06 March 2013

Clothes Shopping: Love/Hate Relationship with my Body

I just want to talk for a minute about women's bodies and shopping. Now, I have what I have always considered a normal body. I am not overweight, nor am I too skinny. I have some cellulose (perfectly normal) in my thighs, my calves are thick from sports, and I still have a waist (at my age and after having a kid). And I love my body--it grew and birthed a child, it has ran marathons and hiked up mountains, it has danced and laughed and repaired itself from illnesses and injuries--but I hate clothes shopping. The thing is, while trying on clothes and seeing how nothing fits even though I pick my size off the shelf, I start to loathe my body. Love body while not clothes shopping; hate body while clothes shopping. Tough equation.

In the dressing room while stuffing my all-of-a-sudden sausage legs into a size 10 pair of pants--damn "skinny" pants!--I start to feel fat. In a size 10. Scary double digits. I wonder, if sizes came in letters, A,B,C,D and so on, would I feel the same about my body? Or would I equate the letters with school grades and think I have failed if I wear a size F? Yet the numbers serve to tell me that the higher I go, the bigger I am. When in fact I am not big. I am just me. My body is perfectly sized exactly right just for me. So how is it nothing ever fits? Why aren't the clothing companies making clothes that actually fit my body? If one pair of pants is too small in the legs, they're too big in the waist. If another fits in the waist, they are two feet too long in the legs. Trying on endless pairs of pants, I find myself longing for the days where people made their own clothes, or had their own tailor.

And don't even get me started on those mirrors and those lights! While the clothing may make me feel fat, the lights and mirrors make me feel ugly! Blotchy, pale, discolored, wide, out of proportion--it's like a fun house mirror. If the companies do that on purpose to try and disorient us into making bad purchases, oh wait, it's working. I bought a royal blue blazer at the store where it looked awesome on me in their mirror, but when I got it home it looked like a Wal-Mart cashier  blazer! Sigh. Why do I even go shopping? Oh yeah, I usually don't shop at big box stores. Tonight was an exception. I think I'll stick to my local downtown stores who have signs on their regularly lighted mirrors that say "I am beautiful! I love my body." No more exceptions. No more cheap short-cuts to big box stores. Back to thrift stores and saving up for weeks to buy one item at a clothing boutique! You can't really win with clothes shopping, can you?


Robyn Lynn said...

Ah, yes. I do understand Sam. And I am a size 4! I used to be much smaller, but over the years my body changed shape, got cancer, lost a boob. You would think I would be more sympathetic towards it - for all it has been through. And I am. MOSTLY. Except when I have to shop for jeans. Or a bra. Or a bathing suit. Or if I look at a magazine. Pretty much any time I have to fit my body into someone else's idea of "normal" or "acceptable". I don't know why I let it bother me - god knows I am awfully proud of all the other ways I am not normal! And my body suits me. The forces we are up against are hard to overcome even when we are vigilant. So I wear more vintage these days, stuff from when people were shaped like people. I order online from companies I already know I like - and fit. I confine myself to writing and backpacking magazines where the models are happy and look like they eat. And I make an effort to say thank you everyday to the kick-ass Dragon tattoo on my torso. She reminds me that beauty is as you choose to see it, not as it may fit a standard.

Sam Poet said...

Yes! Thanks for commenting, and it is so good to keep up this conversation of what is body image in the media, clothing companies, and mainstream ideas of beauty. I can't believe we have to be so vigilant all the time! Love the advice about vintage. Beauty is as we choose to be, as is the way we love ourselves. xoxo! p.s. we met Cheryl Strayed at AWP and she said "Write like a mother fucker!" I remembered your mug:)