Slave To Fashion? Not Me — And Not My Daughter, Either

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mother, daughter, fashion
One mom's quest to teach her little girl that self-worth has nothing to do with a price tag.

Nine months after I had my daughter, I stood in my bedroom triumphantly zipping up my skinny jeans. I did a silent fist pump (the baby was sleeping after all) and put on my favorite top. Full of confidence, I ran to the mirror.

I expected to see myself again. Average height. Size six. Brown hair. Crooked smile. Bohemian style. Instead, I saw tired eyes, floppy skin, and a muffin top. The clothes that I once thought were "youthful" and full of whimsy now looked ill-fitting and shapeless.

It’s no lie that having a child changes your body. I have flaps of skin that refuse to go away, thigh dimples that cling to me no matter how much I run, or lift, or how well I eat. But that morning, nine months post-partum, I also discovered that having a child meant I saw myself and how I dressed in a whole different light. What I once thought was trendy now looked cheap. And as I dug through the piles of my old clothes, I realized that something had to change.

I’ve always been frugal. And it didn’t help that I married a Midwesterner who insists on washing Ziplocs, saving twist ties and DIYing the hell out of everything. And seven years of marriage really brought out the cheap in me. I had a closet, dresser and two plastic totes full of clothes — purchased from Walmart, Target clearance and Goodwill — and nothing to wear.

My first instinct was to go shopping. As middle-class Americans that’s what we’re trained to do. Don’t like it? Time to shop. But as I looked at my piles of clothes, I realized that shopping wasn’t going to fix the problem; shopping was the problem.

The rise and fall of our society, depends on the durability of our economy. But spending comes at a cost, much higher than a price tag. Mindless consumerism can lead us to believe our value lies in what we own and what we wear. And as a woman raising a (future) woman, I wanted more for my daughter. I wanted her to have the freedom to divorce her self-worth from what she wore. But how could I teach her that when here I was — 29-years-old, wallowing in a pile of cheap cotton-poly blends and feeling worthless?

I had some other motives as well. This was going to be the year I finally paid off my student loans, so I could start saving for my daughter’s college fund – and, god willing, we could have another child. So I stood up. I got some trash bags, made a “donate” pile, and vowed not to shop for clothes for six months. But really, in the end, I gave up clothes, because too much of my self-worth was invested in them; it was time to go on a clothing fast. Six months later, I renewed my vow for the rest of the year. I called it "No Pants 2012."

And it wasn’t easy. Normally, most of my days are spent indoors working from home. But as luck would have it in 2012, I had two photo shoots where my picture ended up on billboards and signage around my town. I spoke at a conference and went to an independent film festival in L.A. where my movie premiered. All without new clothes. I know, first world problems, right?  Keep reading ... 

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