I’ve been in Chicago for a few days celebrating my friend Diane’s fiftieth birthday. We’ve been close friends since the day we met on the first day of grad school nearly 30 years ago. Since she lives in Iowa City and I live in London, Ontario, Chicago is an excellent place for us to meet. An awesome city that we can both drive to in a few hours.
We do all sorts of different things here and one of them is shopping on the Magnificent Mile. Now I’m pretty solid with my body image these days but I had an experience at Nordstrom the other day, trying on sleep wear of all things, where I was like: no way.
I don’t know if it was the lighting in the fitting room or the actual mirror, but whatever it was I took one look at myself in these things and that very old reflex of “ew” kicked in. And there’s where I became aware of an amazing shift. Instead of sticking with that old narrative I immediately went to “it must be the mirror or the lighting.” In fact, when I left the fitting room and met back up with Diane I said to her “with fitting rooms like that I don’t know how they can expect anyone to buy anything. For a department store of this calibre they should be able to do better than that.”
That this interpretation of what went wrong came so quickly and naturally after the initial voice in my head is a function of many, many years of letting go of negative self judgment about the way I look. And since Monday I have made successful purchases that I felt good in when I looked in the mirror. Better lighting? Better mirrors? I’m not sure but I think this has something to do with it.
That’s not to say that every single thing I tried on in those better fitting rooms was a winner. But generally I felt good when I looked in the mirror, unlike that first fitting room in the lingerie and sleep wear section that first day. I don’t think I’m making it up that some fitting rooms are better than others for helping us feel good about what we see. I don’t mean they have trick mirrors. I just mean they have the right lighting, maybe the right paint on the walls, and good mirrors.
What do you think? Are some fitting rooms more friendly than others? Does that sort of thing affect your body image?