Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Good Underthings For The Dressing Room, Or...

...Confidence For The More Mature Lady

The other day, I spoke about the idea of confidence, my remarks being primarily aimed at younger women.  Today, I am going to throw in my two cents about confidence for the woman who is a little older.

I am 50 now.  I am in the midst of the menopause.  I am rather broad-like (or, at least, I aspire to be).  I am also a bit sensitive, rather clueless about fashion, and -- admittedly -- probably not always quite as confident as Ben McKenzie would recommend. 

Now that I am 50, my body is not what it used to be.  My parts seem to be falling apart in this order -- thighs, butt, hips, back, tummy, calves, arms, shoulders, boobs.  Thighs getting the worst of it and boobs faring the best.  I am also a fair amount heavier than I was when I was 25 and 125 pounds.  I am not in the worst physical condition, but neither am I in the best.  I am starting to take on the appearance of a grandma.

Usually, I am pretty accepting of how nature is taking its course, but once in a while it totally pisses me off.  And that leads me to this story.

About two weeks ago, I made the decision to go with my 23-year-old daughter, Bridget, to the mall.  We picked up an item she needed from the Apple Store and had lunch.  All was well up to this point.  Then I asked her if she wanted to do a little clothes shopping in Nordstrom. 

Off we went to the dress section.  We picked out several things each and the nice lady put us in the extra-big dressing room so we could try on the items in regular gal-pal fashion.  Bridget looked really cute in all the things she tried on.  Me?  Not so much.  One of the dresses, though it flattered my figure, wouldn't zip up all the way.  Another item, though lovely in color and shape, was a bit "revealing."  Not "revealing" in the sense of giving hints of my lovely womanliness, but "revealing" a lot of my stretch marks and various dimpled, saggy areas.  A third dress was quite comfortable, but Bridget vetoed it.  She explained it in this manner, "Your bust and your butt go out, but your waist goes in, and this dress doesn't go in at your waist.  So, it just looks like a tent on you."  This was all rather discouraging, especially because I could imagine how these dresses would have looked on me 20 or 30 years ago.  "We've come a long way, baby."

Next, we made our way to a section of the store containing pants and tops.  I found a couple of cute pairs of linen pants and a couple of colorful, flowy tank tops.  At first, I was horrified by the pants, because they were much tighter around the waist and hip area than linen pants usually are, but the saleslady told me they were made that way on purpose.  Maybe she was full of shit, but I just decided to go with it.  I tried on XL tank tops, thinking they looked all floaty and romantic, but Bridget (trying not to laugh) told me they were MUCH too huge and brought over the saleslady, who seconded her opinion.  Both of them got me to try on the next size down.  The saleslady pronounced, when she saw me in the appropriately-sized pants and top that, "There.  Now you have a cute figure."  Like I said, maybe she was shining me on, but I decided to believe her and bought the clothes.  And, I admit, they are cute.

So, what does this have to do with confidence?  When I saw myself in those dresses and imagined what they would have looked like on me 25 years ago, I started to cry.  This is probably pretty vain, but there it is.  Bridget was sweet, though, and gave me tissues and hugged me and told me that I was still pretty.  She told me that I just needed to find the right things -- things that would flatter my "now" figure and not my "long-ago" figure.  Then I cried some more when the waist and hips on the linen pants were snug.  But, when I got into the correct sizes and was made to understand how things were supposed to fit, I felt better.  I realized that I need to accept myself for how I am now and not mourn how I used to be.  I realized that I need to take the advice of people "in the know" about fashion.  I realized that if I wear the right things for 50-year-old me that I can still be cute.  I won't be cute like a 25-year-old, but that doesn't really matter.  I am 50, and I need to embrace the attractiveness of that.  And this is a positive sort of attractiveness.  It can be gentle and nurturing and warm and caring.  Grandmotherly.  All good.

And what does this have to do with "good underthings for the dressing room?"  You know dressing rooms, right?  Mirrors all around.  Bright lights.  Looking at my middle-aged body in this environment is fairly horrifying.  Every flaw glaringly apparent.  But, then I inadvertently discovered something.  Having an awesome, gravity-defying bra and pretty, well-fitting panties can make this potentially horrific situation more than tolerable.  So, next time you're thinking of heading off into the sunset of that department store dressing room, make a stop at Victoria's Secret first.  You'll be glad you did.  This is also a smart thing for us middle-aged broads to do because (have you noticed?) more and more dressing rooms are co-ed.  And if you're like me -- having been raised in the era of sexually segregated dressing rooms -- you'll occasionally forget this new phenomenon when absent-mindedly opening the fitting room door to ask for your daughter's help or opinion. 


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