looks as if it were custom-made.

Here are some statistics from the article that I found interesting (and true!)

  • More than 33 percent [of women] admitted to having clothes in their closet that were too small for them to wear.

  • Surprisingly, 85 percent “determined if something fit them by looking at the size tag,” not by how the clothing actually fit.

  • Forty percent purchased clothes that were too small in hopes that they would one day be able to wear them after losing weight.

  • 25 percent of the clothes women buy never leave their closets!

She goes on to write about the importance of fit, and how size ain't nothin' but a number. Seriously, sizes vary greatly between designers. I mentioned above that I am a size 10, but that's only at a few stores. Others, I wear an 8, and even others I wear a 12 or 14! I'm not worried about it. I look for clothes that flatter my body. The size tag is inside them -- who will know? The fact of the matter is that you will look smaller if you were clothes that fit you. No one likes the whole bursting at the seams thing. Never in style.

She also writes about something I hadn't heard of...

Every February for the past 21 years, the National Eating Disorder Association has held a National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. NEDA works tirelessly helping women to develop a more positive body image. In 2008, the theme for the week was “Be comfortable in your genes. Wear jeans that fit the TRUE you.” Women were encouraged to donate their skinny jeans to release themselves from the constraints of longing to be the size they once were, therefore creating a sense of self-acceptance. No one should allow the size of his or her clothes to determine their self-worth.

Personally, I love attending and hosting clothing swaps as a way to recycle my clothes. I do this for purely selfish reasons - because it gets me more clothes! However, I am huge on donating items. My whole career is based on it. I run a Free Store that is open to the low income community of Minneapolis. Anyone can come and shop for what they need. It's a great program, highly utilized, and a fantastic way to have your donation go directly into the hands of those who need it, rather than being sold. After each clothing swap I attend or host, we pack up all of our leftovers and I bring them to work. Everyone wins!

The article closes with a really well developed thought that I will leave with you,

"Letting go of your skinny jeans can release you from the past—and the unrealistic expectations that you may have put on yourself. By living in the present, you can accept yourself and your life at this moment. It allows you to move ahead in your life with dignity and self-respect. By focusing the positive and looking forward, you build greater confidence, which can increase your chances of success."


  1. Great post - I must admit that one of the biggest rewards of weight loss is finding lots of clothes that actually fit properly! Now if only I had more money to be able to take them home with me... I love your idea of clothing swaps. Unfortunately I don't know a single woman who would fit into my clothes! My best friend is 7 inches taller, and my coworkers are all tiny. Ahh, but I'll live vicariously through you. Ever consider opening a store in Vermont? :)

  2. You would be VERY suprised what an eclectic mix of sizes will bring you in a clothing swap! Many dresses really are one size fits all, even if they're sized!

    Haven't you seen Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? (If you haven't, don't see it. It's a horrible movie, but it fits with my point).

    If for some reason you weren't able to find clothes-clothes, everyone brings shoes, jewelry, purses, accessories, et all to the swap also. I am VERY short, so I can never find pants, but I always leave with lots of pretty scarves, shoes and purses! Those can totally re-work a boring outfit!

    Thanks for being such a fun commenter!