real life

"I gave away my entire pre-baby wardrobe, and it feels great."

Image: Supplied.

There was a dress in my wardrobe that was haunting me. This dress belonged to a ghost: the ghost of Pre-Baby Carla. I used to genuinely love that dress – it was a floaty, floral purple day dress that had the perfect 90s vibe. But recently, I realised that I hate it.

The reason why I suddenly loathed this dress had nothing to do with fashion.

It was because I had started to use the dress as a form of measurement to see if my body had returned to its pre-baby shape. Every time I felt a bit thinner, or knew that I’d lost a kilo, I’d try on that dress.

Every time I would get down in the dumps because it didn’t fit the way it used to.

The existence of that dress started to bother me so much that one day I just gave it away forever and never looked back. I didn’t just give away one dress – I gave away all of my pre-baby clothes. It was liberating.

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When I was pregnant in 2013 with my daughter and had put on weight, I missed wearing my usual wardrobe but assumed that I could wear it again after I’d given birth.

Two years later, I was still struggling to lose those final three kilos that would bring me back to my pre-baby weight. I’d gained 25 kilos during my pregnancy with Emmeline – much of it was fluid, brought on by my chronic kidney disease, but admittedly, a lot of it was the mini apple pies with icecream that I ate everyday.

I worked hard to lose the majority of those 25 kilos but the last three kilos were the hardest to kick. I’m a fairly healthy person but I do lack the time to really commit myself to exercising. I’m actually happy with my body because I’m healthy and strong.

Carla GS collects clothes, not stamps. (Source: iStock.)
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My weight is in the “healthy” BMI range. Three kilos is not a big deal.

The only reason I wanted to lose three kilos was because I wanted fit back into my pre-baby wardrobe. I loved those clothes, and I loved what they represented – a woman who felt confident, attractive and creative.

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But it had been a long time since I’d worn any of those outfits. It was around June 2013 that my baby bump became more pronounced, so, I hadn’t worn any of my old wardrobe for over two years.

My husband and I would love to have another baby as soon as possible, so that means that potentially, my old clothes would sit in my wardrobe for almost five years until I could fit into them again.

Carla GS was puffy with fluid and icecream during her pregnancy in 2013. (Source: Supplied.)

I realised that my wardrobe had become a mausoleum. It was housing the clothes and memories of a person who didn’t exist any more: Pre-Baby Carla.

My life and body have changed forever since having Emmy and things can never go back to the way they were. I absolutely love being a mum and I’m proud that my body could house and nourish Emmy for nine months, especially when it had a chronic kidney disease.

Sure, I’d love to have stretch-mark free skin and perky boobs again but those changes occurred to my body because I nourished my baby with literally everything my body could provide.

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Yet every time I went to get dressed (which is everyday as I’m not a nudist) I would open my wardrobe and feel bad about myself.

I would see so many clothes which I knew I couldn’t fit into and that made me feel unhealthy and unfit – two things which are definitely not true about me. Even though I knew it would discourage me, I just couldn’t help trying on that purple dress every month or so.

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It wasn’t just the poor fit of my old clothes which stopped me from wearing them. They also felt uncomfortable because they were too tight.

Carla GS exercising, post-baby. (Image via Instagram user @carla_gs1)

Finally, I decided that the best thing to do for my body image and mental health would be to get rid of the clothes. The clothes were all in really good condition so I decided to give them to a Vinnies.

I actually had a talk with my husband about it, as I felt so guilty about giving away so many clothes. It felt wasteful to get rid of something which I could potentially still use one day.

That last sentence is the mantra of every hoarder, is it not? Jeff and I also share a bank account, and so I felt it was only fair that I discuss with him the possibility of giving away something which I had invested a lot of money into.

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Jeff was very supportive. His perspective was that keeping clothes that I wasn’t using could be another form of wastefulness. He said that another person could use and love those clothes instead and that would be better than just keeping those clothes in my wardrobe.

As soon as I decided to give away my clothes I had to do it immediately. I usually get caught in a haze of nostalgia when I try to throw things away but this time it was easy. I had decided that I would never wear those clothes again and my resolve motivated me to go through the clothes quickly.

I ended up with five very heavy garbage bags of clothes… and my wardrobe is still bulging. As I said, I’m a collector of clothes.

Maybe someone could find my clothes in a thrift shop, and give them a new life, like in Macklemore's "Thrift Shop" song.

Hauling those huge bags of clothes into the Vinnie's bin was the best feeling. I was finally letting go of the idea that “Pre-Baby Carla” was the best version of me. The clothes weren’t just fabric to cover my body – they were part of my identity and how I presented myself to the world.

But that time of my life was over and I was embarking on new adventures.

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Those old clothes made me feel obligated to be a person that I was in my past. I’m different now, and living in an exciting yet uncertain present. I don’t want to feel bound by tight clothes and ill-fitting notions. I want to be comfortable and confident,getting rid of those old clothes was just the beginning.

Surprisingly, I haven’t gone on a shopping spree for new clothes. I’m just loving knowing that each time I open my wardrobe, I won’t have that purple dress in there to shame me. There will be other new dresses in my future. For now, I’m enjoying the anticipation that comes with waiting to find the right dress for my new life.

Have you kept your pre-baby clothes? Are clothes part of your identity?

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