Health & Wellness Articles

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

  • 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.

  • I disagree and see nothing wrong with fitting into smaller clothes you ounce wore!I have lost 45 pounds in 8 months and gone from size 16 to size 10. I was size 12 before I gained weight because of a blood clot for 8 months when I could not walk 2 blocks a day and was in constant pain and went to the hospital daily for I.V. treatments so I had trouble cooking.I was size 12 for 15 years. In high school I was size 10 and am now back to a size 10. I had to buy all new clothes but kept all my old clothes in different sizes so to have clothes to wear as I lost weight. I can now buy new skinny jeans in size 10 that fit and look good in fitted dresses as well. I like being able to wear fitted clothes that show my curves.
  • I hear what your saying although I do have a loved pair of jeans that are 10 lbs away
  • This article made some good points. I, however, kept all my "skinny" clothes once I gained weight. I loved those clothes and was determined, one day, to fit into them again. I packed them up in boxes and put them in storage (that way, they could not torture me daily when I couldn't fit into them). Now, as I've been losing weight steadily over the past couple years, more and more of those "skinny" clothes are able to come unpacked and I can actually fit into some of them! A family member commented, "Wow! You were right to hang onto all those skinny clothes!" For one, I can't afford to buy a new wardrobe each time I reach a new size. I can buy a cheap pair of pants, or pants at a resale shop, to hold me over as I'm transitioning through a size, but my goal weight (and a healthy weight) is close to what I was in high school, which wasn't overly tiny, a size 10-12. I have about 35 more pounds to lose and I'll be there!

  • I'm so glad I kept some of my smaller clothes, I wore a pair of jeans yesterday that I love and couldn't fit in for years. I didn't keep them for any big reason, just because they're clothes I like. I'm sure the advice is good for some people.
    Before donating to Goodwill, I suggest you read this: http://www.huffin

    There are so many other charities out there like Salvation Army or Paralyzed American Veterans that do so much more for deserving people.
  • When I was 38 I was a size 6-8. I slowly gained weight through the years and hung on to some of those size 6 clothes. I went up to a size 18. I lost 43 lbs 2 years ago and I am now 64 and retired and in a size 12. I kept one pair of size 18 jeans as a reminder. I am a size 12 now, and much happier as a size 12 than a size 6. Those small clothes that I could not fit into were donated to Goodwill along with all the larger sized clothes that were too big. I have maintained my weight for two years at 152 lb/size 12. I am happy, healthy, look good and best of all, I am active, have a bunch of friends, do fun things all the time. Life is good when you understand that health and happiness are the most important things!
  • Always check out the organization you are going to donate to. If you do, you'll find Goodwill has a big name but not a great record. Salvation Army is a much better choice (as are many others).
  • actually, I held on to the last pair of jeans I had fit into when I'd lost weight. Only difference now is, they are too loose! Not too tight!! That was a great day!
  • I agree with the person who commented on the bossy style of the article. There is a formula for glossy magazine articles and this follows that formula, which is a shame.
  • Wow! Are you kidding me today? I can't believe I read this. I mean - in a good way.

    I think my closet is filled with about 90% of stuff I can't wear today. I'm motivated to go home this evening and bag up my clothes.

    Thanks, from the bottom of my heart.
  • I can agree and disagree with this article. Yes, I think when I got rid of all my 8's and 10's and size medium shirts I made the right choice, because getting down to that size again is very unrealistic for me, not to mention, if I ever did get that small again (ha it would take a miracle!!) I would want to celebrate with some new clothes and not wear my old college and yes even high school clothes. At a size 16/ XL now, I do save my 12's and 14's and Large shirts though because I know that those are realistic goals for me and that I will fit into them again once I reach my goal weight. Also, these clothes that I am hanging onto are really nice and I paid a lot of money for them so I want to wear them again!
  • It's interesting that just today I watched a SP video about posting goals in places you can see them being a simple trick to making progress. For some people I suppose, those jeans hanging in the closet is "living in the past" for others, it might represent an unrealistic goal but for some (and I am one of them) those skinny jeans were emblematic of my absolute determination to never EVER give up. Because of medical issues, I have been unable to lose weight following conventional diet/exercise advice and nobody seemed to be able to help me. It would have been easy to give up in the 16 years of only watching the scale go up and for me, getting rid of the skinny jeans would have been a symbol of being all done with the effort. My doctors and I have finally figured out my issues and I am now in some of those skinny jeans and I weep with joy every time I put them on. Are they the latest style? No. Do I care? No. When I get to my goal weight, I am hiring a stylist and we're going to go through my whole closet and deal with it then....although the "fat" clothes are going to charity now. In the meantime, I am happy I've got stuff to wear that isn't too awful. I guess, I wish SP articles were written in a way that felt less like telling us what to do and more like helping us to evaluate what works for us. Yes. I know I can do that anyway but it would be nice if the articles were written that way to start with. How about a title like "Are your skinny jeans keeping you from losing weight? 5 reasons you might want to reevaluate having them in your closet."?
  • I agree with what others are saying. I have lost almost 50 pounds in the past several months and so far, I have not had to run out and buy new clothes. I am able to wear the clothes in my closet that used to be too small. I am however donating all my fat clothes as soon as they become too big. Granted, I do have skinny clothes that are outdated or that I will never wear so they are going to go. But, I'm keeping all my skinny jeans and dress pants until I reach my goal weight. Then, and only then will I clean out my closet and buy some new clothes. Guess that's the thriftiness coming out in me.
  • I disagree. It makes me feel good to get back into a pair of pants I couldn't wear for awhile. Sadly when I don't work out on the machines is when I gain inches and can't wear some of my pants. I don't gain wt but inches. I can't work out consistently due to pain and med issues sooo I forgive myself and start back when I can.

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.

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