Shopping is awful, I will avoid it at all costs.
I actually have a theory that shop changing rooms are the place that body confidence goes to die. There is nothing worse, in my humble opinion, than having to squish yourself into an item of clothing that you’re not even sure is going to fit, whilst looking at yourself.
Bending over in front of the mirror at the best of times can be unpleasant, revealing all the rolls and the cellulite and the wobble that we try and hide from ourselves on a daily basis. But having to bend over to fight a pair of jeans on, whilst being glared at by the most unforgiving of lights? Literally, hell on earth.
So when I can help it, I buy things online, or make do with what I’ve got.
But then last week I had one of those days where you’re out and about, a long way from home, dressed head to toe in clothes that make you uncomfortable. I’d started the day badly, I’d overslept and then thought way too hard about what I was going to wear.
Looking in the mirror before I left I was sure that I looked swell, but as I stood up to get off the bus for my first stop of the day, I realised that my jeans were too big and as they slid down my leotard was on show (not classy or flattering FYI).
Oh well, there was nothing for it at this point, apart from to pull my jeans up, suck the tummy in and crack on. I then met Minty and we headed to our next stop of the day. After a while though, of stopping ever 2 minutes to pull my jeans up, Minty grabbed me and dragged me in the direction of H&M.
We figured I was definitely not the first woman to experience this and thought that actually this was a regular plight of women up and down the country. And so, with them in mind, we set ourselves the challenge of finding me a whole new outfit (shoes included) for under £20.
Spoiler alert: we couldn’t.
We did do it for under £30 though I’m actually super happy with everything we bought so I won’t complain too loudly.
This challenge was not however, as easy as we’d first thought. We’d imagined just running in there, grabbing a couple of things at lightening speed and nipping into the changing room, to a hit 90s song and within 30 seconds I would fling back the curtain to reveal a whole new me.
With this in mind, we started well, grabbing a long shirt, leggings and a pair of plimsolls.
It hadn’t occurred to me that this might just NOT look amazing, that maybe, just maybe, this shirt would cling in all the wrong places and that I’d been wrong all these years and actually leggings categorically should be worn as trousers. It should have occurred to me, because looking in the mirror that first time knocked the wind right out of me. I looked HORRIBLE. And it hadn’t even occurred to me that that might have happened.
No worries, we thought. Let’s try again.
I stayed in the changing room this time whilst Minty scurried back onto the shop floor to find some alternatives. I was left alone here, standing in my bra and pants doing everything in my power not look at my body under those horrible lights.
When Minty got back she had options galore, so we cracked on. We found a jumper we loved and thought we’d done it. High fives all round. Until I stepped back and realised that NO, it wasn’t the mirror’s fault, the leggings WERE totally see through and making my legs feel rather stumpy.
Back to the drawing board we go. Minty once again began the hunt, this time for some different options for my bottom half, as I stood alone again, disheartened but by no means put out.
Minty returned and we went through the same thing again, and again, and again. To cut a long story short, we ended up with more than twenty items in the changing room and my self esteem in pieces.
I’d spent too long looking in the mirror, I’d thought too much about it. What should have been a fun and easy experiment to compare fashion choices had become a total shit show.
And somewhere between not being able to pull a pair of leather leggings over my calves and getting a jumper stuck on my head, I noticed my body. And I didn’t really love it. Not helped of course, by the fact that I was writhing and wriggling around literally being rejected by the clothes that I didn’t even know that I wanted.
The outfit I ended up with was actually pretty cool. Safe, but cool. But this was NOT at all as easy as we thought it would have been.
We’d thought that the last line of this piece would be something along the lines of ‘go forth ladies, don’t sit and feel self-conscious today in silence, get down to H&M and SHOP’ and unfortunately I can’t do that.
As I have discovered, in real life, on real women, not everything looks awesome all the time. In films we notice it, women putting on the shirt of the man that they spent the night with, it’s too big for her of course, it’s sexy and casual all at the same time. In real life however? Well I haven’t tried recently but I am painfully aware that if I try to do this with Alex’s shirts, they don’t do up over my boobies.
Similarly, when an actress so much as utters the words ‘I’m cold’, someone is on hand with an unfairly soft looking jumper which is SO damn flattering. We forget that in real life there are not teams of people rushing around a costume department waiting on hand. In real life, some jumpers just don’t fit, or fit that well.
Sadly, I’m afraid, there isn’t much I can actually do about this. But there are a couple of things that we can do to ensure that, if you end up in a shop changing room in the coming weeks, trying to execute a quick wardrobe rebrand, you don’t leave feeling like a miserable marshmallow.
1) Don’t spend any more time in there than you absolutely have to, walk around, look in the big mirror.
2) When you need to pull a really tight clothing on, make sure that you are not looking into or facing the mirror as you do so.
3) Avoid trying on dresses if you haven’t got tights, I made this mistake and it just made me feel pale and hairy (which I was).
4) If you’re in a rush DO NOT try on anything tight or daring, God forbid something goes wrong, you don’t want to have to nip back to the office all miserable and flustered.
5) FOLD YOUR CLOTHES. I know this is silly but having a messy floor when you’re looking in the mirror will make you feel instantly sloppy and uncomfortable.
So there you have it ladies, I’m sorry that it’s not easier, I’m sorry that we have to go through this shit, but we’ll be alright because, and don’t forget this, we are all utterly fabulous.
PS. The outfit that I ended up with I can recommend, particularly the shoes we’re are on sale for £10… eek! xx