I’ve just finished by last shift working in a retail job. I worked for over a year in (primarily) clothing shop on the high street. Many people will have worked in a similar environment at some time or other and will be well aware of the challenges it includes (customer service being the #1 challenge). One of the things which comes with the territory is the subject of size, it is an intrinsic part of the job. And I have some thoughts.
1. I found myself getting offended by customers making comments such as
– “oh, there’s only huge sizes left” – only to discover that by huge they meant a 14 or above
– “it can be hard for big girls like us to find a good fit can’t it?” – now I’m fully aware of my size, but whenever a situation like this occurred I found myself comparing my body to the customers, in my head thinking “yeah but you are 3 sizes bigger than me!”. These thoughts made it clear that I am a part of the problem!
2. When working in the fitting room (assisting with zips and getting sizes etc.), I encountered so many women who would try something on and if it was too small, would refuse to try on a bigger size because “there’s no way I’m trying on a 16!”. What is with this mentality? I suffer from this as well but at the end of the day, I’d rather wear something that fit and was flattering than a) something too small and uncomfortable or b) not buy something I liked because of the size that fit me.
3. The constant justification we feel the need to give. The number of times people have told me their life stories/why they look that way because they are trying on a size they think is embarrassing or something. (“Oh, could you get me the next size up? It’s just for my chest area, this is the size I normally am, really!” or “I just need a size up in these jeans, honestly it’s just for the waist, you see I’ve gained some weight recently because of work/stress/injury so I’m bigger than usual at the moment”) I really don’t care what size you are trying on, there is no need to justify it!
When can we get to the point where we stop worrying about the numbers and start thinking about our personal mental and physical health? The constant comparisons, to friends, models or strangers in the street, are also damaging, we are all completely different and there is no standard or normal. I’m going to try my best to embrace this mentality starting now.