I feel a frisson of excitement whenever I walk into a store. "Look at all the pretty things… The clothes! The colours! Oooooh, and the shoes!"
I'll skip through the store, grabbing armfuls of T-shirts, jeans, frocks, jackets, bras, panties, heels and all the goodies my little body can carry (I'm like 1.5m short), and then stumble into a fitting room with as much stuff as I’m allowed.
Then it happens. The first moment of panic. "Oh. God," I think, blinking furiously at my reflection. "Do my thighs really look like that?
Where did all that cellulite come from? My tummy cannot possibly be this flabby?! This mirror belongs in a carnival." Because, no matter which store you go to, chances are the mirrors add 5kgs to your body. (It's not just me right? Right?)
*Can you imagine if stores actually had fabulous, flattering, photo-shoot lighting and mirrors that airbrushed our flaws? Imagine how much more clothes they'd sell!
So there I stand, in just my underwear, leaving all my flaws
magnified displayed under hideously bad lighting.
After squeezing, tugging, pinching, grunting, tucking and zipping my body into a pair of jeans (which is inevitably the wrong size), I stand there wheezing like I've just run a couple of kilometres. And, well, whatever I'm wearing doesn't look as good as I imagined it would in my head. Read that sentence again.
Because it’s the crux of the dreadful dressing room debacle and I’m sure that many of you know exactly what it feels like.
In my mind, I imagine I'll look like the shmodels splashed throughout the store flaunting their stick-thin bodies in the exact same outfit that I'm trying out.
In my mind, my thighs are sleek, cellulite-free and toned. My butt is firm, pert and tight. My hips are slim and sexy. My breasts are bouncy and Christina Hendricks's cleavage has nothing on mine.
This fantasy, as you may realise, is a pure form of fiction created by the onslaught of images of perfectly proportioned, magically flawless, technologically-enhanced women that are constantly thrown in my face.
It's manufactured in a world so far from reality that I may as well be on another planet.
But let's get back to earth; in particular, the dressing room where I stand mentally circling the many, many flaws with a bright red marker. Just the thought of having to do the entire routine over and over again until I find something that looks, at a bare minimum, presentable makes me want to run and hide.
But, I endure it. After all, the world is going to see me this way every time I wear whatever I'm going to buy.
Strip. Avoid reflection. Dress. Criticise reflection. Repeat again, endless times until finally… "Hm. This doesn't look that bad. And if I look okayish in this thing under this lighting, looking into the least flattering mirror ever created, I'm sure it'll look better when I'm walking down the street in sunlight. Or even better, under dimmed club lights after a few beers."
Yes. This is the One. Good. Thing about the horrific reflection I see in fitting room mirrors. If this outfit manages make me look – and feel – even slightly better, then surely it can't be worse when I wear it out in the real world.
It's time to go to the till.
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