I was shopping with a girlfriend a few weeks ago, and just to give you a little background: this is one of the coolest girls in the world. Beautiful, smart, hilarious, and always makes everyone feel like the most important/interesting person in the room. So you can imagine my heartbreak when I heard those discouraged words come out of the dressing room: “I’m too fat for these clothes.”
“No you’re not,” I replied. “The clothes are too small.” I wish I could have thought of something more clever, or reassuring, or somehow made her feel better. Even more, I wish I hadn’t said the same thing about myself hundreds of thousands of times in dressing rooms before that one.
I’m betting you’ve said it too at some point in your life, or some variation on it. I guarantee every woman has said some variation on this. I’m too short, I’m too tall, too fat, too thin, my butt is too big, my boobs are too small, yadda yadda yadda. In some way, YOU do not measure up to the standards set by this $30 dress and it is all your fault.
It’s pretty rare to hear a comment like this out of a man. If they try on a shirt that doesn’t fit, they say “This shirt doesn’t fit” and they put it back and try on another one. No therapy needed.
If you’ve read any of my other rants, you know that I’m no Skinny Minnie. I’ve walked the line between the women’s dept and plus size my whole life. Even when I was a junior, I wasn’t built like one – I think I had round hips before I even had hair. I suffered through the boxy-sweater era and the boyfriend-jeans trend, none of which suited my physique. Did I buck the trends and wear what looked good on me? Of course not, I blamed my body. I can’t count the number of times that I burst into tears in a dressing room because “I didn’t fit” into the clothes.
No. This is wrong. Self-effacement has gone too far. My body is fine just the way it is. There are plenty of clothes that look great on me. There are also plenty that don’t, and that’s fine. Lots of people aren’t shaped like me and they need clothes too. Plus, I would need several secret high-limit credit cards if I looked great in everything I tried on. But I can’t say I’m not discouraged when a really cute dress looks terrible on me, or worse: won’t even zip all the way up.
Think of how awful you’d feel if your best friend saw you in the dressing room and said “Ugh, you are WAY too fat for that dress.” Or if she said “Your boobs are too small” or “your ass is huge, you’ll never be able to zip that thing.” Yet we say these things to our own reflection over and over and over. Why??? If your best friend was trying on a dress that didn’t fit, you’d say “Let me go get the right size for you” or “That dress sucks, you’re too good for it.” You’d never blame her for the poor fit of cheap clothing, but you blame yourself all day long. It has to stop.
The day after that shopping trip, I spotted a cute dress online that I wanted, but I read the measurements I realized it would not fit me. I immediately responded “Oh bummer, my waist is too fat :-(” Less than 24 hours after being sad to hear my friend berating her body, my reflex was still to say the exact same thing about myself.
“I mean,” I corrected. “The dress is too small. My waist is just as it should be.”
Stay pretty, my friends –