When I started my journey towards minimalism last Summer, I had a few expectations of what would happen. I figured that we’d have less clutter around our 400-square foot studio apartment. And because we had less clutter, we would have more time to do the things we wanted because less time would be spent on cleaning or organizing said clutter, and there’d be less arguments over said clutter. I hoped that my shopping habits would be more mindful. I wondered if now would be the time in my life when I could finally have a cohesive wardrobe that accurately represented my personal style. I achieved all of that, but little did I know that I would gain some confidence, decrease a bit of my anxiety, and find some body positivity along the way too.
For as long as I can remember, I hated my body. Hated is actually a mild word for how I’ve felt all my life. It’s more like I’ve always loathed, resented, and despised my body. When I was a pre-pubescent kid, I resented that I was too short and hated my petite frame because it prevented me from being better at soccer and other team sports (or so I thought). I loathed my thick, mind-of-its-own hair and longed for long, flowy, princess hair. After I stopped growing in middle school and was stuck with my 5’2″ height for the rest of my life, I started hating other things that I could maybe control. My first period came, and along with it, boobs, hips, thighs–all of which were always too big. I don’t think I was ever a size 0 or a size extra small, or even a small, even as a child. And I hated it. Middle school was hell because that was the first time we had to change in the locker room with other girls. I always found a way to change in the bathroom stall for fear someone would see my belly and my thunder thighs, or worse they’d see the size of my clothes. It didn’t help that most of my friends were all stick-thin like most Asian girls are (or are supposed to be). (Though now that I’m older, I’m sure that they too were also fighting inner demons and insecurities of their own.) It also didn’t help that because Asian girls are supposed to be thin, that my parents constantly carped at my weight every chance they could get. Sadly, not much has changed since middle school.
I still long for hair that obeys the command of hair spray and hot styling tools. I still wish that I had smaller boobs because I think clothes just look better with smaller boobs. I’ve wished for a flatter stomach and thighs that don’t touch for every birthday and on every dandelion of my life. I’ve made peace with my height, and sometimes enjoy being shorter (which is good because I despise heels). I’ve also made peace that I’m just not athletic and will never ever be an Olympian athlete, or even someone who can run a 10-minute mile. I still have days where I can’t look at myself in the mirror because I don’t want to face the reality of what I see. I still can’t go near a scale without my palms instantly getting sweaty and my heart beating 100 miles per minute. Trying on jeans remains one of my least favorite tasks in the entire world. I still don’t fully accept my body for what it is. But I’m getting a little closer with each passing day.
Just like with shopping, I’m trying to become more mindful of my triggers when it comes to food, especially junk food (chips are my biggest weakness) and fast food. Just like with shopping, I use food as an escape–a temporary bandaid–to forget my problems. I tell myself I deserve it because I work hard, but what my body actually deserves is nutrients to nourish it so that I can continue to work hard. I’m also trying to develop a more healthy relationship with working out, not because I want to change my body, but because I want to love it and it’s good for me–physically and mentally. I feel stronger when I work out. I am less anxious when I work out. I just feel damn good when I work out. I work out because I want to love my body, not because I hate it.
I’ve talked about how just the simple act of decluttering has helped me increase my confidence in previous posts, especially with letting go of all my “just-in-case-I-lose-weight” clothes. In letting go of the clothes that don’t fit or flatter my body, I am one step closer to accepting and loving the body I have, rather than holding on to an idea of what it should be. Getting dressed is less stressful not only because I have less choices, but also because I know for sure that everything fits. No more sweating trying to put on a pair of pants that don’t fit, or getting my arms stuck in a top that doesn’t fit anymore. No more body shaming because something doesn’t go over my hips that used to. Everything now fits, and fits me well. Now the only things I need to worry about when getting dressed are my mood, the weather, and the events of that particular day.
Letting go of these clothes was huge for me. I held onto those clothes because 1) I had spent so much money on them, and 2) letting them go meant I will most likely never be that size again–and to me that meant I have failed miserably, and have pitifully settled for the body that I had. It took many months of me wearing clothes that fit well to finally accept that I actually can look cute with the body that I have and with clothes that I love and make me feel confident. Holding onto clothes that made me feel otherwise seemed silly and unnecessary, so they had to go. And they did (hopefully to better homes).
Decluttering was the biggest step towards minimalism, but I think the harder part of this journey towards minimalism is maintaining that intentionality, and not reverting back to old habits after the clutter is gone. The hard work needs to be done now–when I’m craving fries after a horrible day at work; when I want the adrenaline rush and satisfaction of finding something on sale; when I haven’t been to the gym in weeks; when I impulse buy something that I didn’t need, even if it was from an ethical brand; when I still cave into fast fashion; when I need to face my problems rather than eat or shop them away; when I’m loathing myself for not being enough. I’ve talked about this before but self-care is not always pretty. I’m starting to think that it’s the ugly-kind-of-self-care that yields the prettiest results.
Having a smaller wardrobe has also helped me be more body conscious, and not in the bad way. Having only two pairs of black jeans now makes me more aware of how they fit and the changes in my body. When they fit a little snugger than before, that is my cue to put away the snacks, and be more mindful with what I’m consuming and more intentional with my time (a couple less reruns of Friends episodes on Netflix or vent session with my teammates for a couple more hours at the gym). In asking the why when I’m buy clothes also makes me stop and wonder if eating too many fries or chips or watching too much Netflix is really a good reason to buy more clothes. I love my clothes now, and so now I want to be able to continue to wear them with the body that I’m growing to love.
Since starting to be more body positive, I’ve noticed that my shopping habits have changed too. If I order something online and it doesn’t fit well, I return it right away rather than keeping it in hopes that someday all my wishes will come true, and it’ll fit me just right. I’m also trying to shift my focus less on the size label on the clothes, and more on how it fits on my body (and ultimately, if I like it and will wear it). If age is just a number, so is the size of your clothes. Shopping ethically is a huge privilege that I’m so lucky to be able to do, and I think because ethical clothes are more expensive, I am more intentional about what I choose to buy and with what I choose to keep. There are now so many brands that are being more inclusive with their sizes by extending their range, which adds another reason why I should not let clothes bully me into feeling ashamed about myself. Rather, I should learn to work with the clothes that I do have, and with the body to have.
Every day remains a constant battle for me to think positive thoughts about my body. In the last few months, there were a lot of days that I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. It’s 100% ironic that despite that, I post photos of myself here on my blog and on my Instagram. And as harmful as social media can be sometimes to my self-image, it also has been incredibly supportive because I know that many of you are on a similar journey. We are all in this together!
This outfit is a looong time coming. I NEVER thought I’d be comfortable showing my stomach (even a sliver of it). I do everything I can to cover it up. I haven’t worn a bathing suit to the beach or dipped more than my feet into a body of water in years. So the fact that I’m here, with an outfit that I condemned could only be worn by thin babes is saying a lot. I remember years ago when it was even a milestone that I wore a sleeveless top, and now here we are. I have been chasing minimalism this past year, and unexpectedly, I gained some body positivity along the way. My body is not perfect, but it is beautiful in its own way. (AND SO IS YOURS).
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everlane silk short-sleeve square shirt (currently on sale!), muji modal cotton wide pants,
dolce vita espadrille mules, celine rounded cat eye sunglasses, mansur gavriel mini bucket bag (thrifted via ebay)
Nobody tells you
it is okay to call yourself beautiful
it is okay to smile at mirrors
and it is perfectly fine
to say your own eyes are pretty
it is wonderful to love your waist
and your legs
regardless of their size
and you are not conceited
if you use your fingers to list
everything you’re good at
rather than point
at all your own flaws
you can acknowledge you’re smart
and that you will go places
and you will be someone
greater than your mistakes
you can’t always expect
other people to believe in yourself