Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pretty Woman Moment....

Every girl who grew up in the 80's can tell you the scene they remember most from Pretty Woman. Whether it was the bubble bath, the balcony or Richard Gere climbing the fire escape...we all have at least one moment in the movie that stuck with us. It's part of our culture.

For me it was the shopping scene, where Vivian (Julia Robert's character) is sent out to buy a dress for dinner. Because she was not dressed to the nines and didnt fit the Beverly Hills mold she was rudely told there was nothing for her in the store and to go away.

I have spent most of my life living that scene...being stared at by sales people who know just as well as I that I couldn't possibly fit in anything in their store, or that I was the fat friend just tagging along and holding the bags. It didn't matter if it was jeans or dresses my shopping was limited to plus size stores and limited selections. The worst was definitely formal wear.

In my entire life I have owned exactly two formal dresses...the first was my prom gown (which I reused for a cruise a couple years later), the second was for a conference (the illustrious purple "foo foo" dress). I hated them both. Not because they were all that bad, but because they were what I had to get. I had very few choices because of my size. And the choices were frumpy, boring and just unappealing.

Twendy four years later I still remember the pain of shopping for my junior prom. While my friends were able to shop at great stores, buy stylish dresses and enjoy the experience I got to pick from about 3 dresses shoved in the back of a bridal shop because that was all they had that would fit. The night of my prom I felt ugly and out of place, like a big blue parade float.

Even though I know I am at a very different place in my life and with my body these days, I can't say I have actually put all those old feelings very behind me. When I learned my brother was having a formal New Year's Eve party and agreed to go, those same old fears came rushing back. Could I find something acceptable to wear? How long would it take? Would ever store I walked into just be a dream land for me, looking but not being able to try on and scowled at by salespeople? For as much as I logically knew I would have many more options this time, it was still a hard decision to tell him yes I would come before I had a dress. But I forced myself to do it anyway.

I accepted the invitation on Friday, but immediately started my shopping today, afraid how long it would take to find anything I could actually consider. I already had back up plans in the works such as trips to NYC to shop or altering the "foo foo dress". I wasn't ready to believe this could be any different than it had been before.

And my confidence wasn't bouyed any when our first stop was a vintage clothing store where the only thing I liked was a size 8. Truth, I was ready to pack it in at the point. But luckily I had two friends on the hunt with me today and quitting was no where near as easy as it would have been alone, so off to the Mall of America we headed.

The first store was a bit of a bust, btw when did Jessica McClintock clothing become soooo...ummmm....bold. I remember Gunny Sack dresses and holly hobby patterns, not any more....Jessica is all grown up! Wow!

But even in this teeny bopper land of bright colors and way too short skirts the salesperson was great. She didn't give me the "get out" scowl and tried to help. She even sent us off with ideas for other stores in the mall. It was a really good boost to my ego and made me believe I stood a chance this time.

Then the fun started. We found the newest formal dresswear store in the mall and I was ESTATIC when I realized they had real people sizes. Finally the scene changed and I got to have the other Julia Roberts moment, trying on goreous dress after gorgeous dress. Not one of them couldn't be found in my size, and they all looked amazing. They were trendy, sexy, fun and NORMAL. No old lady dresses, no smocks, just really stylish beautiful dresses. And the trend continued store after store. There was nothing I picked up and wanted to try on that I couldn't, there was nothing I had to rule out because of my size.

This experience could not have been more of a lifetime apart from my previous gown shopping experiences. I truly came away from today feeling so proud of myself, my body and everything I have accomplished. It was amazing to be normal, to have choices and to know that I finally fit in. That me being in those stores didn't turn heads, except for how great I looked in the dresses I was showing off.

While I am sure the question you are waiting for is if I found my happy ending like Vivian.... did I find my dress? That is an answer I am not ready to reveal yet. A girl has to keep some secrets to herself (and her shopping companions). Hang around til New Year's Eve and I'll finish the story *smile*

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