An Open Letter To Dressing Rooms
Dear Dressing Rooms,
Listen, I know you have a job to do and, technically speaking, you do it. You provide a place of moderate privacy in which to put some new clothes on that we are potentially going to buy, and provide maybe a chair if we’re lucky on which to store our current outfit/purse/etc. I will concede that you complete this basic service, even if you’re one of those awful rooms with the curtain that doesn’t quite close all the way so you spend the entire time kind of peeking out like “Who can see me right now? Why didn’t I wear cuter underwear today?” The problem lies not in your inability to shield us from the rest of the store, for the most part.
And I have cleaned dressing rooms. I know how people abuse you — how they assume that, because you are “private,” you are somehow their personal flophouse in which they can throw around their unwanted clothes like some kind of human tornado, with no regard for the fact that someone is going to have to come in after them and make everything once again presentable for the next customer. (And we’re not even talking about the people who get makeup and/or sweat all over the clothes. Those people deserve the death penalty, and nothing less.) Just know that I know your struggle.
I just don’t understand why you don’t make it easier on us. Why, for example, do you insist on having fluorescent, overhead lighting? Who in the world designed you, thinking, “If only we could make our customers see every unfortunate nook and cranny in their skin, and be all-too-aware when the undersized jeans they are fighting to get on cause their stomach to muffin out unflatteringly over their waistband.”? Almost without fail, I go into a dressing room and am greeted by lighting that — even if the rest of the store is more flattering than an Oprah interview camera lens smeared with Vaseline — makes me look like some kind of bridge troll who has snuck into the mall to try clothes on with the normals. This cannot be good for business. Could you at least get some vanity lighting around the mirrors, or something?
Aside from the simple head-on unfortunateness of greenish fluorescent lighting that makes us look vaguely nauseas at all times, there is also the problem of the mirrors. When you have two, and they are angled towards each other to give us an unprecedented view of our backsides from any and all perspectives (no matter how unprepared we might be), the police-investigation brightness only serves to make us look like a paparazzi photo of a celebrity who’s let themselves go. Not to mention the heat. Oh, God, the heat. Why is it always so hot in you, dressing rooms? Why is it at least 10 degrees warmer than it was out in the store, making the process of trying on jeans similar to that of a crab shedding its shell for molting season? Why do we have to emerge in a wholly unfortunate layer of shame-sweat?
It’s just that, when one does stumble upon a dressing room that is flattering, reasonably cool, and spacious enough so that you don’t risk tumbling out of the two-by-two box all wrapped up in curtain — it’s like some kind of gift from the Self-Esteem Gods. We suddenly look fabulous in everything, and beyond that, want to buy the shit out of everything we try on. This is a good thing, dressing rooms! It’s good for you, it’s good for us, and it’s certainly good for the stores you’re located in. Why make yourselves a funhouse of unflattering angles and floodlights? Just set the mood a little bit, and we will buy/feel awesome in everything! We promise.
Just don’t be one of those dressing rooms that makes you walk outside into the common area to actually see a mirror. Not even Hitler deserves that fate.
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Even as I write this now I am debating whether or not to erase it all together.
When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I love the story I can tell to my next lover, about my ex-lover, about how beautiful things were, how intense, how storybook, what a couple we were, and how you gradually, inexplicably, painfully, bit by bit, disappeared.
“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”
I was 24 and, while not gay, ever since college I had been getting more attention from gay men than from heterosexual women.