It’s late. I just got back from seeing the movie Endgame with my husband. Awesome movie! And of course we have a house full of teens/kids who are Marvel fans and my son was lying in wait when we got home, wanting to hear our opinion of the movie. (He and his sister went on opening night. Then he took his younger brothers. My husband and I are some of the last to see it in our family.) It was a great date night. We went to the restaurant Tomato Head, a Knoxville specialty, that has lots of vegan and gluten-free options. I was wearing a new outfit. Wonderful evening.
So, about that new outfit…The subject that has been on my mind today is clothes shopping. How many people like clothes shopping? I happen to be one of those people that hates clothes shopping. I would almost rather go to the dentist than have to go buy new clothes. Almost. I avoid it like the plague. That of course, is a simple thing to do when you are a stay-at-home mom with lots of kids and a limited budget. Win-win for me. Don’t like to shop. Don’t have money to shop. Don’t have time to shop. It works. Except when I need new clothes. And I use the word “need” in a literal sense. As in, I don’t own any shirts that aren’t stained or ripped, or any shorts that I’m not constantly hitching up because they are too loose. Getting too small for your clothes is a good problem. Right? Except that I hate clothes shopping.
Well, the stars all lined up perfectly this week. I had time, money, and a need. I went to the store with the specific chore of buying a couple shorts, t-shirts, and a simple dress. Nothing fancy. I walked around, found a couple things that looked ok. As in, I don’t think that will make me look Too Hideous, let’s try it on. I took my armful of clothing and went to the changing room. That’s when the voice spoke up. There’s this really mean, horrible voice, that sounds a lot my own voice, and it’s pipes up in my head every time I go and try on new clothes. Look at you. You look horrible. You are so ugly. Nothing looks good on you. Why are you even trying to buy clothes? You’re too fat for clothes shopping. You should just go home…Even now, writing about this, it manages to evoke an emotional response. I suddenly feel worthless. Ugly. Less than. I hate it.
None of the clothes fit right and I felt very discouraged as I left the changing room. I don’t even think discouraged is the right word. I felt like someone had knocked me to the ground and then kicked me. There’s a reason I don’t like clothes shopping. I tried again to find something that might look right, failed again. The voice got louder. I was ready to give up. I’ll just keep wearing my old clothes. It’s not that big a deal. And then suddenly I was able to step back a minute and view the scene with some perspective. Why are you listening to that voice? Why are you talking so horribly to yourself? Why are you attacking yourself? I didn’t have an answer, and that’s probably a subject for a good therapy session, but I was able to stop. Step back, and look at the problem logically. I need some new clothes. Somewhere in this store is probably at least one pair of shorts and one t-shirt that will look ok. Try again. And so I did. I found a pair of shorts, two t-shirts, and on the way out, found the last dress of it’s kind in my size. Victory.
I imagine I am not the only overweight person who struggles with clothes shopping. Despite the fact that the average American woman nowadays is a much larger size, the fashion industry still focuses most of its attention on the skinnier sizes. I look at the magazines, then I look at myself in the mirror, and I obviously don’t match up to the standards of Beauty and Fashion that they are promoting.
There is a woman that I know, and she is my hero. She is very overweight, but she is beautiful. She does her hair fancy, applies her makeup beautifully, and is always wearing the most fashionable outfits. She is confident and happy. I want that. I want to look in the mirror and like what I see, whether it’s a size 20 or a size 10. I want to feel like I’m worth the effort to take some time with my hair. I want to feel like I am important enough, no matter what size I am, to set aside some money and go hunting till I find the clothes that look nice and fashionable. I want my self-worth to not be dependent on my weight. I’m not sure how to get from where I am to that level of confidence and self-acceptance, but maybe, even being aware enough to make it a goal, maybe that’s the first step.