Took the girls shopping yesterday for some warm weather wear and was reminded as to why I hate clothes shopping. My girls were all excited when we got the store and went from display to display picking out some really cute tops, shorts and even a dress or two. I even picked out a few items that looked good and then we all headed to the dressing rooms. UGH. No really. U. G. H. Is there anything worse than a dressing room? It’s like the black hole of self confidence, it just sucks it all away.
For me, I know I need to lose 10-15 pounds and I’m jaded by almost 40 years of this shit so I had no illusions going in. But my girls, they are only 11 & 12, they have their wonderful innocence still intact. But not for long if fashion-forward culture has anything to say about it.
Their healthy, athletic bodies are already considered ‘plus’ sized in their departments at this store. People, these girls are not overweight. They are athletic and solid, yes, but plus size? No. Out of the 6 or 7 items they each took into the dressing room, we got 1 thing. One fucking thing. And my girls were completely defeated. It broke my heart.
None of the shorts, jeans or capris worked for them because they have the same problem I do: need more room in the thighs/hips and smaller waists. Almost every pair of pants that I put on has the same issue. If the waist fits correctly then they make my thighs look like 15 pounds of hamburger in a 10 pound sack. If I get a size that fits my thighs and hips then I end up with 3-4 inches of extra waistband gapping out.
We went to another store and I had the girls try on a bunch of jeans and shorts to try to find out what sizes we really needed. I had to make them because they were really not feeling it. Neither one wanted to do anymore shopping, let alone try on clothes all over again. But they are also in that middle ground between the preteen department and the misses department so I wasn’t sure how their sizes would translate. So with some cajoling, and some outright threatening, we began the process of trying on lots of different sizes and lots of different brands. Because, as we all know, every brand has it’s own version of a size and every size fits differently depending on the style. And even with their handy dandy posters telling us which style fits a certain way, it all ends up like the most frustrating algebra equation ever: Brand X + size Y / Style Z = “just giving me some fucking jeans that fit!”
Anyway, after a bit we did find some that the girls liked and that fit. They were happy again because the sizes didn’t mean anything to them. All that mattered was that they found capris that fit them and we were done shopping. I, on the other hand, let every snug waistband or sausage-like thigh chip away at my confidence. It would be nice to regain some of that ignorant-to-the-size mindset but I know I can’t really get there. Not after so many years of defining myself by what clothes size I was currently wearing. And I know there will come a time when the bubble breaks for them as well. When the incessant hum and hue of ‘culture’ pushes in and tells them that they should be a size 2 if they really want to be happy. Mike & I are doing our best to fill them with ideals that will hopefully carry a greater weight than an advertising pitch for jeans but, as with any woman, you can only hear it for so long before it niggles it’s way into your psyche. I struggle with it all the time and even when I think I’ve mastered it, something will come along and make me feel like shit because I’m not the shape I think I should be. I don’t know if it’s a right of passage or a curse or just proof that we let ourselves be lied to but it sucks. It just really sucks.