Body Image Blues: Shopping When Nothing Fits

Sometimes, practicing what you preach is not as easy as it looks.

On Black Friday, my daughter and I were at the shopping mecca of New York City: Fifth Avenue. We were betting on grabbing good deals at the high-end boutiques, and guessed that shoppers would be fewer in this more chic area of town.

If nothing else, we would window-shop, admire the elaborate “sidewalks dressed in holiday style” as only NYC can do and cap the day with a glass of wine at the St. Regis Hotel. What fun! We giggled about playing “grown up” for a day.

I decided to splurge on something magnificent for my speaking engagements – a holiday treat to myself to celebrate being with my daughter for five luscious, luxurious days in New York City.

We stepped through the doors of a tasteful, elegant, and very expensive retailer. We were immediately immersed in racks of lovely clothing to adorn the woman of style in her 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond. The boutique was inviting and gracious, albeit with a staff that seemed only moderately congenial and interested in helping us. (Was it my NYDJ jeans?).

Nonetheless, the garments were so beautiful that I asked to have four outfits brought to me. I could see myself modeling them for the gentleman I’m dating, and feeling oh-so-confident in front of my next audience of beautiful, zesty women.

The retail clerk brought the requested treasures. That Mandarin red jacket! And that gentle peacock blue silk blouse with matching silk tank! Delicious. With black silk pants – a magnificent outfit!

Then I tried them on.

“Well, well,” I thought. “It seems clothes now fit a little tighter than last year. That’s OK.  I’ll just get one size larger.

But as I tried on more tops, slacks, jackets and skirts  — all of which didn’t fit, I began to get that horrible feeling that I call fitting-room fatigue, or body image blues. I didn’t like my body: That turkey neck, those heavy arms unable to fit comfortably in the sleeve, that blubbery tummy making the trousers and jackets tight.

Frankly, I was feeling old and unattractive, and I said so to my acting advisor, my daughter.

Suddenly, she stood up straight, put both hands on my shoulders and said, “Mom! You teach this stuff about managing your thoughts while shopping! So stop the self-defeating thoughts right now!

“Get real. Let go of the size thing. These clothes weren’t made for you. Big deal! And nobody looks good unclothed in front of these mirrors. Where is that beautiful, confident, sophisticated mother of mine? Let’s leave.

Isn’t it amazing how our own offspring can give back what we so blithely hand out? She was correct, of course. Those clothes weren’t right for me. It didn’t mean I needed to lose 20 pounds or commit myself to the gym. It simply meant it didn’t work this time. That’s it!

I hope this lesson will help all of you destined for fitting rooms over the holiday season.