|Photo courtesy of the George Eastman House|
I go in with hope that of the dozen or so items, at least one will suit me. In my optimism, I wonder how I'll choose between the glittering options if they all fit?
But that rarely happens.
Before I go on, I should note that while not the slimmest reed in the pond, I am a fit 5'3" and low 20s in bodyfat percentage -- well within the "fit" range.
So you'd think I could find clothes, no?
In reality, the fitting room might as well be a twisted funhouse hall-of-mirrors, where every angle points out a flaw you didn't realize you had.
To add insult to injury, the fluorescent lights have an uncanny ability to spotlight blemishes and grey hairs.
Suddenly I know what an American Idol hopeful must feel like when Simon rattles off a list of the contestant's inadequacies. (Then again, at least in a fitting room, the critic is in my head, and there is no audience watching.)
I woke up this morning feeling pretty good about myself. I've run every day for the last month. I've been lifting weights again. My biceps show. My jeans are loose. I can even (almost) fit into a pair from 10 years ago. (I did mention my clothes are old-ish.) My gluteus maximus carried me through a half marathon just last month.
But yet, 45 minutes in a clothing store, and I start to question my body.
- A shirt pooches in front like maternity clothing, and I wonder: Do I need to lose more weight?
- Another top is snug below the waist, and I wonder: Is there a way to shrink my hips?
- Pant cuffs pool in a puddle around my ankles, and I wonder: Can I grow by about 3 inches?
- A sweater sleeve threatens to cut off circulation in my arm, even though it's a size L, and I'm only 5'3," and I wonder: Am I lifting too much?
And then I get angry.
First I'm angry with the clothes.
Who made these clothes anyway? How is it possible that clothes for grown women have the same dimensions across the bust, waist, and hips? WOMEN HAVE HIPS, DAMNIT! And boobs. Women have boobs! Why don't shirts fit across the top???
Then I get angry with me.
How do I let a little thing (a pooching sweater, a poorly-cut pair of pants) mess with my mind? Is my self-esteem really so fragile? Did I really just consider giving up push-ups and curls to fit into a sweater???
And if I, who pretty much has the lock on "average body type," have this much difficulty finding clothes that fit, how hard must it be to be a non-standard size? I shudder at the thought.
I cuss under my breath that "clearly only Kate Moss could shop here and be satisfied."
And I leave the store empty-handed.
Maybe I'll stick to jeans and a sweater after all.