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"Why, three episodes into Marie Kondo's new Netflix show, I had to switch off."

As a long time professor of “new year, new me!”, I curled-up on my couch yesterday to watch Tidying-Up With Marie Kondo on Netflix.

In this trending new series, bestselling author Kondo teaches ordinary people how to free themselves from unnecessary clutter and only keep the items that ‘spark joy’, using the KonMari method of tidying-up.

After three episodes, I couldn’t watch anymore.

It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the show – I loved it. I loved it so much that I needed to get-up and start “kondo-ing” my house right away.

Kondo says that the first step of the KonMari method is to declutter your wardrobe. I thought that this step would be easy for me, because I clean-out my wardrobe quite regularly, but I found some uneasy emotions arise when I noticed a particular section of my wardrobe – ‘my fat clothes’.

Video by Netflix

I want to preface the rest of this story by saying that I genuinely believe that all body shapes are beautiful. I call these clothes ‘my fat clothes’ due to my own complicated relationship with my body image and, from a pragmatic point of view, they were the clothes I wore when I was at my biggest. I would never call another person fat, but I’ve lost count of how many times I have slurred that loaded word at myself.

My weight has fluctuated since the moment I hit puberty. I was one of those girls who seemingly developed curves overnight and before any of my friends. Out of fear of looking different and feeling like I didn’t belong, I hid my beautiful little body under baggy clothes and developed a completely unnecessary sense of shame.

This shame unfortunately followed me into adulthood and got reinforced by societal expectations. Not to mention when friends, family or even strangers made comments about my body through its various shapely seasons that reinforced the idea that slim is good and curvy is bad.

The clothes in the ‘fat’ section of my wardrobe were purchased during a pretty sucky time in my life. Due to challenging circumstances and side affects of some medication, I was at my biggest. Within a year I went-up three dress sizes.

LISTEN: The big problem with Marie Kondo’s method for tidying up. Post continues.

I can vividly remember being in a Glassons fitting room, struggling to squeeze into a pair of pants and realising just how much weight I’ve gained. I decided that day, that I never wanted to have that realisation in a public place again.

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I’ve lost most of the extra weight now, but I’ve kept the bigger pants.

In fact, half my wardrobe has become clothes that are too big for me. I’m holding onto those clothes so that I will never again be a shocked mess in a dressing room.

If I gain weight again, I can just quietly put on the bigger pants in the privacy of my own home. And I won’t have to pay for them.

While holding onto these larger-sized clothes might be an act of emotional preservation thinly-veiled as a money-saving tactic, do they spark the joy that Kondo says our belongings should provide?

Absolutely not.

As Kondo instructed, I put all my clothes on my bed and went through them one by one, holding them, assessing how they made me feel and sorting them into piles of what I would keep, and what I would donate.

I was shocked to discover that I owned clothes in a lot of sizes. Due to my curvy shape, I’ve always bought whatever size fitted me best, knowing that my average size was a 10 to 12. But in this clean out, I discovered that I had held onto clothes ranging from a size 8 to a size 16!

Then a realisation hit me hard – I’ve worn a range of sizes over the years, but I’ve never truly loved how I looked.

Whether I was wearing a size 8 or a size 16, I’ve never loved my thighs. Or my stomach. Or my arms. No matter what size I am, I always scrutinise the same parts of myself – my curves. The curves that my pre-teen self was so afraid of. The same “problem areas” have bugged me no matter how big or small my physical form actually is.

Now what? Now that I know for sure that loving my body doesn’t come from a weight, or a waist measurement or even the coveted size 8 dress tag, how do I learn to give myself a break and love my body for what it is?

I don’t have an answer yet, but what I do know for sure is that I’m going to stop waiting to feel thin enough and try to focus on feeling happy with the shape I’ve been given, no matter how much I weigh.

And I’m going to start by not using the phrase ‘fat clothes’ anymore. So, what did I do with those bigger sized clothes?

As much as I would like to say that I donated them all. I held onto a few pieces. Sorry, Marie Kondo.

If the day comes that I need to put on those larger sizes again, I hope that I won’t feel the sense of failure that frightened young woman in the dressing room felt five years ago. I hope that I’ll have the maturity to understand that my body is just as deserving of love, no matter what number is printed on the label of my jeans.

Claire is a writer, entertainer and teacher based in Melbourne. You can check out more of her work on her blog, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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