My Imagined Clothing Crisis

I am staring at a white bag full of expensive clothes on my dresser. It is full of some of the most expensive clothes I have ever bought.

Correction, someone bought them for me-but I'll get to that in a moment.

When I say I grew up poor, I mean I got my clothing from donations. You know when you're feeling good about yourself and go through your closets and give them to your church, Salvation army or local clothes drive?

You were giving me clothes.

So thank you. Seriously. Thank you.

I always wondered if someone would see me in public in their old clothes if they would say something to me. Or worse, they would find me unfit to wear their hand-me-downs (I know, low self esteem issues) and confront me or ask me how I'm liking them.

It was always a constant fear. I know, ridiculous fear, but a real one to me nonetheless.

When the rare occassion happened and we had a few extra bucks we shopped at thrift stores or cosignment stores. Yes I would get clothing gifts from my aunts around Christmas and my birthday but not on a normal basis.

I remember my aunt took my angsty teenage self to Fashion Bug when I was 14. She told me to get what I wanted and needed. I picked two pairs of blue jeans and a few shirts.

For the school year.

I was in a weird predicament.

I felt sick and nauseous someone else was buying me stuff and that I needed and felt like a burden. But I also knew if I didn't pick stuff I would be asked over and over where I wanted to shop, what I was looking for and so on and feel like an ant under a magnifying glass.

I am great with building others up. I can listen for days. But when it comes to talking, really talking about my emotions, I feel like it's a sin.

So at 14, there was no way I was going to be disrespectful to my aunt and tell her I wanted to not buy anything and leave. I did not want to feel like I was indebted to her for my clothes, like I already felt to strangers for the clothes I did have.

Maybe if I would have been honest about my feelings or even had a hissy fit or little break down, it would have been better for everyone. Even though I'd be embarrassed all my feelings would be out and people would understand my hesitation for shopping.

Instead, I'm sure, it appeared as I was ungrateful as I hurried through the store and grabbed things and wanted to leave. My overwhelming guilt of being poor was suffocating me and I just needed to get out of the store.

Once we got to the cashier, my eyes watched the prices making sure I got the cheapest items, forcing my mouth to be ready any moment to say, "I didn't really want that" if I deemed it too expensive.

Then the time to pay came and my insides came undone.

I always waited for the person who was supposed to be buying to turn and look at me and say, "What are you waiting for? Pay the cashier".

It never happened, but seriously, the nerve wracking fear that developed in the pit of my stomach has yet to be matched.

I think that fear that caused me made me hate clothes shopping.

When I started working in high school I helped out with our bills but for the first time I had spending money. Little, but it was mine.

I remember going to the mall with a girlfriend and she spent seventy dollars on jeans.

One pair.

I almost vomited in my mouth.

Maybe you're used to that, but it made me feel ill. I could not wrap my head around spending that much money on one piece of clothing.

My internal dialogue was going nuts.  What about groceries or the electric bill? Shouldn't we be looking for cheaper things? It took me a minute to calm my racing heart and remind myself that there are people who don't blink an eye on spending that much on clothes and can afford to. And my friend probably didn't even know what their electric bill was or how much they paid for groceries.

I think I bought a pretzel and a lemonade that day and that was it.

I couldn't bring myself to spend my hard earned money on clothes when I knew I could go to Goodwill and find jeans and tops for a couple bucks a piece.

When the time came, and I did decide to splurge, I went to KMart and spent twenty dollars on jeans and that still felt like too much.

I guess it's a syndrome or something I don't know.

To this day, I do not find joy in clothes shopping but now for other issues.

Now, I am at the largest I have ever been. Only recently, have I taken the fat by its love handles and decided do something about it. Although I've hit a plateau, since the beginning of this year, I have lost 22 pounds.

I've got a long way to go, I know this, but I am at least heading in the right direction.

But being my size, I rarely buy anything I think is cute because I find my body offensive.

I don't want to subject others to the way my fat may bunch up under the cute shirt and offend them.

I don't want someone else to see me looking happy in my cute, put together outfit and think "that fat girl thinks she's all that".

I don't let myself enjoy what should be a fun time shopping because I can be an idiot at times.

I love color. Bright colors. Neon colors. I love animal print. I like trendy. I love vintage. I love hippie stuff.

Love it all.

Yet, you will see me in black pants and one of my solid color tees and a sweater and sneakers on the daily.

Rarely will I feel the need to dare to be bold. To wear hot pink pants and a zebra print top. To give no thought of what other people think. To wear what I want.

But I love those that do. That have the courage to say, "This is who I am, this is my style-I am going to rock the hell out of it!"

I want to be one of those people.

I am trying to take my own advice. To just be myself. To enjoy life, it's too short not to.

Really, if someone says something about me in my fabulous outfit that just reflects poorly on them and they do not even deserve  my attention. Or yours. Any of ours.

There is no need to add fuel to the fire. Acknowledge it,  flip them off in your head and forgive them and enjoy the rest of your day.

No point dwelling on the thoughts of someone who needs to attack someones happy. They have a lot more issues than a few terse words can fix.

So, back to the bag.

My sweet friend, reasons unbeknownst to me why, wanted to take me shopping.

I probably could have backed out on the grounds when we chatted and originally agreed to it, I was hopped up on antihistamines, and pain pills for a rocking ear infection.

But she's pretty damn feisty and I'm pretty sure she can take me if necessary.

This past Wednesday, she picked me up after work, and forced me to leave my purse in the car.

That's a big thing first of all because it's my security blanket. The bigger the better. And my wallet was in my purse. She was watching me like a hawk so there was no way I could grab my debit card slyly. I still hate having anyone else buy me something.

So after minutes of me longingly staring at my purse and petting the window of her locked door, I realized I should probably go into the store.

Lane Bryant.

I like their clothes. Their clothes are actually cute, my size, have great quality  and anytime I've been in a store they have always greeted me nicely and treated me human.

Rather than you know, approaching me with a forced smile and stating quietly, "I'm sorry, we have nothing that will fit you in here".

Uhh, that's cool bro, I was just coming in to buy a gift card for a Christmas gift but I'll take my fat ass to Target who will gladly take my money or I'll just shop online, no biggie.

So getting treated like an actual customer is nice-refreshing even.

It is nothing terribly expensive, but I am still the girl who finds bargains at thrift shops and Wally-world so when I see a $45.99 price tag on a cute top, I shudder on the inside a little.

We were the only two in the store besides the sales associates, who greeted us promptly. JQ and Lisa, were there to help us shop. They asked what size I was.

Okay this was the moment I didn't know if I should just run out the door and break my friends car window and grab my purse and run home. Okay, okay-walk.

This could have been a nightmare scenario. I could have wimped out and asked to go home.

I could have denied myself a fun time.

Instead of being constrained by past fears and current ones I chose to be bold.

"26/28", I announced. Hopefully in a regular voice, because I screamed it with all my might in my head just so it had the courage to make it past my lips.

They all three, my friend and the two sales associates, smiled and got to work. Grabbing fun clothes and bright colors for me to try on.

I took my time looking at items trying to remember what I actually needed if anything. I was going to stick with my main look when I remembered I smashed any old thought processes when I walked through that door.

I grabbed a blingy top with some jewels and a cute flowy skirt and just had fun.

I tried on a bunch of clothes.

Seriously, a bunch. I almost needed a break.

My friend grabbed my likes and scurried them away, I think because she knew if left with me I would put them in the "I don't like this pile".

When it came time to pay, yes I still got a little edgy, but my friend shooed me away. This was a gift for me to enjoy to wear with confidence.

It was an afternoon spent trying on clothes. One where I spent it enjoyjng trying on clothes.

I found flattering fits and some not so flattering styles. I didn't mind showing off and twirling outside of the dressing room.

I had a moment of clarity.

I realized even though I'm a constant work in progress, I do not have a moment to waste not celebrating who I am.

I have good taste, good friends and good family who love me for who I am. I should at least extend myself the same courtesy.

So today, I'm going to take them out of the bag. Cut off the tags and throw them away. Wash my clothes and actually wear them.

And look like a damn rock star.

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