We all have two things in common. We all have to eat and we all have to dress. Well, you can go naked at home but as soon as you step outside your door, you are required to wear clothes.
These two are the fundamentals of life. And they have a lot in common.
As the amount of food and the places to eat them have increased, so have the amount of clothes and the number of places to buy them. We have cheap takeaway food and we have cheap, imported, take-away clothing.
Experts everywhere are worried about our food obesity epidemic. Our clothing obesity epidemic is mostly hidden.
You can’t hide increasing weight. You can hide your increasing clothing and accessory stash. We have gone from stand-alone wardrobes (or closets) to built-in wardrobes to walk-in wardrobes to taking over the spare rooms in our homes when we are childless or our adult children leave home. We also have other hidden spaces for them – under the bed, in the ceiling, under the house and any other place you can find a bit of space and something to disguise what’s hidden inside it.
Men are not immune to this. Mostly they are the ones throwing up their hands in despair and making jokes about our lament of ‘having nothing to wear’.
We have de-cluttering articles, books and programs (and I’ve written one). De-cluttering is a surface solution. It does not tackle the real problem.
Let Me Tell You a Story
A few weeks ago I had to take my husband to a hospital for a major check-up. It was going to take some time: so I decided to find a local café where I could sit and write one of my newsletter articles with a cup of coffee and a slice of raisin toast. Sounds good! I was lying to myself. I wasn’t going for the raisin toast. I was going for a nice cake. The coffee was my excuse.
I found a café and was tempted by the berry cake pictured (it’s still fruit). The picture was going to go on Facebook but the cake was so dry, I never posted it. Yet, I ate it all and didn’t complain or leave it on the plate. ‘Not again!’ I thought, ‘Deceived by pretty packaging!’ I too am a work-in-progress.
One of the Ways We Get Clothing Obese
This is similar to how we women buy clothes. We start out with good intentions to only buy one or maybe two things. We are seduced by all the choices around us. We come home maybe with the item we were searching for but often with that and more or something completely different. UK research in 2009 on ‘Sheconomics’ concluded that 80% of women shop to ‘cheer themselves up.’ There are some personality types who can be single-minded in their shopping all the time. For the rest of us, it’s our emotional state that decides whether we stay focused or get distracted. It’s the distracted emotional state that causes us to buy items that we regret buying when we get home.
Our complaints are many. It doesn’t look as good as in the shop. It goes with only one item in our wardrobe or we start to worry how others will perceive us when we wear it. We may have bought it for one event and then don’t go. We buy it for one circumstance and that circumstance never happens again. It’s tighter than it was in the shop.
Unlike my very dry fruit cake, clothes and accessories can often be untouched and unworn and hidden somewhere. Rarely are they returned. There’s even a website called ‘hardly ever worn it’ where people sell their expensive designer clothes and accessories at a greatly reduced price.
What is the result? We end up with a wardrobe and other spaces jam-packed with clothes. And we cry that we still have ‘nothing to wear’. We forget what we have bought because to go there may bring up emotions of failure and shame. And that’s a painful place. There’s a lot of similarity between our eating habits and our clothes buying habits.
The Similarity between Food Obesity & Clothing Obesity
The most common solution offered for food obesity is ‘diet’ and the most common solution offered for clothing obesity is ‘de-clutter’. Both don’t work. They are about restrictions.
The answer to both is a ‘Lifestyle Plan’. A Food Lifestyle Plan and a Clothing Lifestyle Plan are about changing habits for the rest of your life. You change both emotional habits and practical habits. De-cluttering gets rid of items but unless you learn new dressing habits, you will just refill your clothing spaces with items similar to those you threw out.
The Big Question
Do you have clothing obesity in your wardrobe and other spaces? What if you learnt to live with less clothes, shoes, handbags, scarves and jewellery? What if your work wardrobe, your casual wardrobe, your travel wardrobe and your formal wardrobe contained only clothes you loved and wore regularly?
How would you feel?
I have finally defined my mission – to combat clothing obesity. You will read more of these coming changes in future articles and offers.