Don't Purge Your Closet Unless You're Prepared For Some Real Talk

by Rochelle Fritsch
Originally Published: 

One-third. I heard this on a daytime news show from a “ladies’ doctor” who works at one of the nation’s most respected hospitals. So it must be true. Knowing this, and knowing I’m living in some fraction of the dreaded third, you’d think the last thing I’d have done was purge my closet—the Multi-Decade Crypt of ’80s and ’90s Beloved Relics.

Which is the very thing that makes the one-third statistic problematic.

My Body Won’t Stop Changing

I figure I’m in the first third of menopause, which means I’m in perimenopause. My body’s doing weird things. Stuff is shifting. Things are flattening out and increasing and decreasing in unpredictable zones at will. The Culling of the Jeans made that apparent: Some were the “skinny” size and some were “ah, what the heck, I’m just expanding” size.

I remember buying the skinny sizes quite well. From the fitting room clerk bringing smaller sizes and high-fiving with me when I realized the size I needed wasn’t as big as I originally guestimated, to the sticker shock I felt when the cashier announced the total. It’s all a movie looping in my brain along with the secret vow:

These jeans are way too expensive to outgrow/outfat, I thought.

But yet, there I was, someplace in the first or second third of the third of menopause deciding whether or not it was time to chuck the jeans.

Or in truth, whether to chuck the dream of fitting back into them.

So lump in throat, I put them in the giveaway pile.

I’m Not That Girl—or a Girl—Anymore

Disgusted with the jeans situation, I turned to the pile of novelty shirts collected throughout the years, like the pink Harley-Davidson tank that looked amazing against my skin tone and clung in all the right places 10 years ago. Somehow, time was an inept plastic surgeon and filled in those right places in all the wrong ways.

Another contribution to the giveaway pile, another sigh, another throat lump.

© Courtesy Rochelle Fritsch

Then it was onto my favorite and best-fitting concert T-shirt.

It still fit my body. But the spirit of the thing wasn’t a fit: “I Heart This Bar.” Great song for a Toby Keith concert, but really, I’m not wearing it to work, or church, or a PTA meeting.

Another giveaway pile donation.

Breaking this depressing monotony was a cheery, “Wow, that’s a big giveaway pile! Good job, honey. Now don’t you feel great?”

It was my husband. Tears clouded my vision, preventing me from heaving at him the sexy pump I was about to toss into the pile of broken dreams.

Men Don’t Understand

According to the Wii Fit, my husband hasn’t gained or lost weight in five years. Five years. He still fits into clothes from the era when A Flock of Seagulls was running so far away from stuff they couldn’t get away from. He’s gotten some gray hairs, yes, but his hypothalamus doesn’t leave him abandoned for words in mid-sentence because of a hot flash’s sudden onslaught. His waistline hasn’t gotten out ahead of him.

He certainly wasn’t chucking what he used to be, or used to aspire to be into a giveaway pile.

I explained that this whole thing basically sucked and that I wasn’t very happy or cleansed or freed by it. He understood, but didn’t know what to say, and then proved that it’s better to say nothing at all when you don’t know what to say. “Well…do you think you’ll ever fit into those clothes again?” he asked.

I just looked at him, one blink away from a perimenopausal breakdown or tantrum. He got my drift and mumbled something as he ambled away out of sexy-pump-heaving distance.

And me? No, there was no grand revelation about being at home in my own skin. I’m hoping it’ll come somewhere in the final two-thirds of the one-third of the menopause that all women go through.

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