Edith Zimmerman is Throwing Everything Out

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Edith's apartment before the purge
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When I got an email back in July from my friend Edith Zimmerman, telling me she was "going through a phase" and whittling down her beauty products, wardrobe, and even apartment furniture to the essentials, I was intrigued. Was she adopting some part of the Nineties-minimalist mentality that's so big right now? (No.) So many people talk about "living minimally," but what does that actually look like? And how the hell do you do it? (Admittedly, I hold onto things: magazines, cab receipts, those extra buttons and pieces of strings that come with new sweaters or pants...) I pressed her for details—an explanation. She remained relatively vague, and quiet, but after a few months of chucking things out ("I don't know how I keep having things to throw away, but I do," she wrote in an update), she finally opened up. Here's her story. 

—Nick Axelrod

This summer I’ve been throwing everything out. Or, trying to. Makeup and shower products, whatever there is under my sink—trying to get rid of as much as possible. I have this vision of myself with, like, one body-cleaning product, one outfit, one pair of shoes, one bag, and a perma-smile of ULTRA SERENITY. Haha. Very attainable!!

I’m also throwing out most of my clothes and most of my shoes—it’s been happening in rounds for the past couple years. I’ll throw out some clothes, and then some shoes, and then I’ll realize that I wanted to, and need to, throw out more clothes—'I can be bold and throw even that stuff out'—and then I do the same thing with the shoes. I’m donating them—not actually throwing them out—although I feel guilty about the gross stuff, the armpit-stained stuff. (At one point, I did actually throw some of it out, in the trash, but that is maybe another 'story.')

So now I don't have many clothes anymore. Part of the throwing-out phase started when I’d lost some weight and felt all skinny, and everything looks great on 'skinny you,' so I threw out all the clothes I’d worn and not really liked when I was heavier, but then obviously I gained it all back, and now I have no clothes except the gross rags that felt and looked so FREE-SPIRITED when I was skinny, but don’t now...although, oh well.

I’m also anti-clothes in general, at the moment. I think it's part laziness, part self-imposed isolation (I left my full-time job at The Hairpin in June to work freelance), and part indulging in isolated behavior. Whatever the reason, my recent inclination is convenient, since I almost never leave my apartment. Except to throw things out. I sort of feel like the yogurt bacteria of my apartment. Like, if my apartment were a woman, and she is fed by the stuff that goes into her—packages, mail, groceries—and she expels stuff when the trash and recycling goes out, then I would be the helper bacteria, aiding her in digestion and stuff. Helping to move things through her system. The stairwell would be the intestines. The front door would be both her butt hole and her mouth. I think that’s how starfish do it, too. And when I go on the roof to smoke, that’s her brain, because I stare into the distance and come up with a million amazing ideas every day. Ideas that I then write down, like “Email Sachar” or “Do something about dot corn”—which actually IS an amazing idea, but I’m not sure what to do with it. But basically it involves making a site that ends with '.corn' instead of '.com.' It would probably be more irritating than amusing, but who knows. Or I could start corn dot com, which, as of now, is semi-available, for a price.

Anyway, I threw another round of shoes out last weekend—I think I’m down to the bare bones now. Initially, the goal was to get down to the purest, barest “necessities”—the expensive, durable, and attractive things I like, although those turn out to be mostly just the clothes I wore in middle school—and build back up from there. Except I refuse to buy more clothes while I feel kind of big. Also, it’s too hot to try clothes on, and I hate shopping. Also, I have realized that bras are fucking horrible, and I haven’t worn a 'real' one in a few months. 'Real,' in this case, meaning underwire, I guess. I’ve been going with old, soft sports bras mostly. I wish I were one of those sylph-y women who are like, “Oh, I forgot a bra, lol.” I want nothing more than to forget bras and not have it be, like, some wobbly, swingy situation, but that won’t really work. But also fuck thaaaat. I’m about three steps away from re-visiting the Dr. Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar site, where Mrs. Bragg goes on about how apple cider vinegar fixes everything, but she’s also only ever worn a “bralette” because underwire bras are evil, or something, although it’s all ridiculous. All of it! But it’s all great, too. God bless.

But as far as throwing things out goes, I'm down to almost zero products in the shower, and really feel good about where I’m at with that: one shampoo, one conditioner, and Dr. Bronner’s for everything else. I make an olive-oil-and-brown-sugar scrub if I ever feel like spending more time in the shower. I could go without shampoo, probably, based on guides I’ve read online, but I don’t feel like doing that just yet. And then I've got one lipstick (Laura Mercier), one mascara (Maybelline Colossal Volum' Express), and one eyelash curler (not sure). Three eyeliners, admittedly, but they’re all basically the same, so I see no need to throw two out, except one is “organic” I think, which I bought on a whim when I was feeling sanctimonious about a new website I’d found, but it’s kind of weird. One multi-purpose spray for when I want to do things with my hair, which is almost never. One natural (glorious) deodorant (Soapwalla). One moisturizing body oil, one moisturizing face oil. I guess that’s starting to seem like a lot again, but it doesn’t feel like it—yet. Because that’s really all I use. Plus a bunch of lip balms. But they’re all the same brand. I bought them to give away as presents but then I just kept them all :-/

And then clothes, yeah. I have about 10 dresses, nine of which I never wear, eight of which I don’t wear because I’m currently too big for them—and then a bunch of sweatshirts. That's basically it.

I just want to eventually be able to explain to someone that the reason I can’t make it to [whatever event] is because "I have no clothes." Because I'll literally have no clothing at all.

—Edith Zimmerman

Edith Zimmerman is a writer based in Brooklyn, New York. You can read her other ITG stories here (A Skin Thing) and here (The Edith Zimmerman Diet). 

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Eva

    I can not put into words how much I cherish this!

  • grey_grey

    that analogy where her apartment is a woman and she is the helper bacteria is priceless.

  • Sara

    That's what I'm talking about. I've been purging stuff all summer and it feels great.

  • dominique

    I don't get the whole minimalist thing. Or the let's-throw-away-stuff-we-had-bought-for-our-hard-earned-money attitude. Whatever you call it. Nobody can really "purge" himself/herself by getting rid of clothes, cosmetics, furniture, etc. It's not about stuff one owns, it's just that the stuff owns US. Everyday, we go without realizing how much attention, time and money our possessions require (thinking which things to buy, then buying them, storing and USING them, and finally replacing them with more updated items). One gets stressed without noticing. No wonder that obsessive disposal replaces obsessive hoarding...

    From my experience, those people end up buying the same stuff they had thrown away (sooner or later). Also, the quest for "expensive, durable, bare necessities" is basically doomed for failure. One should firstly clear up what necessities are... (Btw, who on earth would call a mascara a "bare necessity"? Hello, first-world problems.) Sticking with certain products or clothes requires real determination - it's easy for a while, but can you really resist the temptation to try and buy those new, better, more "modern" items you saw in magazines, blogs, at your friend's place?

    Don't get me wrong, I like simple living. But too much importance is placed on getting rid of stuff. It's the mind that it's cluttered, not one's house or flat.

    • lucinda veen

      I agree. I also think there's a certain kind of elitism in throwing everything away--it's a choice born of privilege. "It doesn't matter that I spent lots of money on this stuff; I can always buy it back if I need it." I think it's great to live a minimalist life and avoid buying unnecessary products, but if you already HAVE those products, what's wrong with just wearing them or using them up and choosing not to buy more?

      • Edith Zimmerman

        That is a good point!

      • Alix

        I am addicted to giving things away! My husband says that soon we'll be sleeping on tatami mats on the floor, which is fine by me (in theory).

        Lucinda, I love your point about the "privilege" of even owning superfluous things to give "away" (which, if that's Goodwill, means your donated clothes are probably shipped by the ton on barges to Africa).

        Finally, did anyone else find it ironic that Into the Gloss still compulsively linked to 3 products in the "Get the Products" section at the bottom of the post?

        • sarah

          THAT"S a good point. Throw everything out, and get these three things to be very minimal with. mmm, maybe not?

    • Coco

      I think what would be better is to SELL those things that you feel like you don't need, instead of throwing them out. You make money back, someone else will get use out of the item, and you didn't waste anything.

      I've been on a somewhat minimalist kick lately, but I've mostly given away things. Being surrounded by less stuff (although the best that I can afford) and knowing I make the most of what I have helps my mind clear up immensely.

      • icole

        Absolutely Coco! There are so many buy/sell/trades everywhere now. Everybody wins!

    • eastvillagesiren

      Perfectly said. Thank you.

  • Francoise Hovivian

    My favorite post in years!

  • K

    What's truly sad about this is that it is so identifiable and yet looking at her photos, you see she is incredibly slim and it is only by the disgusting standards for complete emaciation, which have been set (somehow) universally it seems, that she can call herself "big" and have nothing to wear. (Please ignore the run-on)

    • Twenties Collective

      Hear, hear.

  • Murr

    This is my favorite post on this site ever

  • Kristien

    I really enjoyed reading this post - mostly because I can somewhat relate to her in that I also enjoy the feeling of "purging" my belongings. I got engaged this year, and when I realized that meant moving in with my fiance soon, I HAD to get rid of some stuff, because there's no way I wanted him to know how much crap (mostly clothes) I actually have. And it's been liberating. I cut down my wardrobe quite a bit, mostly consigning it to earn a little extra cash. And while I agree somewhat with dominique above (is mascara a "bare necessity?" No, but it's a basic product that makes me feel 200% better when I wear it), I also feel like a cluttered living space can lead to a cluttered mind (at least for me). I have no desire to be "minimalist," but I do LOVE the idea of having everything you own - clothes, shoes, beauty products, house stuff - be your favorite. Surround yourself with only the things you absolutely love and ditch the rest. Great post!

  • blushingincolor

    I could never do this, clothes and makeup, creating a look brings me such joy!

    http://www.blushingincolor.com

  • EMR

    Edith, do not complain about your weight. Seriously you are fucking slim.

  • Blair Taylor

    She's somewhat bananas.... but I love it! Here's to the purge!

  • Jane S.

    I spent four weeks in Paris this summer, living with 40 pounds of clothes, shoes, bags, accessories, etc., with a rack for my clothes and an empty shelf. I could see everything, I was much more creative with how I put things together and I honestly loved everything I'd brought along. That's not to say I added another 15 pounds of stuff thanks to City Pharma and the amazing Soldes in July, but I really did appreciate living with a whole lot less. Time to purge my closet again!

  • Kat

    This was hilarious. Excellent placement of the word "butthole."

    • BPlease

      I kind of love that you highlighted it -- I have issues (calling all Freudians) and tend to full-body heave when I hear or read 'butthole,' 'butt hole' or, possibly, 'but, there's a hole.' I admire your approach, though, Edith.

  • Jada

    I love this so much. This is exactly where I am at - also trying to figure out how to make cleaning products with Dr. Bronners, or get down to using only one or two products.
    I am not depressed. Quite the opposite.

  • isilnoir

    She thinks she is big, and I think the depressive side of the story is this. I hope she reads this because she is not. She looks really fit and slim. I know it may sound offensive but really, I think these people who are obsessed with being skinny should see some psychiatrist. I really liked the idea and I enjoyed reading this, really good post, but it's really sad that she thinks that she is fat. I'm 69 kilograms and 1 meter 70 cms. So in your standard, does that make me an obese person? Am I not supposed to wear the clothes I want because I'm not skinny (and also not fit or slim)? Well then, I may as well die.

    • softy

      i think you might be taking it too personally. i don't read that she called herself "fat" anywhere in the article - the most she did was imply that she is no longer skinny, which means she is still slim and/or thin. mainly her issue was that she couldn't fit into her clothes anymore because they were too small for her. she didn't say anything that would suggest that you are "not supposed to wear the clothes you want because you're not skinny and also not fit or slim."

    • rosieposer

      I remember seeing the photographs accompanying this article last year sometime - they may be a little dated. Regardless, you could relax a little.

  • nicolecontrol

    While this comes across as somewhat relatable and even admirable in some ways, I cannot shake the feeling that this writer is having some kind of breakdown.

  • Cat

    I started to downsize my life last
    year. When I don't have too much stuff my mind feels clearer and it just
    seems right for me. I love George Carlins skit about stuff and I
    recommend looking at it(search for, george carlin stuff, on youtube).
    Plus I feel that everything I buy now, whether it be makeup or clothes or
    anything, is well chosen and edited.

  • http://lydwebber.com/ Lydia Webber

    Have you ever read the Zero Waste Home blog? It's extreme and yes, privileged. But it caused me to question why I store so many extras of everything. Feeling guilt about purging because it's privileged is a dead end. Maybe our stuff does own us and the most practical way to move forward is to GET IT OUT. And then try and try again to buy thoughtfully. Maybe this chalks up to personality but there seems to be a pile of us that mentally feel better with less.

    • Colleen Oczkowski

      I love the ZWH blog. It is extreme but it helped me learn how to make changes to be less wasteful and take a step back from our culture of consumerism. Though this blog does make me want to buy stuff...

  • Nicole B.

    I agree with others saying she seems to be slightly depressed. Also - that Soapwalla deodorant is amazing!

  • Ava Azlin D’ Rossi

    i seriously hope you donated your clothes and shoes and stuff to GOODWILL rather than literally tossing them out in the bin! oh and kudos to you Edith for paring down your life to the bare minimum. sometimes that is all we need to learn how to appreciate our life better.

  • Rachel

    I call dibs on that mirror!

  • Hannah

    I am all in for having less stuff, but boy she seems seriously depressed. I was just sad when i read this. I have, or are, struggling with depression. And some times i don't want to leave my flat or talk to anyone. Also stuff that remind me of others can be hard to have or i sometimes dream about locking myself up and just be by myself. This seems more like this and less like some great 'lets be minimalistic and natural'. Off course it is lovely to have less if it makes you see yourself more, and wear less makeup and clothes because you feel beautiful anyway and think that you are enough just by yourself. But if you do it to controll your life, punish yourself because you feel fat and as an excuse to isolate yourself from the 'difficulties' of having to relate to other people, i would say i feel deeply sorry for you and hope that someone who care about you can give you some support.

  • Bonnie

    Edith, hi!

    I will cherish this story forever, for it's reference to yogurt bacteria.

    But also because I too have been getting rid of things, in waves but especially, especially all day today (and far into tonight, I plan). I too am less skinny than I was and unwilling to shop. I felt like I got rid of tons of clothes when skinny and went around all the time in one navy linen shirt, but somehow there are just clothes everywhere. Everywhere! I keep separating them into piles to donate, and give to my sister, and give to this or that other certain friend, then the piles recombine. Luckily, in my neighborhood, whatever I put outside is instantly found by someone who wants it very much, so I am putting everything outside, bag by bag.

    Bonnie (can you guess which Bonnie, of all possible Bonnies?)

    • Edith Zimmerman

      BONNIE!!!!!

  • Hanni

    I know. I went through a phase just like this one myself! Maybe I'm reading a little too much into this, but I think enjoying being alone with oneself and/or being weird is super, and it doesn't keep you from doing "normal" social things, like those that have been suggested by Zoe. I think of this kind of perception and behaviour as of a facet of one's personality that one can choose to explore because one gets some kind of enrichment out of it, while other facets/aspects can be brought out at other times or during other phases. I think it's great that this article seems to have led to some irritations and that it has been published in this context of topics that are quite often perceived as "superficial". Yay for complexity. About the body issue: I think nobody's in a position to tell others that they should be comfortable with their bodies, because they're "slim enough". Even if you're slim, you can feel like you're too heavy, like you're literally carrying to much weight around. And if a person feels most comfortable and at home in a skinny body, it might be the right thing for them.

  • Jackie @ Kleiden drew

    I'm in awe of this woman. My livelihood depends on the commerce of clothing & fashion but I admire her. And most notably, the dearth of shower gels, soaps, lotions in her bathroom gives me the vapors. (With shame I admit to owning over 20 lip glosses.) I don't know what I'd do without my addiction to beauty supplies. After having read this post, however, I just might be ok.

    http://www.kleidendrew.com

  • &OtherObjects

    When I was freelancing from home I really didn't need that many clothes either to be honest, I needed maybe 5 outfits total because I only went 'out' to be social. I miss being able to be so mixy-matchy.

  • Lisa B

    I'm torn on this one. I love the idea of minimalist living, but unnecessarily throwing away products or clothing that are still useful seems pretty wasteful. Rather than "purging", I say use up what you have, donate what you don't use (if it's just sitting around), then stop buying tons of useless products that claim to do x, y, and z. I can't tell you how many makeup removers I tried before I discovered that plain old olive oil worked the best! Being happy with what I have and not "needing" anything else is honestly a daily struggle for me and I'm sure many other young Americans.

  • Tai

    Lately, I've been getting rid of cosmetics - giving away bulging little Sephora bags of it to friends - well, mostly just one friend. The other night, after the fifth or sixth bag I've given to her in as many months, she asked, "How do you still have stuff to give me?" But I swear all the purging hasn't made a dent, and getting rid of things feels as good, if not better, than acquiring them.

    I don't know that I'll ever whittle my bathroom down to three products, but damn, I love this article.

  • kit

    in response to the part about guiltily throwing away stained clothes: if you live in nyc, there is cloth recycling: http://www.grownyc.org/clothing

    they use it to make insulation. probably other cities have similar programs, but I don't know. And they even take old shoes that are too worn to be donated elsewhere.

  • Katherine Clow

    Such an interesting perspective. Really not my style, but I do appreciate the minimalist attitude.

    http://www.hotchildinchicity.blogspot.com

  • Katherine

    I did definitely enjoy this post but please someone remind this beautiful woman she is not "big" The whole concept of living minimally is what I personally strive for and believe to be beneficial but by wasting products it is kind of pointless. There are wonderful videos on youtube by this young lady named RebeccaKelsey she posts about "living minimally" and she actually uses up all her products and recommends good things.

  • Sara

    Love this woman! Minimalism is my second name. My life is so much easier without all those unnecessary things.

  • MoseyM

    I've wanted to purge for a while, but was forced to unexpectedly when my cat got ringworm and I had to get rid of and/or wash every textile in the house. EVERY TEXTILE. I now have far fewer clothes and emptier walls, and I feel SO much better. My husband and I still have a mind-boggling amount of clothes, but honestly most people would consider our wardrobe very small.

    I'm not understanding the "she sounds depressed" complaints, though. She maybe sounds depressed, so... what, she shouldn't have writing published? She should pretend to be perkier? IF she is, or IF she's simply going through something, the truth is that that is part of her life, just like it's part of many peoples' lives, and she'll finish feeling that way when she's finished. Plenty of the "I search endlessly for lipstick and an it-bag" pieces published here also strike me as coming from a place of depression too, to be fair. It's just part of life.

    • Sue

      your last paragrah is spot on

  • Aurora

    A while ago I suppose I would have just shaken my head at this post, completely unable to fathom anything it said.
    But! As it happens, I just recently orchestrated a huge purge myself, and, as it happens, half of my stuff is currently sitting underneath the staircase waiting to be 'shipped', with a quarter already in place at my sister's.

    I have been collecting clothes, shoes, bags, cosmetics, furniture, antiques, magazines, pictures, jewellery, candles, vases -- heck, canvas and perfume bottles! -- over the past years and kept my place ready to be photographed by Elle Decoration (hah I wish! - but you get the idea: vases with flowers, candles, carefully arranged mags and linens and so on and so forth) which is definitely due to too much lifestyle blogs slash Instagram exposure, and in fact, became a huuuge pain in the ass - and to be honest, a burden! I've always been neat and organised and I cannot stand my place being a mess for too long, but this decoration thing got me paranoid and in the end I couldn't go to sleep without carefully rearranging my skincare bottles! Jesus Christ I realised, this was enough. Especially since I am not at all that type of person, I've always felt overwhelmed amidst too much stuff and easily labelled unnecessary things clutter. But I guess all the pretty bokeh-splattered instapics got me crazy whilst in truth I am all for all-white blood-splattered dexter-esque rooms (just kidding).

    Anyway, I got inspired by the whole five-piece-french-wardrobe idea, removed (almost) every decoration item from my place and gave them to my younger sister who recently moved to a new place and had to start from scratch. She didn't have to buy a thing and was thrilled because we basically have the same taste - score! I was so glad to see how happy she was about the stuff while I was just sick of it, so after the first clean-out I purged everything and only kept the stuff I needed or those very few things that have a deep sentimental value to me.
    Same with the clothes : I surprised her with two trunks and a bunch of winter coats I had collected over the years but never actually wore. Rest was donated to charity.

    Now I feel like I can breathe more freely and I finally don't have the compulsive need to rearrange or style my place. Since I gave my sister most of my bath products too, the shelves are not cluttered anymore (no medicine cabinet duh) and it's much easier too dust :)

    I simply kept the things I actually used and wore and thus realised what I had been missing the whole time (those infamous 'pull the wardrobe together' pieces) : pants - check, basic tees and jumpers - check, nice blazer - check, cocktail dress - check, wool coat - check, leather jacket - check, chic bag - check, skirt? ah, I need a damn skirt! and some nice collared shirts! I guess I never would have realised that without actually seeing what I own. How could I need three trench coats when I only ever wear the one that fits perfectly? What about huge bags full of - bags! (oh the irony) when I just need one or two for daytime and one for going out?
    Same goes for beauty products : perfect foundation, perfect powder, perfect cream eye shadow, perfect everyday lipstick, perfect lipstick for a night out, perfect mascara, perfect cream blush, perfect concealer, perfect eyebrow pen, eyelash curler and my all time favourite perfume. I use it up and get the exact same thing again without too much questioning. Same thing for hair / skin stuff (except I haven't found the perfect everything there yet, but I'm getting to it ;) - part of the process!).

    Ok ok, I'll admit lipsticks are my guilty pleasure and you can't really have enough of them! But except for that, I'm really sticking to my all-new routine and it makes life a lot easier. I guess you could apply this ... minimalist approach? to a lot of aspects and I'll keep on trying to minimise stuff as I go.

    The best thing is to know someone makes much better use of your things than you did, so I don't feel it was wasted money in the end :)

    Ahh I could go on about how it affects consumption/shopping/whateva but this comment is far too long anyway!

    Have a great day ladies!

  • Jolie

    Sniffle. RIP Fredo. (Please don't throw out the tarot cards, I will take them and cleanse them if you don't want them any longer!)

    • Edith Zimmerman

      Oh girl I would never. Ever. : )

      • jolie

        :)

        The rest of it, of course, I can totally get behind. It's your very own Uncluttering!! (I just reread The Uncluttering and aww was thinking of our Cali trip!)

  • bailey

    Yeah, I'm doing the minimalist thing, too! But its because I'm poor, and have no choice.

    3 eyeliners is still 2 and a half more than I own. I have one bottle of conditioner and one bottle of shampoo, which doubles as my body wash. Throwing out shoes? I own flip flops for summer and boots for winter - there is no in between. And this girl is slim, by far no where near "big" even by societies standards.

    I guess if you never have to worry about being able to afford the basics, then it can make you feel liberating and chic and new age to go with using the "bare minimum". But when you live that life because you have to, there is nothing glamorous about it, there is no ultra serenity.

  • Daria

    You write like your tough background gives you the right to judge her and her experiences. What I think is really going on here, is that this article is a temporary dumping ground for everything you're mad about and can't handle (yet). However I'm not diminishing how rough life (including yours) is, I just don't think what you wrote, truly had anything to do with this article, it's just what set you off.

  • pamb

    Weight issues aside (the photo above is current, I'm assuming. And so, I'm not seeing a huge weight problem), I hope she's not using Peppermint Dr. Bronner's for her ladyparts. Yowsa! Take about a wakeup in the morning.

  • epila

    I enjoyed reading this! I'm always trying to minimize and downsize- bring into my home only that which is useful or beautiful. I love to shop, so this can be hard- but it's an everyday endeavor!

  • magicmollys

    Strong positive feelings about this

  • Colleen Oczkowski

    I remember her from before and the concerning thing in this post about her and the other one about her that is not the norm on this site (kinda why I like it) is her talking about her weight in a negative way. I remember her discussing some crazy fruit only diet that she said was for her skin but I don't buy it. I think it was about her body image and wanting to lose weight or at least make sure she stayed skinny. I am constantly trying to get rid of stuff and admire/envy her minimalist goals but she kind of does sound a bit depressed. The admitting her self isolation, laziness, hating to try on clothes because she feels 'big' even though she clearly looks slim, describing herself as the bacteria... I just look at her and want to give her a hug. It comes off as if she's about to step into the bell jar.

  • Colleen Oczkowski

    Not to judge but I'm pretty sure most people who read this blog are living in first world countries and probably still have problems. To combine the two making it 'first world problems' sounds patronizing. Everybody has a story. This is just one small part of hers and why should she not be able to tell it even if someone doesn't consider her problem to be one?

    • Beks

      I absolutely agree Colleen. I believe that Edith is merely trying to de-clutter her life, which I see to be a very noble thing to do. I don't want to speak for her, but it seems that she is in a phase in her life where the materials she owns have come to overtake her life a bit and all she is trying to do is de-stress and de-clutter her life, and if she is doing it in a noble way (i.e. giving away her clothes not throwing away her clothes and being absolutely wasteful), then SO BE IT! Let her be, man. This is a stage that she is in currently, and just because she is letting go of the unnecessary things in her life now does not necessarily mean that in a couple months she is just going to frivolously buy everything back just because she can. And perhaps the journey in de-cluttering one's life is even more nobler than we think because it teaches us to let go of the unnecessary and brings us into a life in which greed and need for material things is not such a large portion of our day to day life. And while I absolutely respect and see where you are coming from SM, this is the world Edith is living in, and to belittle her attempt to declutter and focus on the things that matter more in life just because these issues may not seem to you as important as those going on in other people's lives who may indeed have in harder, is still not very cool. I totally agree, Colleen, everybody has a story, and we should respect it not belittle and look down on it.

  • katiechasm

    I have been doing this lately too, it feels nice when you get your tops/bags/nail polish/etc pared down to just quality things you like. I like to think it saves money, too, but I still haven't figured out the math (of like, one $200 Coach leather bag versus a series of plastic/fake leather H&M ones that wear out).

    I also recommend American Apparel stretch bras! I wear them whenever I can get away with it.

  • Kitty Catbiscuits

    We have recently moved house, heaps of stuff in storage as we are renovating. I don't feel 'weighed down' expensive possessions any more.. Normally I would die if the cats scratched up my expensive lounge, but I don't care what they do to my twenty dollar bean bags.... So in the process, I realize that an expensive lounge isn't a representation of me, my intelligence, social status or beliefs - it is just an expensive lounge that I get angry when the cats scratch up.. We have donated a lot of things too, as I really don't need three different woks or two coffee machines. Share the wealth!

  • sarahh

    okay genuis, but hurting my brain right now. Im going through a similar less extreme version of this because i bought a house with zero storage, and my wardrobe is really a cupboard, and it really looks amazing, curated and with less bullshit clothes, and my bathroom is oozing with product that I am slowly using and not replacing,( also because my renovation is killing my budget). it feels very buddhist, and I may just have to become WAy more extreme after reading this.

  • Suzanne

    I think it's bizarre how so many people are diagnosing Edith. Now she's OCD? How arrogant.

  • Alison

    Edith, way to show people what really "reinventing yourself" looks like. It's not a salon-Bloomingdales-Ikea trip smiley montage from the movies or a Pinterest board, it's this. Isn't life a whole lot of tolerating things you don't like or changing them? Thanks for reminding us that we can change everything right around us. I really appreciate the honesty here too, thanks for posting, even though I'm sure you knew you would be criticized and diagnosed up the wazoo.

  • carrie

    so many serious people! i think it's hysterical!

  • Genoa

    It's cool. Think about models, they usually dont have lots of products. So we follow this new spirit and we try to reduce -Oh, I just use shampoo-conditioner, and something for the rest- Were she using tears of unicorn back then? No, she just means she doesnt use the other 5 products in the market.

  • Julia Sweeney

    I thought this was hilarious. Been a big fan of Edith's writing for some time now. So pleased ITG featured her; this is like the anti-top shelf ... absolutely perfect for her.

    ITG: it is features like these that make you completely different from any beauty / style publication out there. Keep it up!

  • Sabine

    I totally agree. I moved from NYS to the Deep South four years ago, back to NYS one year ago, and back to the Deep South one month ago. Despite MAJOR purges at least 1-2 times per year during that first southern stint plus two major ones while back up North, I still find that I own things I haven't used/worn in over five years. Which means there are items that I have moved over 1000 miles not once, not twice, but three times and which have never seen the light of day but merely sat in a drawer.

    My eventual goal is to get down to a handful of kitchen, household, beauty, and clothing/accessory items that are used at least daily/weekly according to their natures and jettison everything else. It's a daily goal for my to "use it up/wear it out" and i select a few (usually beauty) items each week for that express purpose.

    Upside: I've made thousands of dollars selling my gently used clothes on ebay. Less is more, and the clutter is emotionally and financially draining. Not to mention I've heard the statistic tossed around that clutter creates up to 60% more housework or something outrageous like that. No thanks--I'd rather spend that time reading my [library] books on my [space-saving] iPad.

  • lindsey

    EDITH I just want to say-- I've been throwing things out (but for a different reason- MOLD grew on all my stuff this summer while I was gone) and it feels so good to open the cabinet under the sink and just see windex and counter spray. Getting rid of clothes was also awesome- knowing that, if I wanted to keep an article of clothing I would have to wash, dry, fold, store, and eventually move it back down to my apartment made me very, very picky about what I kept.

    Anyways, YES. To all of this.

  • Alejandra

    As much as I want to love this article, the 8 different face washes under my sink wot let me...

  • anonymous

    and therein lies the beauty.

  • Kate

    totally my thinking

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