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The Dressing Room Blues

by Karen Vanasse

Okay, these are my stats. I’m forty years old. Divorced. Stay-at-home mom. Two boys, twelve and two. My boys are my life, and my devotion to providing them with everything they need started the minute they were born. Kids are expensive these days and because of that my discretionary income is, well, pretty pathetic.

Therefore, my own needs are simple. They have to be. I don’t wear the latest fashions, I don’t have any bling, and I don’t drive a cool car ('how superficial I was when those things actually mattered to me,' I keep reminding myself). But on one particular day when I was feeling a little down, I needed a little boost and decided to go to the mall and actually splurge on some new clothes for myself.

I took my hundred dollars … (okay, stop laughing!… I actually believed I could get 3 or 4 items with this money. Shows how long its been since I’ve been clothes shopping.) Anyway, I took my money and walked into ‘the monster of a mall’.

I felt downright prehistoric walking from store to store looking for something that would a.) fit me… b.) cover my private parts… and c.) not make me the object of people staring at me and commenting under their breath “Who does she think she’s kidding, she’s too old to wear THAT!”.

I finally found a few items that I could live with. Ugh! Here it comes. The dressing room. That little house of horrors that ALL women dread. Well, anyone over thirty, that is. It had been so long since my last clothes shopping trip that I had forgotten how traumatic that five little minutes in a dressing room can be for a woman already struggling with self-esteem issues.

Now, just for the record, I highly doubt any woman looks great in her undies under fluorescent lights, although I am the only person I have ‘personally’ seen under these conditions. Why don’t these retailers know this? If you want me to buy your clothes, help a girl out a little bit by putting some soft, diffused lighting in there. Or candles, maybe. All women look good in candlelight. Damn Thomas Edison and that whole ‘lightbulb’ thing!

And why not use some carnival mirrors? You know, the ones that they manipulate to make you look tall and thin like a supermodel. Has no retail marketing executive ever thought of this?

I think I speak for most of the female population when I state that we don’t care if you trick us into believing we look better in your clothes than we do. Us women are the masters of ‘trickery’ ourselves. We just want to look good. We want to appear to be the goddesses that we once were. But all the hair dye, fake fingernails, make-up, botox, fake tans go out the window the minute we step into your little cubicle from hell.

How about this? Exclusive dressing rooms for women ‘over forty’. Maybe a little wine and cheese in each dressing room. I always look better after a glass or two of wine (so do the men I date, but that’s a WHOLE other issue…) Maybe some young, buff ‘escort’ to help bring our “I’ll never get my ass into these jeans” pants into the dressing room. Divert us. That’s what we NEED!

God bless these young, skinny-assed girls who don’t know or care about ‘lighting’ yet. Youth is definitely wasted on the young. Whoever said that was a genius!

So, did I buy any clothes that day? Yes. I bought a pair of pants and a shirt. And the next day I went on a diet. It’s been a week, and so far I’ve lost a couple of pounds. A little ‘dressing room reality’ will do that to a girl. I’ll never be Giselle, Claudia or Kate Moss. But I’m trying.

Hey, how about Fabio on a TV monitor in the dressing room telling me how fabulous I look?…… Ladies, the ideas keep coming…..

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