Sunday, January 21, 2007

Body Image Issues..

Not just for 50 somethings anymore?

Actually that has probably always been the case -- but I have never seen it better illustrated than last Saturday.

My sister and I are taking a sewing class. That's right - we're sick to death of clothes that don't fit either our bodies or what we want to look like. And as we are not so financially flush that we can have clothes made for us, we figure we might as well take a shot at making our own.

So there we were on a Saturday mid-morning, with 7 others, 6 gals, one guy (who was there with his girlfriend but quite serious about it), almost all but one younger than we. Be that as it may, a couple of things became quite apparent:

1. NO WOMAN CAN FIND CLOTHES THAT ACTUALLY FIT HER! As it turns out, it apparently is not just a size issue.

When the instructor started talking about figuring which size you are in a pattern as opposed to what you buy off the rack, a it was like a line of bobble heads nodding in the affirmative when in the course of her explanation, she mentioned how straight forward sizing is for men as opposed to women. When she said something to the effect of "And that's why clothes in two different stores of the same size can fit so differently" that's when the bobble head action started.


Talk about not seeing THAT comin'!

Successful sewing requires exact measurements. Thus, it should have come as no surprise when the instructor told us all that she was going to measure each of us to get our clothing size.

You could have heard a pin drop.

Now picture this: With the exception of the 4 "women of a certain age" in the class (that's counting the instructor!) everyone else was, to my and my sister's eyes, "normal" size or smaller.

Yet when the instructor said that I wasn't all together sure that the class wouldn't empty out immediately! I have to confess, MY first thought was "If I'd know I was going to be measured in public, I never would have taken this class!")

After a short break (after which, to the credit of the class, everyone returned!), it was time to face the measuring tape! As our instructor stood expectantly holding the dreaded snake of truth, we all sat there, genetically unable to move.

It was up to my ever valiant sister to resolutely get up and move to the front. A dutifully supportive sibling, I followed suite. The ice broke, and our younger fellow students followed us up as the instructor assured us all that she was just going to write the info down on our handout form -- in other words, we wouldn't hear our sizes broadcast across the room and the store!

As I was being measured I said aloud with what I hope was humor and not bitterness "Isn't it ironic that every women wants to wear clothes but nobody wants to be measured for them?". Some laughs, definite agreement and the ice dissipated - faces relaxed and the measuring completed more or less painlessly.

I guess they figured that if I and my sister could face the numbers, hell, they could too!

Later, my sister and I reflected with some laughter and more than a bit of bafflement on the whole experience. It reminded us, somewhat sadly, that women are always struggling with what they think their bodies should be and what they really are - no matter where they are on the timeline of life!

It also reminded us to be a little more forgiving of our old chassis - their not as bad as our perceptions lead us to believe!

1 comment:

Dorez said...

I can understand how you felt. The tape measure doesn't lie, so it's traumatic when we actually see those numbers (waist, hip, bust etc).

My daughter is a fashion designer, specializing in plus-size clothing. She sells online and often runs into the problem of customers having to exchange an item because the sleeves don't fit or stuff like that. The measurements are posted on the site, but women either don't want to be honest about those numbers or they don't actually know their measurements. I'm glad you handled it so well when you were in class. I hope other women will realize that it's better to be honest if you want your clothes to fit right.

Thanks for sharing your experience.
- Dorez