what not to wear

I buy most of my clothes in thrift stores or at Target.  This is partly because of real financial constraints, partly because I am cheap, partly because I got into the habit of thrift shopping when we lived in Tucson and there were some really good thrift stores (not so much here), and partly because clothes shopping feels like torture and it’s just easier to buy yet another black T-shirt.

My friend has decided that I need some new clothes (she’s tired of being seen with me in my pathetic wardrobe), so tomorrow she is taking me shopping.  I am going to spend $100.  On clothes.  For myself.  Which she will pick out.  She’s convinced that I am not just “beautiful on the inside,” and that my negative body image is just because I haven’t been trying on the right clothes, a la What Not to Wear.

I am skeptical.

Clothes shopping used to be fun–when I was 19, and thin, and I liked the clothes in the stores, and before this whole skinny-jeans-pencil-skirts-stretchy-tops fashion horrorshow happened.  I’m not even really that fat–I’ve never once had a doctor tell me that my infertility was related to my weight (which I understand happens all too often), and I’m pretty consistently a size 12.  Nothing to be proud of (I was a 6 once… *stares wistfully into the past*), but not unhealthy either.  The problem is that my body is like a sick parody of fertility.  I have all those characteristics that the evolutionary psychology nutjobs say are fertility markers:  great big breasts, relatively narrow waist, wide pelvis and hips.

No one needs to see that.

Which is the real issue, of course, and why I hate shopping so much.  I am so deeply ashamed of my body–not just the 40 pounds I have put on over the past 15 years, not just the giant ugly scar across my abdomen from this summer, not just the weirdly flabby upper arms, not just my real and ongoing hatred of The Skinny Jean in all its manifestations, but also the freakshow going on inside me.

Infertility just gets its poison paws on everything.

I am grateful to have such a caring friend, and I think she really does believe that I am beautiful (all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding), so I am going to be a good sport tomorrow.  I will try on whatever she picks, and I will get out my credit card and try not to think too hard about where else that money could be going (Amnesty International, kiva.org, student loans, Christmas presents for my nieces, a new audio interface for my husband…), but I am afraid that I will just end up sobbing in a mall dressing room.

I’m crying now, just thinking about it.  Why is this so hard?

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4 responses to “what not to wear

  1. Be strong!!!

    It might be a total disaster (it sounds awful to me), and do NOT let her bully you into buying stuff you know you’ll never wear. I say invest in some really flattering jeans, which will totally suck up the $100, but will make you feel prettier while still being comfortable. And if you’re feeling really crazy, perhaps some non-sneakers. That might be going too far for me, though– I empathize. One target-black-Tshirt-clad lady to another.

  2. Well, first of all, I want you to know that I too am blessed with ‘child bearing hips’…and I have been super fertile all these years…we tried just once and I now have my fifth kid on the way! 😉

    Well, first of all, I hope she gets you some really cool clothes. BUT!!!! Remember she is shopping for you with your money, so make sure you don’t buy anything you will never want to slip into…get good clothes but be sure you like the look and feel of them.

    All in all, I hope you have a good time, issues notwithstanding!

  3. Sigh. There’s nothing like a friend who thinks she can fix negative body issues with the right outfit. That shit goes deep. And it’s depressingly universal. I don’t know if this till bring any comfort of if you’ll just be like SHUT UP YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND, but objectively, society tells me I’m fine, except for being too pear shaped, but I can’t stand seeing my body. I avoid mirrors, do my shopping online, could never, ever bear to do what you’re doing with your friend. I mean, getting someone’s assessment of my appearance? I’d die. I’ve always been this way but it got exponentially worse when I failed to get pregnant over and over again. And you’re so right, the scar does not help. And the skinny jean needs to DIE DIE DIE.

    That said, stick your social conscience in a drawer, and your sorrow over the death of this child and all the misery people endure in the quest to be parents (because I’m reading this after your later post) and be good to yourself, because you fucking deserve it.

  4. I love Target.

    And I hate to hear that you are deeply ashamed of your body … though it’s not a surprising outcome of IF and I hope you don’t think your feelings are abnormal.

    From my perspective, we aren’t perfect and our bodies aren’t perfect and they will fail us about 1000 different times in a thousand different ways before we die. Not that we can’t be sad or mad or scared about those failures; but just remind yourself that it’s not specific to YOU. Everyone’s body fails them in some way at some point. So please be gentle with yourself; no more self-flagellation.

    Anyway, even as a size 6 (way back before I started trying to get pregnant), I couldn’t have worn those f’ing skinny jeans … because I’m a real woman with real hips. Skinny jeans are about as realistic as stiletto heals – and as torturous.

    I have faith that your friend will choose some flattering clothes that might lift your mood and your body image. And I think it’s a wonderful treat for yourself so NO GUILT.

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