A couple months ago I started working in a special occasion dress shop. This unnamed corporate entity
specializes in weddings, but also carries dresses for prom, homecoming and any other event one might
need to purchase a lovely dress for.
As a fashion-loving feminist, I have found this experience enlightening in a variety of ways. The most
important of these revolves around the issue of self-esteem. I can’t even begin to tell you how many women have come in to shop and spent the entire time degrading themselves.
For my column this week I thought I would share some tidbits of wisdom to inspire anyone who may be in the same mindset.
First of all, don’t worry about your dress size. These numbers are completely arbitrary. No two women have the exact same set of measurements. There is not a single dress in my store that fits any one woman perfectly. If a dress doesn’t fit you, blame the dress, not yourself.
Frankly, I have no idea who they are measuring when they make these dresses, but I can assure you it is not living, breathing women. They do not take into account factors like height or proportion. You could wear one size in one style, and a different size in another. There is no consistency whatsoever. That’s what tailors are for.
Second, there is absolutely no reason to feel bad about yourself if a bridesmaid dress looks awful on you. The colors and styles are often chosen to fit an aesthetic, not you or your personality. It’s OK if the dress looks bad. In 20 years you’ll look back on the pictures and have a good laugh about it.
Next, self-depreciation is not honesty. I recently had a customer who spent the entire time shopping berating herself for having curves. When I asked her why she was being so hard on herself, she explained that she had to be honest with herself because no one else would be.
That’s just silly. Honesty is looking in the mirror and saying, “I’m not perfect, but I’m beautiful just the way I am,” not “I hate myself for this long list of silly reasons.”
Furthermore, don’t compare yourself to the models. Models are Photoshopped to fit an unrealistic standard of beauty.
Also, if you are on the slim side, please do not complain about how fat you are (you’re not). It is disrespectful to women who struggle with self-acceptance because they do not fit that same standard of beauty.
Our society tells us in order to be beautiful we must be tall, skinny and white. This is obviously not true for the majority of women. There is no reason to hate yourself just because you are not these things.
Women are not meant to be clones. We are all beautiful just the way we are.
Please remember these things the next time you go shopping. I promise you will have an infinitely better experience.