The dreaded dressing room.

Yesterday, in preparation for my upcoming trip to visit Heather and our vacation to Yellowstone later this month, I went clothes shopping at TJ Maxx. I have been avoiding buying any new clothes for oh, it’s gotta be over a year, now. I have a bunch of cute clothes that I long to wear, only they mysteriously shrunk in the closet. And I kept telling myself that I would NOT purchase more clothing until I could fit into the stuff I already owned. I didn’t want to – still don’t want to – be a person that had half a closet of “fat clothes” and half a closet of “skinny clothes”.

So I existed on a few pairs of jeans and a handful of shirts, and wore and washed, and re-wore and re-washed, the same five or six outfits for a long, loooooong time. To the point that Calvin was all, “Aren’t you sick of that shirt?” On the one day, recently, that I dressed up a little for work (I found a pair of dress pants I’d forgotten about, stashed waaaay back in the darkest corner of my closet), my boss and my co-workers and EVERYBODY asked, “What, do you have an interview or something?” Which made me fully understand, finally, that I really needed to just suck it up (suck it in?) and buy some new clothes, already.

So, a sizeable gift certificate in hand, I approached TJ Maxx as would a warrior preparing for battle. I walked in the doors, and did a circuit of the entire place. I noted where the dresses were, the pants, the shirts, the (dreaded) bathing suits. The dressing room, and the bathroom in case I had to throw up (okay, I exaggerate, but still, you know, NO FUN).

I had in mind a vague idea of what I was looking for, so I started with the pants. I avoided the size 6’s altogether, and headed for the 8’s. I figured there was no sense in trying to fool myself, and I’d just make myself feel bad if I got to the dressing room and tried on item after item, only to find that I couldn’t squeeze into anything. Anyway, I flipped through the racks, and grabbed things as they appealed to me. I moved onto the dresses, and grabbed a couple. I started to feel loaded up, so I went to the dressing room to try stuff on and start weeding things out.

Here’s where something rather miraculous took place. As I tried things on, some items fit fine and I put them in the “keep” stack. Some items didn’t fit well, or didn’t fit at ALL, and as I put them in the “discard” pile I didn’t even register one BLIP of negative emotion. Just, “Eh, that didn’t fit. Oh well, what’s next?” No tears, no anxiety, no self-flagellation. Just… clothes. That didn’t fit. And some that did.

As I departed the dressing room and handed the attendant the stuff I wasn’t keeping, I reflected on the NORMALCY I was feeling. And realized that the dressing room isn’t, in and of itself, a vortex of seething evil (though the lighting sure is). Our reaction to it can be. That’s all.

I went back to the racks and looked through more pants, shirts, and dresses. I took four trips to the dressing room, each time with eight or ten items to try on, and left the dressing room each time with three or four items that I’d be keeping. I left finding a bathing suit for last, looked through the racks briefly, found one I thought would work, and went back to the dressing room to try it on. I knew that I wouldn’t be especially happy with my appearance in it, but the bathing suit fit the way it was supposed to, so I ignored the chub in favor of anticipating what uses the suit may be put to, this summer during our vacations.

I keep saying, “I own my own attitude,” with respect to every other aspect in my life. My appearance should be included in that positive attitude. So I don’t look like a supermodel; I look like ME. In pretty clothes. That fit right. With good hair and good skin and a happy personality. I have a positive outlook toward what I am and will be doing IN those clothes – whether it be partying it up with Heather, hiking in the mountains with Calvin, or ass-planted in my cubicle at work. Too often we sabotage our own happiness, and discolor our own experiences, just because of our own perception of how we look. A perception which is, more often than not, ONLY in our minds and NOT shared by the people around us.

As “Fucking DUH” moments go, it was a timely one.

In the end, I came away with several pairs of pants and capris, some shirts, a couple of nice dresses, some shorts (of all things! I never wear shorts), a bathing suit, a new bag, and a new pair of sunglasses. All of which I’m happily anticipating wearing, none of which make me feel bad that the tag doesn’t happen to say “6”, all of which fit me fine now, and all of which will just fit better as I lose weight. I bought NOTHING that doesn’t fit NOW – that tendency to buy something that was a little tight but would serve to “motivate” me to lose weight so I could fit into it better, well, it never worked in the past, so I didn’t succumb to it yesterday. I recognized my reality and found that it wasn’t so darned bad as I feared.

I win.

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7 Responses to The dreaded dressing room.

  1. Taoist Biker says:

    All that shopping talk makes me tired just hearing about it. Bonus: Male = no pressure to shop. Or in fact to wear different outfits with some regularity. Jeans and/or slacks = good to go.

    I gave up last year and bought a few pairs of new shorts that were 38’s; this winter I did the same with jeans. If I lose enough that they start falling down or bunching up at the waist, I’ll worry about it then. I agree with you that buying tight clothes as a motivator is not the wisest of decisions.

    On the other hand, if you have an old favorite leather jacket in the closet that doesn’t fit, that’s a whole ‘nother thing…

    (Right?)

    • Laura says:

      Oh, I hate clothes shopping with a passion. Always have. I’m a “get in, get out, get it over with” kind of a girl.

      And yes, the favored leather jacket is the exception. Sigh.

  2. Kimmothy says:

    I loved this post.
    Like you, I’ve been existing in the same few outfits for over a year now and I’m looking forward to the time when I can start replacing some stuff. The sizes in my closet range from 6 to 12, and while I know that’s a pretty big range, when the 12’s started fitting tight, I knew it was time to do something. I wasn’t going to go up another size, but I do believe in the adage of not buying clothes you WANT to fit into but really putting some effort into wearing things of higher quality that fit you NOW and that fit WELL. I’m glad you had such a positive experience with that – there is nothing like a little retail therapy to give yourself a boost for all the hard work you’ve been doing!

  3. crisitunity says:

    You do win. Awesome. Great post, too.

  4. Steve says:

    im a guy but i can say that you are a girl who has a positive attitude. get that dress well and fit it something like that.

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