What REALLY happened when I gave up my skinny jeans


Yesterday morning I took a trunkful of stuff to Goodwill. Some kitchen items, a set of glasses we don’t use anymore. A few of my husband’s old t-shirts. A bag of clothes out of my closet, too.

Specifically, skinny jeans.

Jeans that don’t fit me anymore.

Several pairs of jeans (and some really cute cords too) that sat on a shelf since last winter. They were snug then, but I hung on to them. Because I was determined that they’d fit again.

They don’t.

And I feel…free.

I thought for sure I’d be devastated. I had worked so hard to fit into those jeans. To be that size.

More specifically, to know I had the willpower and control to be that size. That I could manipulate my body when life felt so completely out of my hands. For a long time, I told myself that I didn’t care about being thin. It was a byproduct of being “healthy,” which was my main “goal.” In reality, it was a symbol of my perceived worthiness. And yes, of thin privilege. It wasn’t entirely about the weight or size…but it also was.

What did I think the size would prove?

In my competition with myself to stay under a certain weight, within the constraints of a certain size, I was determined to prove that I was worthy.

To who? I haven’t quite figured that out yet. To myself, mostly, and the standards I set for myself based on the standards we’re given as women.

It didn’t make me feel any more worthy. In fact, it made me feel even less.
Somewhere, deep inside, I knew that it wasn’t me. For obvious reasons, in part: I am not a size. I am not a pair of skinny jeans.

I also recognized what wearing those jeans was doing to my body. To my life.

I could look in the mirror and give “approval” to the reflection. But I didn’t know the woman who was looking back at me. This was a woman whose life was consumed by food and exercise. Who was terrified of eating foods that weren’t “healthy” enough, that weren’t somehow virtuous. Who chose exercise over rest, over hobbies…over the people she loved. Who avoided social situations because food might be involved, or because it might involve a late night. And late nights interfered with a binge on “safe” foods and the subsequent penance workout the next morning.

Being that woman scared me far more than it ever thrilled me.

While I know not all women will agree – and some will think I’m completely full of it – fitting into a certain size does NOT change the way you feel about your body if you’re destroying yourself to achieve it. It does not change your career. It does not change your relationships. It does not change your intelligence. It does not change your attractiveness. It does not change your worthiness.

It may change the way you are perceived. Yes. Size means something because that is the world we live in – and that is a sad reflection on the world. Not on you. You and your body are not responsible for that.

You do, however, have a responsibility to yourself.

And it’s likely that the harshest critic you’ll ever face is you.

The only one who needs to know your pant size is you. And once you’re okay with it – at the very least, neutral (because you have to start somewhere) – you’ve got nothing to prove.

It’s a slippery slope, I used to tell myself. Once you let go of this, how can you say you have any kind of discipline? Dedication?


That is the diet mentality. That is a brain in so deep that somehow, your worth hinges on your thighs fitting into a sheath of fabric.

Please believe you are worth more than that.


So that’s what happened when I finally give up my skinny jeans.

It feels like coming home to myself. Forcing, berating, exhausting myself into those jeans had taken over my life.

And so I let them go. They are free to clothe another body – which is their sole purpose – and I am free to pursue mine.

I know it’s scary. It can be terrifying, in fact, to even consider letting go of that control and – perhaps – those skinny jeans.

I can tell you that it’s worth it. Life tastes so much better than skinny feels.

This entry was posted in Body Positivity, Re(dis)covery. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to What REALLY happened when I gave up my skinny jeans

  1. Jeanne Quinn Lowing says:

    Kate, Very powerful. Thank you so much – I really needed this today. I have been saying to myself “you are not a number” since yesterday, but I have not been believing it. I have slipped into some old ED habits and the result showed up on the scale…not a surprise if I am being logical. Unfortunately, have not quite gotten there. I have the support of my treatment team, and I know that there are lessons in here…just grateful for your words and heartfelt message above.

    • Kate Summers says:

      I’m glad it reached you when it did. The truth is that those reminders won’t always make us feel better in the moment. But it’s important to do it anyway, because that’s what starts the shift. Over time, we can catch ourselves before we even go there. I am PROUD of you, gorgeous friend!

  2. I read EVERY word…on the edge of my seat! So EMPOWERING!!! YES!!!! Ah, love you! Ripple effect…big time!

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