Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Pair OR The Mental Health Benefits of Letting Stuff Go



I can tell you with absolute certainty what the oldest pair of underwear is.

I know what you're thinking: whoawhoawhoa back up, too much information. I do not need to hop aboard the Overshare Express and read about your ratty old panties. Well if that's what you just thought you can just take it back, you jump-to-conclusions-er.

When I was 17, I was not allowed to wear thongs, so I did what all proper teenagers do: during days off school, I snuck out of my house when my mother was at work, walked to the mall and bought some. It started with the ultra-plain kind they sell at Old Navy, three-packs of simple cotton thongs in neutral colors. I didn't stick to these gateway drugs of the undergarment world for very long, though: things quickly escalated to perusing the super sale racks at Wet Seal for the kind of sexy polyester I had always wanted.

I ransacked the place.

I acquired panties of all kinds of colors and patterns and stashed them away deep, deep in my dresser. I did my own laundry without fail for fear I would be caught and publicly shamed by my mother, who would be extremely disappointed that I was clearly sleeping with every guy in town based on a few purple ruffles. Pantygate would be the end of the world, but it was worth the risk for sure. I was 17 and I wore thongs. I was an adult.

There was one thong I did not have to hide in the laundry.

It was probably my favorite: light beige, silky smooth with flirty, flouncy mesh edges that were sprinkled with light pink and purple sequins. There was a bow on the front and the back.

This thong stayed in my drawer for one reason and one reason alone: it was too small. It was too small, but too pretty to get rid of.

When I was 17, I was the thinnest I have ever been in my entire life, but even at the weight I was, I longed desperately to be smaller.

This thong, my favorite one, was a challenge.

Five years later, I have gained all the weight I lost back and then some. Needless to say, I have never worn that thong. I never even came close to fitting into it, honestly-- no closer than the day I bought it anyhow. Yet for five years and countless spring cleanings, I have held onto that thong. I have picked it up, looked it over and put it back in the drawer for keeps.

Someday, I would think, someday I will be thin enough to wear this.


Recently, I chucked another piece of challenge clothing that I'd become quite attached to. It was a denim miniskirt I got at Old Navy around the same time I bought the thong. I haven't fit into it in years: it is a size 0, which in retrospect I can't even fathom despite Old Navy's penchant for vanity sizing. My boyfriend was with me while I was pruning my closet and brought it out.

"Can you believe I wore this?" I asked. He shrugged.

"Does it fit you now?" he asked. I raised an eyebrow and demonstrated. The skirt got to about the very bottoms of my thighs before it had stretched its farthest.

"Toss it," he said. He's very practical.

"I can't," I protested. "I like it. I don't think I'd ever wear it again even if I could fit into it, but it represents a time when I was skinny." It sounded sillier aloud than it ever did in my head.

"You know, you talk about how okay you are with your weight all the time, but if you were really okay with it, you would just get rid of that thing," he said. "It's stupid to keep it around just to remind you you were skinny once."

I make fun of this boy all the time, but he had a point: why was I keeping a piece of clothing I didn't even want as a trophy of my smallest size? That isn't the kind of body positivity I'm trying to have for myself. Thin Vanessa is not someone I need to mourn. Thin Vanessa and Fat Vanessa are the same person. I do not need that skirt as a memorial. Thin is not my biggest accomplishment, and I don't need to hold onto something in a way that suggests it was.

The skirt went into the box for Good Will. And as corny as it sounds, it was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders.

But I still have these panties, and I don't know what to do with them. Rather, I know what I need to do with them, but I am ever-so-slightly hesitant to make it happen. Even if I am ever thin enough to fit into them, do I really need them around as a reminder? Do I need to keep clothing that doesn't fit me to prod me to be the best I can be? Because "thin" and "best" are not the same. Thin is a challenge I do not need to undertake. I try to take care of my health and treat myself well, but how accomplished I feel in life should not rest on the number on the scale and a $2.00 pair of underwear.

I know what I have to do.

Will it be hard? Strangely, yes. For whatever reason-- and many of you have probably felt the same about clothing-- this particular pair of underwear means something to me. This thong means a time when I was close to some sort of commonly-held physical ideal and a part I battle with every day misses that, wishes so hard I could be that again. It would all be easier, maybe, but I know it wouldn't be because I've been there. No matter what you look like, if you don't love and accept yourself, you will always be unhappy with your appearance. This thong says, too, that even when I was that close, I was not close enough. I was not good enough. I know now that that isn't true. I was good enough all along, and you are, too.

I know what I have to do.


Do you hold on to clothing that doesn't fit? How long have you had it? Don't you think it's time you gave it up?

14 comments:

tywo said...

Haha..This made me smile! I can't wear thongs (TMI), but anyway, they are just so uncomfortable! :( So I stick to granny panties..haha..
I find it so hard to let go of my old things. ahhhh...I need to clean my closet.
Have a wonderful Friday, dear.



LOVE!

rubybastille said...

Once upon a time I thought that all skirts should hit at the hips, so I bought all my skirts with that as a benchmark, no matter what the hips and butt looked like. Then I discovered that an Anthropologie skirt I owned was actually a size or two too big because it was supposed to hit at my waist, not my hips. I'm holding onto it, though, because I won't have superhuman metabolism forever and THEN I can finally wear it.

StephanieDJL said...

Um are you me? Aside from a brief period of trying to be like everybody else in school, I don't wear thongs ick! But I have a gorgeous pair of french knickers that I got from god knows where centuries ago which have never fit! I'd forgotten about them but they're just too pretty to throw out. I do have far too many clothes & even shoes that don't fit & I'm holding on to them for emotional reasons, not good! Although a dress I've had for about 3 years, still has the tags on & everything, has never fit me, I finally managed to get on today. Excited wasn't even the word. (Good lawd life story much!?)

boopnut said...

I love your post! I have held on to pretty bras, dresses, etc. My biggest hold is my red leather skirt. It's a size 8. I never even got to wear it. I am now a size 14. I will never be an 8 again, but still. I want to make a purse out of it to remember a time.

D. said...

I save clothing that I will be able to wear proudly when I get skinny. I was convinced that I look fat in some shirts.. but, one day, I just got over it and started wearing them. I looked okay, better than ok - I was satisfied with the way I looked.
I still have some stuff that I hope to wear some day, but I'm not making a big deal about getting skinny anymore.

Miss Peregrin said...

I have a red leopard print pencil skirt & a pair of Emily The Strange studded jeans put away from when I was at my skinniest - 10kg's less than I am now. It's pretty ridiculous, because neither of the items is really my style anymore. I also highly doubt I will ever fit into them again, considering what I had to do to fit into them the first time. But for some reason, it is so hard to let them go.

Corrine/Frock And Roll said...

I LOVE this post!

To be honest, I'm pretty ruthless and tend to have the opposite problem - I'm guilty of culling clothing far too regularly and standing around and thinking ''HEY, why don't I have anything to wear?!'' I couldn't hold onto items that no longer fit me because it would probably drive me crazy!

fireflyfiasco said...

Your commentary on weight has been really inspiring to me. I love your blog, I love your writing, keep up the awesome work. <3

Gorgeous Lady said...

I'm a bit late in the day to comment... but I'd like to add my two cents.

I think you should keep the thong, but NOT as a reminder of when you were skinny. Keep them as a reminder of when you stepped into adulthood and bought yourself big-girl panties, as it were. Hold onto them as a keepsake for your coming of age. The fact that you were thinner at the time has nothing to do with it, frankly.

I've been absent for a while, but I still enjoy your posts!

Keep it up.
xx

Ilde said...

I'm a bit late in the day to comment... but I'd like to add my two cents.

I think you should keep the thong, but NOT as a reminder of when you were skinny. Keep them as a reminder of when you stepped into adulthood and bought yourself big-girl panties, as it were. Hold onto them as a keepsake for your coming of age. The fact that you were thinner at the time has nothing to do with it, frankly.

I've been absent for a while, but I still enjoy your posts!

Keep it up.
xx

Ilde said...

I'm a bit late in the day to comment... but I'd like to add my two cents.

I think you should keep the thong, but NOT as a reminder of when you were skinny. Keep them as a reminder of when you stepped into adulthood and bought yourself big-girl panties, as it were. Hold onto them as a keepsake for your coming of age. The fact that you were thinner at the time has nothing to do with it, frankly.

I've been absent for a while, but I still enjoy your posts!

Keep it up.
xx

RoseMarieandGenevieve said...

this post really inspired me to get rid the the drawer that is practically full of clothes I "will fit into again" I am not overweight but I have struggled with my body image and eating disorders. Thank you and please PLEASE keep blogging!

Jenny said...

May I suggest you commission an identical pair that does fit? You like the thong for reasons unrelated to your size then or now... you deserve to have this thing of beauty in your life that makes you happy, without the burden they can represent.

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