As winter thaws and spring has sprung, styles shift to accommodate the warmer weather. Uh oh. I liked the layers; the scarves over sweaters over t-shirts that disguise the soft curvaceousness that envelope my body like freshly packed snow on the hard ground below. But in truth, on my best, most physically fit day…I’ve still got a considerable amount of junk in the trunk. According to the style chart at the clothing store I work at once a week, I am known as a “pear shape”; the good news is that I am excellent company, as Beyoncé and Alicia Keys are “famous pears”. How nice for all of us. Just another thing we three have in common: beautiful, talented songbirds… with overly abundant booties.
In my years of customer service experience, I’ve seen and heard it all. Once they are stripped down and vulnerable, women reveal their fears, their insecurities in the change rooms. Every woman dislikes something about her body, and their hatred is augmented in the florescent mall lighting. Now this goes for any shop— the stress, the pressures and the expectations make even the strongest feminist a puddle behind the change room door(especially lingerie stores—how is that an effective sales tactic to display airbrushed images of models in the underwear you are about to try on? You are setting your customers up for a fail before they even take their shoes off).
I have actually held women in my arms as they sobbed, boiling over with self-loathing, drowning in the abject frustration over a body they simply cannot clothe. And I get it. There is nothing quite like jean shopping that makes me want to punch myself in the face and light myself on fire. It’s that moment when you try to pull the pants up and your knees act as a border crossing to a Communist country, and only the most specific visa requirements will be accepted. It’s the age old battle of cloth and curves, and defeated, you nearly tumble over in the tight quarters, with jeans you will never own locked around your ankles (sadly, one of the most slender attributes you have). Glancing in the mirror you see nothing but flaws and failures, (why did I wear this underwear? Oh my god, has that mole always been that misshapen? I really must do more squats…any squats, really) and you realize that fashion does not suit you, you must suit it. Face it; you are not Kate Middleton with nice lean long symmetrical legs, looking chic in a skinny jean.
As for me, my thighs are like Godzilla, and my calves Tokyo, forever in the shadow of mythical proportions. This is where I exhale wearily and look for an A-line dress instead.
Discussions about body-issues often arise at my other job. What we don’t like about our figures, shopping pet-peeves and the like. One of my co-workers has a similar body type, and while I occasionally lament my own shape, I think she looks adorable. This is a version of reflective, low-grade body dysmorphia, when you think you look like a bit of a heifer, and yet someone else in the exact same frame looks perfectly acceptable. An issue that has personally plagued me for years recently came up in conversation, and I am astonished at the familiar suffering of others: the death of rare, beloved pairs of comfortable jeans due to the wearing out of the inner thigh. A holocaust of holes where the thighs rub relentlessly together breaking the material down before its time. When someone mentions this, I throw my head back and laugh uproariously. “Has that ever happened to you?” “Uh…only to every pair of pants ever!” And we talk about the many botched patch up jobs, and the devastation that these pants can never be worn again, and you shake your fist up to the heavens, and lament the pears that ruin pairs of precious pants.
A young woman from another department passes through the kitchen. (We call her Legs LaRoux, as she has Middleton style gams). We ask her whether she’s lost pants to thigh-friction. Her face twists in confusion “I’ve never heard of that” (I’m not even making this up; she probably still has jeans from the eighth grade). We all stare at her in silence…with similar sour expressions from the day she tried to offer up Bradley Cooper as a sexy counterpart to Ryan Gosling. She’s clearly not one of us.
But what is one to do? If I hated every woman with a nicer figure than me…I wouldn’t have a lot of friends. I’d like to be above that superficiality, not take too much stock in magazines, advertising and celebrity culture, but that would involve gouging my eyes out, and I’ve already punched myself in the face before setting myself on fire in this piece, so let’s just call it a day shall we? A little self-acceptance is in order, appreciating beauty in all shapes and sizes. And who doesn’t love a pear? It’s not my most favourite fruit, but who wants to look like a banana anyway?