Hiding in Plain Sight

Shopping for clothes has never been a fun thing I enjoyed doing. I would only buy clothes when I needed them, or after gaining a bunch of weight when I “grew” out of them. Ironically, when I lost weight, I generally didn’t buy new clothes. I just wore the same clothes only baggier. Whenever my friends or my sister wanted to go shopping, I would humor them and tag along, but had no expectation of finding anything I liked or anything in my size. I would walk up to a rack and pretend I was looking for myself, then give up and look for things for them. I was just there. Not really participating, not really having fun, just there in my thoughts, talking to myself about how big I was, how ugly I was and how I wished I had a cuter, skinnier body.

One mild October day in New York City, I was hanging out with my good friend Lenore. Lenore is a beautiful woman with a smokin’ hot figure and has this amazingly trendy sense of style. I love how she dresses. I was envious of her body shape and how she could wear almost anything and it looked incredible on her. At the time, she was working as a costume designer for an internet web series and needed to find some clothes for her actors. Lenore was telling me about her favorite consignment stores in New York City, sharing her passion and enthusiasm for finding the perfect garment. Her eyes grew to the size of Oreo cookies with excitement as she spoke, and I was inspired to join her on one of her shopping sprees. Then she said the dreaded words, “once I find what I’m looking for, maybe we can find something for you?” On the surface her suggestion was not unreasonable, but little did she know the shear dread and hatred I had for shopping. And the automatic assumption we wouldn’t find anything in my size because I was too big.

We walked into the first store. The small vintage shop had two display windows decked out with the latest donation finds – clothing, purses and jewelry prominently displayed to entice shoppers to cross the threshold. Lenore scanned the display windows and without hesitation walked through the front door. She went about her way, searching through the clothing racks, browsing each item. When she found something, she held it up to inspect it closely. I could see the design wheels turning in her mind as she conceptualized the perfect look.

I joined in, walked up to a rack and started sifting. I scrunched the hangers to the left side of the rack and one by one, touched each piece of clothing, sliding the hangers along the bar, looking at the styles and at the sizes. None of the size numbers matched the number I wore, they were all smaller. “I knew it,” I said to myself in my thoughts, “I knew there wouldn’t be anything big enough in this store I could wear.”

Lenore found something she liked, paid for it and we were off to the next store. We walked in and again I went to a rack and didn’t find size numbers that matched my own. So, I chalked it up as a lost cause, disengaged from the clothing racks and went over to help Lenore, looking idly at the accessory displays and decorations in the store.

We went to the third store and I just followed Lenore as she shopped, disengaged and uninterested. We walked passed a rack and I was caught by this beautiful pair of khaki linen pants hanging on it. I looked at the sizes on the rack and they were much smaller than the size I needed. Not even checking the tag, I automatically assumed that the pants were the wrong size and walked right by to the next rack. Lenore had watched my face when I saw the linen pants and knew I liked them. She went over, picked them up and looked at the size.

“Jen, what size do you wear?”

I hesitated and said ashamedly, “20.” I looked up and saw she had the linen pants I liked in her hands. I told her, “Oh… those are too small,” and played it off like I wasn’t disappointed.

“Did you even look at the size?”

“No.”

“I see what you’re doing over there,” she said with a clever smirk on her face, shaking her finger like a metronome back and forth. “You’re hiding and not fully engaging.”

Then she handed me the linen pants and in her big sister commando voice said, “Go try these on.”

I took the pants and with doubtful thoughts, looked at the size tag and saw “20” – my size! I went into the fitting room and put them on. They were a little tight around the waist and I couldn’t button the button, but I really, really liked them. I was losing weight at the time, so I went ahead and bought them, deciding to use them as a goal.

I eventually lost enough weight to wear those linen pants. I remember putting them on and zipping them up and how great I felt in them. I’m glad Lenore “caught” me hiding. I’m glad she saw how much I really liked the pants and spoke up about it. I’m glad I listened to my friend and bought them.

 

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