So there I was, standing in front of one of those big three-sided mirrors positioned just outside my fitting room, trying to figure out how bad I looked.
Do you think this dress makes my shoulders look extra big, I asked a lady who was sitting on a sofa at Eileen Fisher, waiting for her friend to finish trying on clothes.
No, she said, offering tips for accessorizing.
We’d already chatted some. I learned that she used to work in retail but teaches swimming now and, as the fitting room is pretty much a confessional, we connected on some topics that shouldn’t be repeated here.
And I told her I have several events coming up, including one I had mixed feelings about attending.
I’ll look better once I get my Spanx on, I said, hopefully.
The dress doesn’t cling, the lady said.
Still, I worried; I worry a lot when I shop for clothing these days.
I have gained weight and not for any good reason – such as being pregnant with triplets or coming down with a 30-pound benign tumor.
I worry nothing is going to fit. I worry I’m wasting money buying clothes for myself because I probably don’t deserve anything new – I have a closet full of clothes that don’t fit.
Plus, it’s a lot more difficult to go to the mall and buy happiness when you’re no longer slender.
For example, I count the day a few years back and before my current weight gain as one of the happiest of my life because I found a pair of Citizens for Humanity cropped skinny jeans on sale at Nordstrom. The jeans fit perfectly. I wore them with confidence. I wore them and I felt worthy.
Jeans in my current size – which varies depending on brand, Spandex content and whether I’ve had Chinese food the night before – aren’t attractive.
Sometimes, the waist is so high it’s almost up to my armpits. Other times, it manages to hit the fleshiest part of my belly causing a muffin top – not the top of a mini muffin, but a giant one, like those delicious big muffins you get at Costco.
Shopping for clothing has become so tiring, so worry-filled, so depressing, I’ve been buying other things. Things I don’t have to try on.
I buy dishes and handbags. I buy greeting cards and Dora the Explorer beach towels (not for me). I buy flannel sheets and dog’s pajamas.
And now, after much looking and longing, I am standing in front of a big mirror in a black dress with mesh neck, shoulders and sleeves.
Are you sure about the top of the dress, I asked the lady.
Yes, she said. Then I mumble something about nothing looking good on me.
The lady’s tone changed. I’m not as thin as I used to be, she said. But you have what you have and it’s about embracing it.
And at that moment, her comment made more sense to me than anything else in the world. I don’t know why it did. Other people have said the same thing to me. Maybe this time I was just ready to listen.
Yes, I have what I have and I need to stop treating myself as if I’m less worthy. I need to care about myself and make the best of my weight.
So I bought the dress – and I’ve received compliments on it.
More important, I’ve acquired a new attitude, and I have my eye on a second dress to prove it.