I recently visited a department store to try on some jeans. As I sifted through stacks of overpriced Italian denim, an associate approached me. She asked for that dreaded bit of information: My Size. I told her. “Really?” she asked. “You don’t look that big.”
You don’t look that big.
I don’t know about you, but when I ponder the purchase of $150 jeans, I kind of want to feel good about it. Perhaps this was a misguided attempt at a compliment. “You don’t look that small” would have hurt harder. And I’ll admit that I’m more sensitive to these things than most people. I’m not big, I’m not small. I’m Alex. And I have struggled with my weight for most of my life. I’ve worked damn hard for a damn long time to feel good about my body, and I’m winning. Moments like this remind me of that. So I tried on the jeans and left empty handed. And in case Ms. Talk Too Fast was wondering, they looked really good.
Opinions are like egos and fragile quirks. We all have them. Retail professionals can’t always stifle their judgy outbursts. I should have pointed out to Ms. Blurty Face the ridiculousness of her comment, or at least shared that like a million bucks she did not make me feel. I’m learning. I worked for a women’s clothing store when I was much younger and made sure that every woman I assisted felt good about herself and her shopping experience. It’s shopping, after all. It can be fun. The more we enjoy ourselves, the more money we spend. I’m no statistician but am pretty sure that helps the economy.
Many years ago, a friend recommended that when I run into people I haven’t seen in a while, I should remark how happy I am to see them, not how great they look. In her mind, telling people that they look beautiful (or handsome) makes them subconsciously feel that we’re judging their appearance. I love this concept and try to subscribe to it, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. Again, I’m learning.
I take steps to shrink the power of weight obsession. I don’t talk about my clothing size. I threw out my scale seven years ago. I don’t buy beauty magazines, read celebrity gossip websites, or follow fashion blogs. I don’t broadcast when I’ve exercised. I delete all diet-related advertisements from my Facebook page and flag them as offensive. When I get weighed at the doctor’s office, I turn around and ask to not be told the number. Whatever that amount happens to be is whatever that amount happens to be. All that matters is how I feel. I’m worth more than some number, and so are you. So is that department store lady. Simply being mindful of each other carries the most weight.