I know, I know, last week I was talking about the retail dream BUT this thought popped up while at a party last night. The person sitting next to me was proclaiming the joys of “retail therapy” and I immediately thought, “therapy????? more like torture”. When was the last time you walked into a regular retail establishment and left feeling better than when you walked in?? For me it’s been a very, very long time.
I’ve harped on this before but during a time of year when people might be starving themselves to fit into a dress for a holiday party or racking up debt buying things they don’t need, it bears repeating. Stores do not exist to make you feel better about yourself. Their goal is to make you buy things, more often than not they accomplish their goal by making you feel less than. Not cool enough, not young enough, not current enough, not thin enough, not fit enough, not smart enough, if there is an insecurity out there it will be attended to by the retail darlings of our world. Whether you are walking into Foot Locker or Victoria’s Secret it’s about selling you a dream, jumping higher with the right shoe, 40 year old boobs transforming into 20 year old boobs with the right bra……..it’s agonizing. Rationally we know we can’t all look like the guy/girl in the picture, nor should we – HOW BORING to all be carbon copies of what the media deems as “perfection” at the moment. However, when that’s all** you are presented with day in and day out, in the stores, on the internet, TV, and movie screens it can screw with your head. Suddenly that’s what “normal” looks like. (Small aside: has anyone figured out what “normal” is by the way, or “fitting in”…..fitting into what, exactly? Any clarification you’d like to offer is welcome) While flipping through an InStyle magazine at a friends I noticed 2 pages for “full figured women”, 2 pages out of…..possibly 200? Yet when I walk around my city I see 75% full figured humans and 25% smaller sized humans – for most people media is not selling a dream, it’s more like a nightmare.
So, what can be done? Positive affirmations every morning? Boycotting the offensive parties? Sure! Why not?
This is not a new idea, we are voting every time we spend a penny. Give your money to places who are in line with your priorities.
I’m not talking some obscure hard to find store, for example Gap has made an impression on me with some of their holiday model choices – older women and men, diverse ethnicities. Okay maybe there are no visible lines on Cyndi Lauper’s face but it’s a step, a step I will support when I buy new Gap socks for my son’s ever growing feet.
But let’s also talk about the lesser retailers, the “mom and pops”, in Texas we have Run On, a fitness shoe/apparel/etc. retailer. These people are not about fitness to fit into a dress, they are about health, strength, community, when I need running shoes, they’ll get my money.
As for affirmations, be your own cheerleader, tell yourself wonderful things. This is hard at first and feels really forced but it gets easier. When I started being kinder to myself I wrote things and stuck them to the mirror inside my closet. Here’s an example, instead of hating my thighs I remind myself that they allow me to run, jump, skip, I’m lucky to have them, as I read in this hilarious letter. Write down a few things that don’t feel ridiculous when you say them and try and work it into your daily routine. I like this quote from Lauren Hutton, reminding me that the choices are mine, I don’t need to feel bullied by trends.
Lastly, my concerns on this issue usually circle back to my 8 ear old daughter who already feels the pains of not “fitting into” retail offerings. If I struggle at 37 years old, imagine how the little ladies in our lives are fairing?! Came across this book from Katherine Schwarzenegger, “Rock What You’ve Got”, might be a nice present for young ladies in the 12-17 range this season.
** Thanks to the amazing internet, there is something out there for everyone. Forget what most of the world is presenting in their media campaigns and go in search of things that ring true to you.