Weighty Matters

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Buying Clothes in “Normal” Stores

I’ve talked about shopping for clothes several times, but I’m experiencing some more new stuff.  The whole experience of going into pretty much any store and finding clothes in my size is still not something to which I am accustomed.  It isn’t natural behavior and, sometimes, I need to remind myself to take the plunge.

That happened in September when my friend and I were in Key West and passed a Chico’s store that was having a big end-of-summer sale.  She suggested we go in.  “Oh no,” I said.  “I’ll never find anything.”  My mind kept going to all of the Chico’s ads I’d seen on television with the very tall, slender models.  My friend told me that the store had sizes that would go up to what I’m currently wearing — and she was right.

Several months ago I discovered that I can go into this local ladies sportswear store and find clothes in my size.  I still figured that was an anomaly.

Yesterday I went to Key West to hang out with some friends.  I’m leaving for a cruise soon and needed a few sporty tops and, hopefully, a pair of shorts or cropped length pants to round out my shipboard wardrobe.  I thought I’d check out Chico’s.  When I rounded the corner, another shop’s windows caught my eye — Fresh Produce.  Honestly, my first thought was, “No way.  Don’t even bother.”  I took a deep breath and went as far as the sale racks that were close to the door.

Well, what do you know?  They had clothes in a variety of sizes from XS to XXL.  Some were numbered, but not in the regular number sizes, you know, 6, 8, 14, 18.   I am not good at looking at a garment and assessing whether it will fit my body.  My body shape and image are still distorted in my mind’s eye.

I asked a salesperson for help.  She was cheerful and friendly when she informed me that it all depended on the garment.  Two different saleswomen told me that they wear any of three different sizes from the store.  Hmmm.

So, I learned that there is no standard for XS or M or even XXL.  An XXL in this store could be the equivalent of an L in another.  Heck, it wasn’t even that close a comparison — an XXL in one shirt could be similar in size to an L in the one next to it on the sales rack.

There truly was no way to guess and I found that I had to get over a couple of hangups about the size on the tag.

I thought of that Anne Lamott Anti-Diet post a week or so ago where she says that there are enough things affecting her self-esteem without her jeans and clothes having an opinion.  I vowed to not negatively judge myself over the size on the tag.  XL didn’t mean that I’d swelled up and gained weight.  It meant that the particular garment was designed and cut smaller than other styles.

The only things that mattered were: Did the clothing catch my eye?  Did it fit when I put them on?  Did I like the way that I looked in them when I wore them?  Did I like it – period?

Once I put the sizes out of my mind, my shopping stress level dropped and I had a really nice time picking out a few great things.  When I left, I was not only pleased with my purchases, but I was also very happy that I’d confronted my apprehension about even going into a so-called “normal” clothing store.

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