Let It Go

Just Get Rid Of That Ill-Fitting Dress Already

A closet clean-out of the "perfect" dress made a real difference to my journey of body acceptance.

Written by Natasha McKee
Originally Published: 
Young cheerful woman standing in front of hanger rack and choose outfit dressing
LordHenriVoton/E+/Getty Images

Even after 14 years and two children, I just couldn’t bring myself to let go of the white lace eyelet dress I wore to my high school graduation. You know that perfect dress? The one that lays perfectly where it should, at just the right length to show off your legs without making you self-conscious? Something about the cut and fit of that dress gave me confidence and made me feel beautiful. Or at least it did when I originally wore it. After a decade and a half, though, my body had changed, and the dress didn’t make me feel confident anymore. Seeing it in my closet day after day left me feeling down and disappointed that my body wasn’t as small and in-shape as it had been.

It wasn’t just that white dress, either. I kept old clothes without the same sentimental value, and I kept new clothes I bought that didn’t have quite the same appeal once I got them home. As hard as I tried to find another little white dress, I never could. But instead of returning the items that weren’t quite right, or tossing clothes that didn’t work for my body anymore in the donation bin, I tried to change my body to fit the outfit, setting aside my ongoing quest for body acceptance. Guess what? This strategy has never worked, not even once.

My journey to body acceptance always seemed to take two steps back before I moved forward. Id quickly hang the new item that I didn't even like that much in my closet and swear to myself that this very instant I would hit that diet hard. I kept that white dress.

Why was I still holding on to a dress and buying new clothes that were never going to fit me the way I wanted? Why was I holding on so tight, when all it was doing was making me miserable?

Body Acceptance Is A Journey

When I decided to hold onto my old clothes, it was because I wanted to “motivate” myself to work out harder. I convinced myself that if I just felt enough shame and disappointment, the rest would be simple. But instead of getting in shape again, all it really did was hold me back from accepting my body — and it was absolutely crucial for me to get to a place of acceptance.

My journey to body acceptance didn't begin because it was trendy. It was one of the final pieces to fully recovering from an eating disorder that I had lived with for many years. In the thick of it, I equated overexercising and under-eating with strength and dedication.

In my mind at the time, my body was only worthy of acceptance, love, and adoration after I'd crafted it to look a certain way, regardless of the physical and emotional pain that brought. Accepting my body even when it wasn't perfect (which it never was, because no body is) has been one of the greatest challenges of my life. But it's also been worth every moment of struggle.

The Smallest Action Has Created Greatest Change For Me

I remember the day I let go of that too-small white dress. The relief didn't just come from physically tossing it into a box for donation — it's come every single day that I open my closet and don't see it there.

Letting go of my too-small clothing also helped me let go of the negative, never-ending judgment and pressure I put on myself. And can I just tell you how much joy it brings me to wear clothes that actually fit? There is nothing more uncomfortable than a pair of ill-fitting jeans.

I'm not just talking about the physical pain that comes with feeling restricted or the waistband digging into your stomach. I'm talking about the uncomfortable feeling that comes with focusing more on what you think people think of you instead of enjoying the moments you're living.

At the end of the day, no one is going to care what size the dress was that you wore. They won't remember the outfit you wore that wasn't flattering for your body shape, whatever the hell that means. They're going to remember the time they spent with you, the laughs you shared, and the moments that matter.

So friends, here's your reminder to let go of what isn't serving you. Especially when it comes in the form of clothing that, honestly, you didn't even really love to begin with.

This article was originally published on