So I spent some time ruminating over our finances as a way to celebrate the season. I’m pleased to announce that I successfully made it through 2014 with only a few minor hiccups in the clothes-buying department. My grand total for the year…
May be no big to a lot of people, but for me, this is huge! Let’s talk about the hiccups. Firstly, which I already confessed publicly, I purchased some bunion-friendly shoes over the summer. They’re great. Health matters, and I’m feeling fine about it. The rest of the spending went to two pairs of yoga pants and an extra pair of athletic shoes. Also for work, because I have to go to the Y, and I wasn’t about being out and about with clients with my sad old somewhat transparent athletic pants. And then there was the day that I forgot my shoes at home and had to run to Target and pick up an emergency pair. Also feeling fine about it, because $137.04. For the year!
Pretty great. I’m not going to become one of these folks any time soon, but I still feel like I accomplished something, and learned a few things.
1. I can survive without a ton of new stuff!
2. I can mend things, and wear things out of season, and layer and accessorize in new and exciting ways.
3. I can deal with stress without spending.
4. It’s fun to see the bills going down, rather than feeling like we’re treading water.
5. I have so much to be grateful for, and am in such a privileged position to have the things I have and the opportunities that are available to me. This is such a big lesson, that I will continue to work on in the new year and beyond. Happy 2015!
Recently, I discovered that I have a bunion on my right foot. I’ve never been a high heels type of gal, excepting special occasions, but I do have a tendency to go barefoot or wear other kinds of cute, not-so-supportive shoes. In order to stay true to my resolve to buy nonewclothesin2014, I’ve been wearing sandals and flip flops, which are verboten at work. They might not be great for my feet, but they at least don’t seem to irritate the bunion. So far I haven’t encountered any major flak for it, but I’m a rules person firstly, and secondly I would hate to be injured at work and be caught failing to follow administrative codes.
It might come as no small surprise that I actually own quite a few pairs of shoes already. Unfortunately, almost all of them, especially the little flats I like to wear to work cut my foot right across the bunion and create a pain situation that is not going to serve me well to ignore. Sooo I purchased a pair of shoes today. They hit all the right notes in that they are cute, comfy, supportive, summery, and have a closed toe. I don’t exactly feel good about breaking my promise to myself, so I’m putting it out there that this is not to become a slippery slope, but a medically necessary expense that I will keep a handle on. Once the colder weather comes on, I should be able to make do with my trusty b.o.c. clogs and j-41 mary janes, both of which have a wide toe. So, it is what it is, I suppose. Feets are important.
It’s June, and things are going mostly well with the mission. Tiny unicorn pendants are unfortunately off limits, and I am noticing some legitimate wear and tear on my cardigans and shoes (omg shoes). I’m thinking about creating a list of items to replace (in 2015 of course) so that rather than slipping back into bad habits, I can be more practical and focused. I really like that I’m learning to be more mindful about purchases, as this was never intended to be a clothes diet, but a lifestyle change.
On the subject of lifestyle changes, my new-ish job in the mental health field is considerably less active than my previous job, and I’ve noticed that as summer approaches, my warm weather clothing is feeling a bit snug. Since I can’t run out and buy some bigger shorts, I’ve been wearing things that are more constricting than I’d like and facing some body image triggers. I really want to be successful, so I’m looking for ways to be creative with my summery outfits and avoid wearing the things that constantly remind me that there is a little more of me around the middle than I might like. Body love and acceptance is a continual challenge, and I don’t want to feel like I’m forcing myself into a certain size in order to be okay. I don’t have any solid answers right now, just something I’ve been ruminating on.
Meanwhile, I’m just working on practicing good self-care and working it out in a healthy way. Happy summer!
I saw this article on social media yesterday, which discusses the ways that body image issues can undermine even the most media-savvy anti-oppression advocates around. My experiences with anorexia and bulimia as a teen and young adult certainly had a big role in informing my feminism, and while it’s been years since I cracked open Fat is a Feminist Issue or The Beauty Myth, the messages have stayed with me. The interaction between thinness and femininity is an important one that serves to undermine political power, self-esteem, and action in the world. To put it more bluntly, the chronic caloric restriction that is necessary for many of us to be thin enough makes us dumber and less effective as individuals. Not to mention the very dangerous consequences that accompany a full-blown eating disorder, which has only become more prevalent since I was a starving girl in the eighties.
What does this have to do with clothes? Clothes and makeup and all of the other accoutrements of beauty can serve as a kind of armor to shield us from judgement, to make us feel good enough. And without all of that, we are exposed as something a lot more ordinary, and a lot more vulnerable. It would be amazing to feel beyond all of that, but this is not just a personal struggle, it’s a political one that effects all of us. Fat is still a feminist issue, guys.
I’m on a break from work for a few days, so here I am, catching up on No New Clothes for 2014. While I’ve been an intermittent blogger, I have managed to buy no new clothes! Or shoes! Or accessories! Part of this project is to make use of this writing to explore how I’ve managed to develop the habit of collecting credit card debt and overspending, and to hopefully transform that behavior into something more useful.
It’s only been two months, but I already feel a shift in my attitude about buying. It has been challenging as spring is springing, the weather is warming up and I’m tempted by cute socks, dresses, and other springy things. Awhile back I had a delicious and soothing Mate latte with a friend. I wasn’t even thinking about new clothes when I spotted something that I needed (tiny skulls nestled between flowers!) Maybe it’s for teenagers, whatever. But I’m happy to say, I worked through it, and survived to tell the tale.
So far, I’ve learned that abstinence from purchasing new clothes hasn’t completely alleviated all of our financial woes. Nevertheless, things are looking up, and with a little time to reflect, I realize that I don’t need to self-soothe with stuff. I haven’t gotten to a place yet where I’m able to meditate away all of my stressors, but I have gotten a little better at self-care. And I’m trying to work out that all-or-nothing attitude that can be so self-sabotaging.
On an unrelated note – an opossum came to visit me this morning which is clearly a sign of an amazing season ahead. Cheers!
I spent some time last night with friends who make significantly more money than I do, both individually and as a couple. While they always seem to look just fine, with professional clothing as needed, cute jewelry, fancy workout shoes, etc., somehow they managed to spend combined less than 1/3 of what I laid out last year on clothing for myself. While my aim here is not to work myself up into a guilt-induced frenzy which consequently ends with my head in the sand and my credit card balance ballooning, wow, did I feel ridiculous.
We chatted about dieting as well, which reminded me that I also love to do some emotional eating along with my emotional over-spending. These two are super-organized, super-committed vegans, who apparently are able to steer clear of french fries and fudge frosting year in and year out. Ouch. How do I sign up for some of that sweet self-discipline? Also, they work out.
Onto the no new clothes thing. I was at the co-op buying my hair color, and found myself immediately drawn to the display of woolen delights. I tried on some alpaca gloves and briefly attempted to justify a purchase. Then it hit me: gloves are clothes. They are a no-no. An adorable, fair-trade, organic, free-range no-no. And then it occurred to me that I made a bee-line straight for the very limited offerings at the co-op that would even qualify as clothes. Nowhere is safe.
Now I feel like it’s time to get into one of those minor addenda that were mentioned earlier. Sometimes I really need to spend some major bank on bras. Bras are very complicated. They shouldn’t be, right? But for me, they are indeed. I have big boobs, which unfortunately are a source of no small amount of angst. Big boobs make my back hurt, make sleeping interesting, make it difficult to fit into tops and dresses, and have had a major influence on my way of thinking about my body. And truly, they are not that big. It’s more that the rest of me is relatively small. Clothes have never fit me the way I want them to. I don’t have one of those lovely hourglass shapes, but am more of an apple, with a little bottom half and a larger upper body.
I’m a big proponent of bodylove, and don’t want to give off the impression that I don’t appreciate that my body works pretty well for me most of the time. It does what I need it to, and it is lovely in its own way. That said, I have struggled like a lot of folks, with a lifetime of body image issues. I have worked hard to overcome disordered eating and damaging self-talk about my body. This journey is far from over, and something that definitely has had an impact on my desire to buy newer more flattering clothes in an attempt to prop up my self confidence. While satisfying on one level, it doesn’t even touch the root of the problem, something I endeavor to explore during this year of no new clothes.
So, back to bras. I have a nice collection right now, and I hope that they will carry me through the year. That said, if my back starts to act up as the elastic loses its oomph, I’m heading to the nearest department store and getting those things hiked back up where they belong. Loaded words, I know. Where do they really “belong” anyway? For me at this point in my life, they belong where I can move and jump around without killing my back. End of story.
If you are looking for tips on finding the proper bra – you will most probably look and feel better – here are some helpful links: