5. VICTORIA’S SECRET (PINK)
“You walk to the corner clearance section, where your mom picks out your first bra. You cannot yet fill it out. You are approached from behind by a scary smiling stranger, who manhandles your under-formed breasts in the name of ‘measurement.’ You head the dressing room with three very plain bras and one secret sexy bra in hand. (You’re thinking of Johnny from math). You try on the demos that have been shared by thousands of AA cups before you. You think to yourself ‘wow. I guess I could use Band-Aids.’ You look at the pink and white striped walls. You think they are getting closer. You weep.” — JM
Bobby Jack stares into your soul. You ask your mom for a shirt of the monkey plugging his ears, saying “Not Listening!” She says no. You ask her about the other one, where he puts out a hand, the text reads “How About NO” but that idea is shot down, too. You continue to beg your mom as she sifts through bland, crew neck t-shirts. After much negotiation, she finally gets you a set of pajamas with the monkey’s face all over the pants and shirt. You hold up your end of the bargain by retreating to the dressing room with her choice of clothes. You try on the only good choice she gave you, a purple shirt with a rainbow on the front and a pair of bootcut jeans. You hate these clothes. You begin to hate your life. All you wanted was Bobby Jack. You will never fit in with the other girls.
3. RUE 21
You and your friends are spending the afternoon at the mall, free from the watchful eye of any parents. You all share a look; you know where you’re headed next. Rue 21 is the store for bad girls. You wonder if you yourself are a bad girl as you cross the threshold. A graphic tee with an image of Courage the Cowardly Dog amuses you. You’ve never seen a full episode– your mom found it crass. Still, it appeals to you; it calls to you. You snag the last one, assuming that a junior’s medium will fit. You retreat to the dressing room, a friend or two tagging along. They wait outside as you stare blankly into the mirror. Tears fill your eyes as you wonder why the boxy shirt is not flattering. “Carmen could wear this.” You think. She’s waiting outside. You sniffle deeply, pulling all of the fluids back into your eyes and nose. She can’t know your weakness.
2. ABERCROMBIE AND FITCH / HOLLISTER
Owned by the same company, either store is capable of making you feel uniquely terrible. The moment you walk in ugly clothes shake your sense style as bad perfume warps your sense of smell. They tell you that if you spend enough money here, you will become Sam Puckett from iCarly. You run your hands over highly distressed jeans, but you know that neither your parents nor the school dress code would allow holes like this. A pink polo catches your eye, and you put it with a more appropriate pair of jeans. In the dressing room, you ask yourself why it doesn’t look good. Is this not the height of fashion? If the clothes aren’t the problem, then perhaps something is wrong with your body. Your lip trembles. You buy the polo anyway.
There’s not much to say. You’ve leafed through the catalog one hundred times. You want to wear overalls with a striped, cropped shirt. You want to wear long sleeves under short sleeves. You want a long skirt to pair with a sweatshirt. Nothing could prepare you for the fact that these clothes are designed for dolls.
“Your mom is waiting outside of the dressing room. She asks if you’ve tried on the pink shirt yet. You think you may have to drop out of middle school and join bootcamp.” –SK
Categories: eliza ligon, october 6, 2020, reflections