Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Mirror, mirror on the wall...
Today, after a gruelling hour and a half of “punching and kicking my way to fitness”, I decided to go to one of my favourite second hand stores and indulge in some ‘vintage’ items for my wardrobe. I took the twenty minute tram ride, sitting next to a man who smelled like he hadn’t showered in a year and across from a woman who kept staring at my hands, to the outskirts of the Melbourne CBD and found my recycled clothing Heaven. I walked through the smudgy, fingerprinted door and proceeded to scavenge.
It was slim pickings, the rise in Hipster culture means that anything that can be remotely classed as ‘vintage’ is now about ten times the price it was a year ago, but I managed to find a few choice pieces. I lined up outside the change rooms, basket of goodies in hand, excited to dress up and play around. A door creaked open and it was finally my turn so I squished into the tiny, dimly lit room and hesitantly undressed. Now, I say hesitantly because the room was dusty, less than well lit and cramped, not because I was scared to view my reflection. Although, that soon changed.
So, there I was. Standing in my sports bra and panties, giving myself the inevitable once over. What. The. Hell. Happened? I don’t remember those dimples being there! What are those lines? Do my tits really sit that low? Is that a stretch mark? Oh God! I was shocked. I looked dreadful, dimply, and pouchy. I quickly rushed to try on what I had to try on, disliking everything immensely and constantly cringing at the flashes of skin that poked through the garments, and ended up leaving in a deep depression; lacking not only new clothes but the self esteem I had walked in with.
I was distraught. I thought my body finally looked how I wanted it to look! After years of hard work and a forty kilo weight loss I thought I was finally proud to look at my body in the mirror. Two minutes in a change room changed all of that, or so I thought. After my horrendous experience I decided to ask (and read) around and see if other women felt as badly about their bodies while in a change room as I did. And the answer was “Yes”! Many female friends cited the lighting in change rooms as a primary problem – poorly positioned, not bright enough, and seemingly determined to accentuate every flaw in a woman’s physique. Light bulb moment! It’s not me, it’s the change room. Other women agreed that in the fight against low self-esteem, change rooms are on the side of low self-esteem.
Seventy five per cent of women questioned in a recent study said they had stopped trying on clothes in changing rooms because issues such as poor lighting, and mirror placement, lowered their self confidence and caused “changing room rage” (which leads women act aggressively towards sales staff and leave the store).
So, why is it that clothing stores have these horribly evil dressing rooms that diminish self confidence? Is it because, as a female friend suggested, it inspires you to cover your body with the store’s clothing and in turn spend more money? Or, is it just more cost effective to have flickering, dim, poorly positioned lights in tiny dressing rooms? It can’t be the first suggestion; studies have shown that women would rather run out of a store empty handed than stare at their reflection in the dressing room mirrors of doom. And the second suggestion? Maybe it is cost effective but I’m not sure I believe that is why changing rooms induce these deep seated feelings of insecurity and doubt in women.
Maybe it’s a global conspiracy to knock women down a peg. Maybe without our clothing for protection we more easily fall prey to feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem. I don’t know. Whatever it is, I sure as hell don’t like it and with eighty per cent of women in today’s society suffering poor body image, I don’t think the rest of the female population likes it (or needs it) either.