Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Clothing for Africa

Anyone that know me knows how much I love buying things in charity shops. That's pretty much the only place I shop - and my poor one bar wardrobe is literally bending under the weight of charity shop finds.

Over the course of this year, I've really noticed the way my relationship with clothing shapes a lot of what I put my energy into - here's some observations
I feel permanantly scruffy.
I often feel out of date, unfashionable and downright frumpy.
I shop to make myself feel better - and I kid myself because it's only a charity shop buy, therefore it's ok -
but actually I spend more money than we have budgeted on charity shop clothing, feel guilty while shopping, and still end up feeling scruffy...

There's something going on here to my relationship with stuff - check out this blogpost I found looking at one woman's analysis of her own relationship to buying things

I tried, with not much success to give up charity shopping for lent - but failed, fairly miserably.I've been thinking and talking about this issue for a little while - my lovely lulastic friend did an even mroe radical project: wore only two sets of clothes for 6 months - basically, to break the link between self esteem and image. I am a self declared feminist - and I think it's pretty interesting how much pressure (and money) rests on how women look: you are what you look like, goes the message, over and over again - and even the most liberated of us find it hard not to internalise this on some fundamental level. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy clothing as a way of expressing myself, love colour and have no qualms about dressing to look nice - but how quickly this flips over from a healthy into an unhealthy connection, for me anyway.

So I decided it's time for something drastic: re-learn my habits for making myself feel better.

I have a grand goal, one that I've held for ages - to go to Africa. We really hope to make this happen in about a years time, and we need to save save save - so I'm giving up buying clothing, and going to Africa.

So: as of today, 19th October 2010 - until we go to Africa - I am buying no more clothes.

Here are my parameters: underwear and socks/tights - allowed
New running shoes - if I need them - (old pair falling apart)
Jewelery - only when we go on a holiday planned in March to a country that has amazing jewlery but i don't want to give too much away ;-)
1 pair of ethically made new black trousers - allowed (this helps with mixing and match existing clothing hugely)

Anything I can make myself, with existing materials (until they are all used up) - allowed (buttons zips and threads for making allowed)

So the plan is to do this mindfully- to not use buying clothes as a pick me up, though I scoot past the charity shops every day on my way to work- they are not my emotional crutch anymore.I will find other, more healthy ways of recognising and dealing with self esteem and negative feelings.

Blogging about it is one way of making myself accountable - and I will post some of my makings too...

What do you think? How's your relationship to clothes?


  1. Hey Amanda,

    wow that's massive! Are you allowed to come to my house and use up my exisiting materials on clothes for yourself? (I have lots) We are having MAKE next Sunday... hehe.
    Just kidding, I don't mean to suggest you compromise at this early stage. I think setting challenges for yourself like this are always awesome. Think about all the extra time you will have to reflect on some of those complex links to mention above too.
    (although don't hope that the effects will be forever lasting- my challenge was 7 years ago and I am even more of a charity shop fiend than I was then!!How rubbish am i! Perhaps it's time for a new one...)

  2. Haha - yes indeed! I don't think it will be foreverlasting- I am too much of a treasure hunter to ever give up charity shops entirely!!

    How's all the preparation for baby going? xxx


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