As part of celebrating my birthday, we went to the Rennfest this weekend. The night before, I was trying to decide what to wear, and I have this particular outfit…. it’s absolutely beautiful and was a huge, mind-numbingly expensive splurge several years back. I can still technically wear it, but it doesn’t fit the way it did when I bought it. I lost a ton of weight a number of years ago, but two years of inactivity due to 2 major ankle surgeries and the normal return of appetite that can happen after you’ve had weight loss surgery, means I’ve put a chunk of the weight back on. I actually ended up not wearing the dress at all last year because I was self-conscious; but this year I made up my mind to rise above my insecurities and wear it.
The day of the fair dawned sunny and cool, and I was so happy and content – it’s one of my favorite places in the world. And lo and behold, I got a few compliments on my dress within just the first hour or so. I was feeling proud of myself for having had the confidence to wear it, and feeling pretty.
Here There Be Dragons
Halfway through the day I noticed the dress had a tiny snag in it, so while the rest of the group grabbed our lunch, I went to the store where I’d purchased it to see if they could help.
First, they insisted I didn’t buy it there, but they “guess they could try and help me anyway” (even though these dresses are very unique-looking and CLEARLY one of theirs.)
Then they said, “Oh, we just didn’t realize it was one of ours because you have it on backwards… like the other store that ‘ripped off’ our design does it.” As I only ever remembered wearing it the way I was, I said I thought this was how THEY had put it on me in the first place. They got really snarky about how that “never would have happened.” (Looking back at the photos turns out I was wrong, but I legitimately didn’t know that at the time.)
After multiple more barbed comments about how they had “no idea why I would wear it that way in the first place,” they insisted on “putting it on right.” (Note that it can totally be worn either way, it’s just a question of whether you want the overdress laced in the front or the back.)
If this had been happening to someone else I was with, I’d have told the bitches in the store to go to hell and dragged my friend out of there, never to return. But I was too freaked out and paralyzed with mortification to refuse for myself. I just wanted to do whatever they said and GET OUT. I’m already so uncomfortable in stores in general as it is, especially clothing stores, and this was starting to feel like the stuff of my anxiety-fueled nightmares.
BUT IT GOT WORSE.
The woman that ended up “helping” me wanted to turn the overdress around right there in the store, which basically required removing it, BUT THE UNDERDRESS IS COMPLETELY SEETHROUGH. When I balked at showing my lady bits to everyone at the festival, the woman seemed annoyed that I wanted to do it in the dressing room, like I was being some kind of bother. (You know, bothering them with turning the dress around that I didn’t even want to turn around because they insisted on turning the dress around that I wasn’t bothering them about turning around??)
THEN we discovered that with the weight I’d put on, the lacing wouldn’t close far enough to sufficiently cover my boobs if I laced it in the front (the overdress is solid from the waist down and while a sheer BACK is not problem, sheer boobies are a different story). So now I’m literally starting to hyperventilate from humiliation.
But why should it stop there? The whole time she’s re-lacing me (incorrectly by the way) back into the dress the way I’d come into the store:
“YOU bought this dress for yourself, are you SURE?” (No of course I’m not sure, maybe I stole it from someone in an Ambien-induced haze of amnesia)
“Why would you buy a dress that doesn’t fit?” and then little “uh-huh, sure, whatever” noises when I tried to stammer out how it used to fit. (Because doesn’t everyone drop FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS on a dress that doesn’t fit?)
Then she looked at the size on the tag and was like, “Oh I guess this was the biggest one you could buy. So that’s why you were wearing it wrong because you couldn’t wear it the right way.” She just keeps chatting on and on about not understanding why I would wear it if it doesn’t look nice because I can’t wear it the right way.
I stumbled from the store shell-shocked and shaking. I’m sure I must have been pale as death. I arrived back where my group was waiting, and my husband took one look at me and was like “Oh my god, what’s wrong??” I burst into tears and sobbed hysterically. Needless to say the lunch I’d planned to eat basically got thrown in the trash (to be replaced by liquid fruit salad), and I spent the rest of the day utterly miserable. All I could think was that I KNEW I never should have worn that dress, that I’m horrible and fat and unattractive. I just wanted to go home and hide in a trash bag. Getting more random compliments later didn’t change this feeling at all.
The ACTUAL Point
The point of pouring out this horrible story is NOT to illicit “oh no that’s terrible” or “oh no you’re wonderful/ beautiful/ etc.” (seriously, just don’t).
The point is:
Why is the bad stuff so much easier to believe? Why does one bad experience have so more power over us than multiple good ones? Why is it that we assume that random people who provide positive vibes, unsolicited, and with no potential agenda or anything to gain fro doing so must be lying or exaggerating; but people who could potentially have personal agendas for saying bad stuff (e.g. feeling bitter if another vendor stole their designs) “must” be telling the truth? Why is it so much easier to be broken down instead of built up?
And why does KNOWING the answers to all these questions not help us feel any better?