Monday, 21 March 2016

Open letter to women's (clothes shop) changing rooms

Dear Changing Rooms,

How do you do it? Why do you do it? I go into the changing room feeling light of heart, filled with optimism, my arms full of clothes and my heart full of hope. I peel off my own clothes, stand under the startlingly bright, unforgiving lights, and turn to face the mirror. And then you do it. You show me the Real Me.

There she stands, usually in just underwear and socks (not attractive, I confess);  this flabby, pale stranger, anxious of face and dimpled of (too much) flesh, everything - and I mean everything - apparently travelling South. I swear that soon, her boobs will be in her socks (while her heart's in her boots), and people will turn from her in pity and disgust.

This happened again yesterday, while looking for (another) Mother of the Bridegroom outfit. My daughter, who doubles as personal shopper, swears I was crying. But I wasn't. I was beyond tears. What she saw was total, utter  despair.

Now, let me give you some advice. It you really want me to buy the clothes, then:

1. Turn down the lights. Make them softly flattering, gentle, kindly.
2. Reduce the number of mirrors to just one. I have no need or desire to see my backside. I know it's too big, and don't need you to rub it in.
3. Make that single mirror very slightly distorted, to accentuate waists and slim the legs, thighs, tummies etc. I know this isn't entirely honest, but I don't NEED you to be honest. I need you to LIE. Okay?

Then, and only then, I just might buy something.

Yours in grief and disappointment etc etc

22 comments:

  1. I'll remember not to use the changing room when I next go to buy women's clothes. It sounds too traumatic.

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    1. Changing into women's clothes outside the changing rooms could end up just as traumatic, Adrian...

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    2. Adrian, not using changing rooms while you're trying out women's clothes could get you into even more trouble.

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    3. Thanks for the tip. I'll be careful. They do sound fraught places.

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  2. Oh dear! Did you not buy anything, then?
    I often wonder who the planners think those changing rooms are made for. Sometimes they are so tiny and narrow that anyone bigger than a skinny 12-year-old can comfortably change in there. Or maybe a contortionist.
    I've yet to come across flattering lights in a clothes shop - and lighting that shows the true colour of an item properly.

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    1. We finally found a super dress, Meike. Without my daughter, I would have given up hours before, but she said we weren't going home until we'd found something. That girl is a saint.

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  3. I suspect it's the event that may be stressful and having to 'get it right'. I don't feel I got it quite right until the last one. Why can't weddings be 'smart casual'.

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    1. Actually, Maggie, I like scrubbing up as I do it so rarely. I live in jeans or jodhpurs, and only have to buy tights about once every five years.

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    2. Scrubbing up is wonderful. Yesterday I met a twenty something shifting cattle shit with a bid machine and she said I scrub up fine. I thought she was fine.

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  4. Have to agree with you, Frances - I've been shopping for a 'wedding guest' outfit!

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  5. Oh - meant to add, congratulations on son getting married and enjoy yourself!

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    1. Thanks, Rosemary. The son has taken his time, but has found the perfect girl at last. Phew!

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  6. They don't do me any favours either. I look better at a bit of a distance.

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    1. I think I look my best as a speck on the horizon, Patsy. But I'm still in shock.

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  7. Fantastic and honest post, Frances. You described the traumatic visit to the changing cubicles to a Tee!! I've given up on them all together. I buy the clothes, take them home and try them on in front of the mirror that loves me :) By now, I generally know what will suit or not so the items very rarely have to be returned.
    Happy Easter and have a lovely weekend.

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  8. Oh, I wished that worked for me, Nicola. My friendly mirror is constantly telling me I've made yet another mistake, which should be posted back. Sometimes, I'm too lazy....But a very happy Easter to you, too.

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  9. I agree that changing room mirrors (and lights) are cruel - and that it's hard to understand why. In my own bathroom, the mirror (and light) even lets me imagine that I'm still more blonde than grey... ;)

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    1. I thinks this calls for a campaign, DT...?

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  10. I think the only things I've ever tried on in a changing room are trousers so I've never seen that much of myself in such unfavourable circumstances. Having said that the last time I looked in a mirror at home I wasn't that enamoured of what I saw. And that was in 1974. The male torso is not usually a pretty sight.

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    1. What a wise man you are, Graham. I think I'll leave it a few mor years before I look in a mirror again. Or perhaps not....

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  11. Replies
    1. You're a woman after my own heart, Colette.

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