The best thing about shopping with my friend Jennet is that we would walk into all the stores I’ve avoided for the past 7 years due to my weight and I got to look around without feeling judged. I may not be skinny myself, but see! look! I’m shopping with a skinny girl! so don’t kick me out of the store!
But still – I could feel the eyes of the shopping attendants watching me. I could hear their thoughts.
“Why is she in here? It’s not like anything will fit.”
“Does she actually think that would look good on her?”
Two weeks ago I went shopping alone. I darted past all the “normal” size clothes stores peering into the windows longing for a shirt that was that hip and pretty. I didn’t even try to go in. As I walked past I could see them watching. I could hear all those people thinking “She won’t go in there…”
Last week I went shopping alone. I walked more slowly past the “normal” size clothes stores and this time even went into a couple. But as soon as I walked in and that attendant smiled and said “Hi, can I help you with anything today?” I knew what she was actually saying – she was actually saying “Hi, are you lost?” Looking around it seemed like the clothes would fit – but there was no way I was going to face the mirrored dressing rooms and try to squeeze in, only to be defeated and faced with having to walk out past those shopping attendants empty handed.
So… I did what any (obviously sane) plus size girl would do and I went online to my favorite stores. I looked at the same clothes I’ve looked through for the past three months hating each bit of clothing more and more as I clicked through. I found a shirt (that I already own in blue) and decided I could just get it… in pink, nude and black…
But I don’t want just the same stupid shirt in different colors! I want cool new shirts! Fed up with looking at the same clothes online and hating the idea of having to buy them…
Today I went shopping alone. I marched right into the “normal” size clothes stores and I started grabbing everything that I liked. I went into the dressing room and started trying shirts and skirts and dresses and pants on. Some fit great, some were too small and some were too big. A knock on the dressing room door and a voice “How is everything going in there?” (but we all know what she was really saying, right?) startled me. Reluctantly I opened the door to ask for a smaller size in a skirt, scared that she would laugh in disbelief that I didn’t need the biggest size they carried. Before I could say anything she saw me and said “That shirt looks nice with your eyes, but I think you should get a smaller size.” I nodded, handed her the skirt and asked if she’d grab that too.
In a daze I shut the dressing room door and slid down to the floor. Crying I stared at the girl in the mirror. I stared at this girl, who despite having lost 7 sizes, still sees the same body every time she looks at herself. I stared at this girl who has been berated so much by society’s standards that she felt like an impostor going into a public store. I stared at this girl who has traveled the world, has great friends and a good education – but still can’t be proud of herself.
I got mad. Mad at myself for getting sucked into this never ending cycle of self-loathing and body image issues. I stood up, wiped the tears away and decided to stop it. To stop seeing the flaws and to start to see what looked great – and so much does.
I walked out of the dressing room and bought two shirts and a dress that I really loved. For the first time in a long time I tried on a lot of clothes and got to pick the ones that I *loved*… not simply the ones that “fit”. Then – I walked into any store I bloody well wanted to and tried on every piece of clothing that I thought was rad. I got some great clothes and I talked to some great sales associates – who were likely never judging me in the first place. They helped me find some great pieces that make me feel self confident.
I refuse to feel like an impostor because of my weight. Even at the end of the day, when I had the size 12 dress on and it looked smashing – I still didn’t buy it because “there is no way I can fit into a size 12 from this store”… This is weird and screwed up and such a prime example of how our culture fucks with girls’ heads.
But I’m going to get better – because from now on I’m storming into whatever store I want and acting like I own the place.