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5 Reasons to Get Rid of Your Skinny Jeans

Your Old Clothes Could Prevent You from Losing Weight

Peek into a woman's closet, and tucked amid all the clothes is something that almost every woman keeps. She strives to wear it again someday, no matter how unrealistic or out of style it may be. What is it? Her "skinny" jeans. Whether yours take the form of pants, swimwear or even an old suit or dress, women and men alike keep these too-small clothes for years. Some are even brand new, tags attached, bought as inspiration to lose weight so that garment would fit.

Recently, I started to wonder: Is it detrimental to hold on to your skinny jeans? I must confess that up until three years ago, I, too, had my own little cache of one-day-I-will-fit-into-these-again outfits. As with many trends in fashion, if you hang on to something long enough, it will eventually come back in style. I am not sure whether fashion itself or the desire to be a smaller size again was my motive. Not only did I still own the little black sundress I wore the night my husband and I met 27 years ago, but I also had my very first pair of Levi's 501 button-fly jeans tucked away in a drawer. But I’m not alone.

In 2006, a Talbots National Fit Study poll asked 2,200 women ranging in age from 35 to 65 about their clothes-buying habits. Here's what they found:
  • More than 33 percent 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.
  • Shockingly, 25 percent of the clothes women buy never leave their closets!
Does holding on to clothes that don't fit really motivate people lose weight, or could it be holding them back? Here's a list of honest reasons why keeping too-tight clothes might actually hurt your self-esteem, weight loss efforts and more.
  • They become a constant reminder that you are not at your "ideal" size. While it may seem motivating, this thinking can lead you down a destructive path to lower self-esteem and self-worth. And not only for people who are losing weight, but also for those who have experienced a change in body shape due to childbearing and/or age. When you are constantly measuring your self-worth based on the body of your youth, you'll never learn to embrace the person that you are today.
  • Keeping clothes from yesterday is a symptom of living in the past. Only after you let go of the past can you learn to accept yourself in the present with self-confidence and a sense of empowerment. You are no longer mourning what was and can live with what is. When I finally let go of my skinny jeans and sundress, I stopped trying to be the innocent 20-year-old from years past and gave myself permission to start a new chapter of my life, as the older, wiser and more mature woman that I am.
  • When your skinny jeans don't fit, you can feel like a failure, even when you're making real progress. Simply living a healthy lifestyle does a body good, regardless of your size or weight. But just as many people rely too heavily on the scale to measure their success, trying on clothes that don't fit can set you up for failure, too. Remember that the scale—or the size of your jeans—doesn't always determine your progress accurately.
  • Striving to fit into your skinny jeans may lead you to unsafe dieting practices. It isn’t uncommon for some women to strive for a weight that's too low and then resort to extremes in order to reach it. While you may admire your youthful looks, returning to them now might be unrealistic for you.
  • Longing for your former figure can prevent you from finding true happiness today. According to a February 2003 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry, a fear of failure drives many women to squeeze back into their skinny jeans. Instead of embracing who they are today, they won't accept, love or reward themselves until they reach "perfection." Many women believe that fitting into their skinny jeans can bring joy and happiness back into their lives, but simply holding on to those skinny jeans may be feeding their inadequacies.
With the media and Hollywood constantly inundating us with suggestive images about the perfect body, it isn’t surprising for countless studies to reveal that more women suffer from poor body image than men do. So how do we reverse this trend of negative body image?

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. Much like your weight, a clothing size is just a number, and sizing varies wildly from brand to brand. It's much more important to wear clothes that flatter and fit you, regardless of what the tag reads. Sometimes, simply wearing a well-fit pair of jeans can boost your confidence. Refusing to buy a larger size, even though it's more comfortable and flattering, or squeezing into a smaller size, even though it's too tight, can make you feel worse about yourself.

Today, I encourage you to open your closets and drawers. Gather everything that doesn’t fit you TODAY, especially clothes that are too small. Free yourself from the past and the silent criticism of your skinny jeans once and for all! Here are some ways you can get rid of your old clothes instead of sending them to a landfill:
  • Donate your clothes. Local shelters, Goodwill organizations and other nonprofits usually accept gently worn clothing. Giving back to the community allows us to help those who need our assistance, so this is a win-win.
  • Resell your old clothes at a consignment shop or online (eBay and craigslist are good ideas). You could make a few extra dollars, and you might find a deal on some "new" things in the size you currently wear. While many women don't want to buy new clothes until they've reached their goal weight, feeling pretty and attractive is important for everyone, here and now. You deserve to feel good about yourself and your wardrobe every day.
When I finally let go of my old clothes, I realized that I was not the clothes and the clothes were not me. These days, when I open the closet, I don't see all the clothes I can't wear and think, "What if?" Now I open the closet and think, "What will I wear today?"

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.

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Member Comments

  • if you haven't worn it in 2 or more years get rid of it
  • I figure someone else can use whatever I can't fit into. And thrift stores are good places to shop in between starting and goal weight.
  • I am currently a size 16, down from an 18/20. I kept my 16's & was glad. I have also kept my 14's because I am close to fitting into them. I did donate everything below a 14 though. I will buy new when I reach that point.
  • I did this right before I joined Spark. It was so scary at the time, like I was losing part of myself or "giving up" on my health and fitness goals, but I've felt so much better since.
  • If I haven't worn something in 2 years I give it away.
  • I saved clothes from 12 years ago & I wasn't living in the past. When I was actively losing weight, they served as motivation and I loved to keep trying them on to see how close I was to fitting them.
    But all but 1 item, when I could finally fit them, I didn't like them anymore. The blouse that I have kept was a must-have and I still love it and this year was the first year I could button it without back far bulges.
  • To start with I don't feel that I need a closet full of clothes. As I lost weight I donated what were too big. I did have some jeans packed away that I was able to wear. I do not plan to ever regain the 85 pounds I lost. A few pair of jeans. Some tops and a few dress clothes and I am good to go.
  • I don't agree with this article either! Like others, I'm not rich - I can't afford to keep buying clothes nor do I want to. Back when I lost 60 pounds on spark, I donated a lot of my fat clothes, including several pieces I really liked. When that weight crept back on, I was kicking myself because I had to go out and buy new clothes that I didn't like nearly as much and couldn't really afford.

    I have been keeping clothes that I really like or that are wardrobe basics that don't fit, and now as the weight comes off again, I can start going shopping in my own stash rather than fork over hard earned dollars for lesser quality clothing.
  • Well, I may be the ONLY one that disagrees with this article. Yes, I have kept all of my old jeans, skirts, etc.,I wore in my 20's. It was my goal setter..and guess what? I fit in them. Unbelievable.
  • Most of my smaller-sized jeans went to my daughter a few years ago. The only jeans left in my closet that I could not fit into were just a size down from the current size I was wearing. I lost 20 pounds this year and now they fit so I'm glad I kept them. Getting into these jeans was a realistic goal that I was able to meet.
    I'm 70 and on fixed income. Been losing and gaining weight since age 12. Do not get rid of too many clothes during your lifetime, unless you are rich ! At least save basics, because the average person does not lose weight and keep it off forever!! No matter what "experts" say.... with the ups and downs of life, you will be glad to have some clothes to wear handy, average persons can't afford to replace a whole wardrobe every time they lose a good portion of weight. Be realistic. Be practical.
  • When I put on weight, I got rid of a lot of my clothes from skinnier days but only the ordinary stuff like plain jeans and simple tops that could easily be replaced. I kept the unique items that I really loved, and now I can fit into most of them again. One thing I did notice, especially about the pants I kept, is that when I was younger and thinner I wasn't necessarily "fit". Now I have much more muscle definition and smaller hips then my old "skinny pants". So I say keep what you love and shop at discount stores for the rest during your journey back to fitness.
  • And, don't believe the comment about not donating to Goodwill. If you go to snopes, you will find that is a false story circulating on the internet.
  • I don't necessarily agree with this. Yes, get rid of clothes that are way out of style but keeping smaller clothes can be a healthy goal reminder. And, replacing wardrobes is expensive. If I can fit into those smaller clothes again, I'm saving money.

    But, get rid of one's fat clothes. When you hold on to items that are too large, I believe you are subconsciously telling yourself you are going to fail and will need your fat clothes again. I did that for years. Now I donate them so I have to make sure I stay on the fit track. I refuse to buy larger sizes stain. I did save 1 pair of jeans from my heaviest. Just yesterday I laid a pair of my current jeans on top of my fat jeans and marveled at how far I've come.
  • I get what you are saying but I disagree with almost everything in this article. Not only did I keep my skinny "jeans" (although I don't wear jeans, I have skinny BDUs), I am also keeping the fat clothes that are already too loose. I love both. They are great motivators. Yesterday I got my skinny pants to button! Still too tight to wear - but a huge visible indicator of progress. A huge morale boost. Glad I did not throw them out!

    Accepting who I am? If I accepted being fat I would stay fat. The whole point of this endeavor is change who I am. Internally, I accept myself - I am a good person - but I do not accept my body. I am taking control and making the body I want. The old clothes are a good reminder of my goal.

    A reminder that I am not at my ideal size? Good! I need constant reminding and motivation. I try the pants on once a month, when I take my measurements, just to see how much progress I have made. Why would I throw out such a good motivator?

    If you are inclined to eating disorders to fit into the skinny clothes then yes, they could be bad. Although it is not the skinny clothe's fault. Luckily that is not the case for me. I love having the skinny and the fat clothes. I would not want to get rid of either size! But...when I do get down to my desired weight... and entire new wardrobe will be in order ha ha.

About The Author

Nancy Howard Nancy Howard
Nancy is an avid runner and health enthusiast. A retired pediatric nurse, she received her bachelor's degree in nursing from Texas Woman's University and is also a certified running coach and ACE-certified personal trainer.