There are folks who so enjoy a bit of retail therapy. For whom going into and roaming the aisles of stores is relaxing, enjoyable, fulfilling. Then there are people like me for whom that experience is the opposite of all those things. I used to attribute it to simple sensory overload. Too many bright lights, sparkling displays and just-a-bit-too-helpful sales staff. Consequently, I've managed to make nearly all my purchases of everything from shoes to replacement bands for my Garmin 920 Sports Watch via online sites. And when I lost enough wait about 6 months in to following the ketogenic diet and truly needed to get new clothes to replace the then baggy, falling off ones I had been wearing for years, Stitch Fix was a godsend. They shipped a box of five items to my door. I've written about that previously and I continue with the service to this day.
But after a rare visit to a bricks and mortar store to look for a dress for an upcoming trip - I had an idea in my mind what I wanted and thought Soma might have it - my thoughts on my previous retail reticence has changed. Whilst flipping through a rack of long dresses (there's going to be a more formal evening on our trip and my current wardrobe, while vastly improved over most of what I've worn for 30 years, doesn't include a full length dress) a sales person came up to me and with a pretty serious look on her face advised, "You know you're looking in the wrong section. These will never fit you".
My throat involuntarily clamped shut for a second. A flash back to shopping for clothes in my thirties and being told the same thing, a mortifying moment, frozen in my mind.
"These dresses will swallow you up. You're far too small. Let's look over here", she explained.
Wha? Me, too small for... anything? I had been too large for just about all things for decades. Too large for lawn furniture, too large for airline seats, crowded grocery store aisles, all the but largest sized jeans on the Costco tables. Too large to get on the teeter totter with my family when our children were young - and that means with the kids and my Lovely Mate on the other side. And certainly too large to be led to another section of a store altogether by a sales person. This was a very strange moment in time for me. But one I really, really liked.
I described what I had in mind and she went straight to a rack with lovely long, soft dresses. Flipping through them she pulled one out and said, "We don't have this in an extra small but let's see if the small will work." Ok, now I thought I was being punked. You think I should be in an extra small? And a boutique extra small, not a 'we've started adjusting the sizing in our store to accommodate the ever growing girth of the average American' extra small?
She selected a couple of other items for me and off I went to the changing rooms. I slipped that size small beauty on and - God help me - it fit. And looked, if I may write so myself, fantastic. Too long, naturally, as I am of the runt variety of human. But a pair of 4" heel platform pumps should help with that.
And it's a small. A freaking size small! And I'm certain an extra small would have fit perfectly. Keep in mind, when I started the ketogenic diet, I was wearing size 24W jeans - with Spandex in them. And I tortured every centimeter of those stretchy jeans to get across my ginormous arse and belly.
I won't lie. I got a bit high off that experience. I let the clerk take the dress to the counter and I proceeded to thumb through more racks of all sorts of clothes, looking for size small items, getting more and more exhilarated as I saw the cute clothes available. What a revelation. I then went to another store, on the hunt for a pashmina. Two retail experiences in a day? Me? Inconceivable!
It then occurred to me that perhaps it wasn't the bright lights, non-stop music, and reflective surfaces at every turn that caused me to not enjoy shopping. It was the dread of someone telling me I was in the wrong area of the store. Or the fact that segmented areas of stores exist: "plus sized" areas and then the rest of the store. Who needs that particular form of humiliation?
All of this is by way of saying that it's never too late to be 'normal'. To not be the fat person walking into the wrong area of the store, foolishly thinking you belong. If I, Ms. 24W, can now buy an off the rack size small, anyone can. And I mean anyone.
Never count yourself out.
Now, if you're one who is going to be a fashionista at whatever size and who rocks the styles with gusto and loves shopping, I applaud and envy you. I simply never was that person. My loss, for sure, and I'm not proud that I body shamed my own self. But I can't undo those years. I can only get the most out of the 50 or so I intend to have left.
And I expect to be sporting petite, extra small, kick-ass clothes.
Disclaimer: I’ve been fortunate to have had the time and resources to research the ketogenic diet, also known as LCHF (low carb/high fat). The information I share is based solely on my understanding of that research. We are all responsible for our own choices, including what we put in our mouths and there’s no substitute for each of us checking things out ourselves. And I’m not a medical professional in any way. Go Keto With Casey is not a medical site. “Duh,” you might say. But best to make it clear to all. I welcome questions, comments and even civil criticism. I’m still learning. So, if you have something to add, go for it. Links in this post and all others may direct you to amazon.com, where I will receive a small amount of the purchase price of any items you buy through my affiliate links. Thanks!