I have a stack of articles written about Marie Kondo, and I’m going to share them with you because I find the conversation about her method of tidying up so interesting. I see a lot of genuine surprise in how well her method works and delight in a life of living with fewer things that truly “spark joy.”
In The life changing magic of tidying up: How this 1 tip changed everything on Today.com, MIna Hart Duerson talks about feeling like she needs permission to get rid of things. I see that in action with so many of my clients. Recently, I worked on the walk-in closet of a woman around my age (that would be early 30's thank you very much!). As we were going through her wardrobe, she would occasionally say about a particular item “I don’t feel super comfortable in that, but I keep it for dating because I know guys like stuff like that.”
This woman happens to be very pretty and slim, has a well developed personal style, and always looks fashion forward and polished when I see her out and about. In fact, I loved working with her wardrobe because we have some similar style points of view and she gave me great ideas about how to pair things! So, that comment kind of broke my heart.
I always think back to something my mom told me at a very young age: if you're uncomfortable with your clothes, you will "futz with" them, and whatever you "futz with" will draw people’s attention. (I'm unsure of the origin of the mysterious verb "to futz with" but the general meaning is rather onomatopoetic: to mess around with.) Think of a girl tugging down a too-short skirt or a guy fiddling with a too-loose belt. You aren’t looking at that person’s face or the sum total of their presentation, you’re staring at the constant movement near the thing that makes them uncomfortable.
I encouraged my client to think not about what she believes guys want to see, but about what makes her feel great. Sure, one can make sweeping statements that "guys like short skirts" or "guys like cleavage," but it has been my humble observation that men are drawn to women who are comfortable in their own skin and style. If showing cleavage makes you cringe, your discomfort will telegraph loud and clear. I was able to give her a good reason to not hold onto pieces that made her feel uncomfortable, and the permission to actively get rid of them. She ended up putting most of those items in the donation pile, and I think her wardrobe is all the better for it!
Many of us are holding onto things for complex reasons that ultimately don’t help us feel great about ourselves. What could you free yourself from if you gave yourself permission?