Why I’m Convinced Dressing Rooms With No Mirrors Encourage Anorexia And Self Hatred

Considering I live in New York City, where on my fat days I see lithe 6’1” models wearing aged drapes and looking better than I’ve looked on my best day, I’d say I have a pretty healthy body image. I am 5’5”, a size 6 or 8 depending on how I’m feeling about bread that week, with chicken legs and large-ish breasts that look great in V-necks and terrible in anything from Free People. My motto pretty much goes as follows: If someone is making one of those urgent PSAs about obesity in the U.S. and their cameras panned the crowd, would my stomach be one of the faceless jiggly muffin-tops that makes the viewer cringe and rethink their 20-piece chicken nuggets and Diet Coke? No. Ok, great. Money.

With that said, today I went shopping. I went shopping because I spend money as soon as I get it, or in some cases, before I get it (word to Kanye circa The College Dropout). I headed to a recently-opened boutique dripping with fashion-blog hype, and while I won’t divulge the name, I will say this much: the store is originally from Canada and recently opened in SoHo. Anyway, I walk in with the intention of perhaps purchasing an item or two. I knew the store’s price range is above mine, but I have a credit card with a $500 limit and I’m feeling risky.

As I thumb through tanks that seem to have been cut straight from my mother’s dust rags but are oddly appealing in a dirty “I-could-totally-wear-this-with-Doc-Martens-and-messy-hair” kind of way, I am approached by an obviously anorexic sales person wearing a cinched heather grey T in an XXS, which is emphatically tied at the waist to say “I’m 23 inches going on 22, beat that!” She is nice. She takes my shit and starts a dressing room. Nothing new. Meanwhile, I am on the same browsing path as another girl. She looks like the brunette from 8th and Ocean on MTV back in 2006. Remember? The one with thick eyebrows who came from a Christian family and flipped shit when she had to show a little nip for a photo shoot? Well, she is simultaneously having many of the same items pulled, although she is a size 2 and four inches taller than me. Whatever.

After 30 minutes of awkward parallel browsing with 8th and Ocean girl, I have a dozen under-100$ items pulled and waiting for me. When I am ushered into a curtained room, I realize with impending horror that there is no mirror in the dressing room. No fucking mirror. Who does that? I try to decide if I should leave. How am I supposed to really scrutinize an item of clothing if I can’t openly strike poses and bend over and pretend to flirt in the privacy of my own personal space? I am instead subjected to using the communal mirror in the common area of the dressing room. The communal mirror that, I’m convinced, is used to encourage self-hatred and yet somehow also elicit bonding between the sales people and those of us who aren’t overgrown Olsen twins, which, as it turns out, are the minority here.

I gather the courage to dash out in a pair of shorts, trying to act “normal” and inconspicuous, when suddenly, 8th and Ocean girl walks out in shorts. The sales people rush to her. The shorts, le sigh, are too big. They’re practically falling off and she is actually now sagging like a total gangsta.

“Will you please pull a size zero for her?” says the saleswoman in charge. Everyone crowds aroud. She stands there and holds the shorts up with pinched thumbs and forefingers. The crowd of saleswomen all gaze at the girl with longing; they are mostly size 2s. Tragic. I bet they have a club that meets on Tuesdays where they remind each other what food tastes like and then laugh and swallow entire packs of gum. I duck back into my dressing room, trying not to be discouraged.

While I probably sound like I’m exaggerating my experience or feeling sorry for myself, I promise you I’m not. But come on. No mirrors in a dressing room? No normal-sized sales people? Only one L to every pile of 10 S and Ms? Finding a size 8 in a pile shouldn’t be a conquest, it should just BE. I know, I know. This is an age-old complaint, that the fashion world shuns those who can’t effortlessly slip into sample sizes. But that’s the runway. That’s the cover of Vogue. That’s the movies. This is a store in New York that is only notches above Zara or H&M. When I get my appetite for shopping back, I’m thumbing through the cluttered fuckery at Forever 21 with normal people. Who cares if the salespeople are stoned and sneaking gummy bears?

And in case you were wondering: I bought three items. Spent $225 dollars. Left feeling kind of depressed, it started raining, I came home, and I ate three pieces of peanut-butter toast. This week, I’m feeling pretty enthusiastic about bread. TC mark

image – Thing Three

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  • Anonymous

    Oh the hatred for Aritzia – if you can fit into anything at that store, you should have NO problem coming out of the change room to look at yourself. No to mention, here in Canada – the age range of clients at that store are 12-16 yr old brats. 

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, it’s a middle-school thing in Canada! Like, Aritzia has really nicely designed stores but I can’t believe it has fashion blog hype in the US right now! That’s unbelievable.

      • erin

        i can confirm this, though most of the teenybopper girls that shop at aritzia exclusively purchase the TNA brand. aritzia does have really nice items for women in their mid-20s in normal sizes and fabulous fabrics like tencel, silk, cashmere, etc. it’s not cheap either. TNA and talula are probably their cheapest (and most popular, esp. with the youngins) brands.

  • Anonymous

    Oh the hatred for Aritzia – if you can fit into anything at that store, you should have NO problem coming out of the change room to look at yourself. No to mention, here in Canada – the age range of clients at that store are 12-16 yr old brats. 

  • A.

    Usually I’m not critical over things like this, but I’d consider rephrasing, “approached by an obviously anorexic sales person.” How do you know she was ‘obviously anorexic’? Being thin does not signify an eating disorder. Especially considering the title of this article I found that sentence in particular to be sort of offensive.

  • http://www.oneyearintexas.com Perfect Circles

    This is why I only shop at Kohl’s.  Expect great things.

    • http://twitter.com/jkymarsh J. Ky Marsh

      I love you.

    • Agreed

      I too, love you! Kohl”s is so where its at:) 

    • http://www.facebook.com/jeffreyjamesskatzka Je Sk

      :):)

  • erin

    LOL! Aritzia! I don’t understand why they have 00 sizes. I think originally the store was created by Asians on the west coast and a lot of Asians are petite, don’t have a lot of curves, can’t find clothes that “fit” or something, etc.

     I hate that communal mirror too. I think its purpose is to have those salesgirls comment on your outfit and convince you to buy it. Lame. Like one time I tried on a really ugly flowy tank top and this girl, so unenthusiastically, without even looking at me, said “Oh that’s cute” in the most monotone voice ever and walked away.

    On the flipside, I like a lot of Aritzia’s brands and fabrics. Wilfred, in particular, has not disappointed in quality, and yes, Wilfred clothing does come in “normal people sizes”. Just hold off til the summer sales begin!

    • average girl

      “I think originally the store was created by Asians on the west coast and a lot of Asians are petite, don’t have a lot of curves, can’t find clothes that “fit” or something, etc.”

      That is not a racial stereotype at all. Sorry that you don’t understand why the store caters to Asians who can’t find clothes that “fit” or something.

  • Ab

    I feel the same. These days women are either one extreme or another in terms of size…possibly due to Americanisation on the larger side and fashion designers designing for ‘hangers’. I hate it!

  • Anonymous

    Haha! I used to be a salesgirl at a fancy boutique, and I really don’t understand this behavior in salespeople, the cooing and ooing and aaahing over the beautiful people for no real reason. They don’t necessarily spend more. If anything, they spend less, and tend to go shopping solely for this kind of experience and not to you know…buy things. I’m  a regular-ass size 8 woman, I gave plenty of attention to regular-ass women looking for actual help finding things to flatter their not-perfect bodies and I made BANK.

    • http://profiles.google.com/cowashee Colleen Farrell

      Hells yeah – a friend of mine says she always gets fawned over at stores by the salespeople, but when I go there I get JACK. Really makes me want to spend my money there *sarcasm*. I applaud you for thinking of the normal people!

    • Anon

      Smart girl!

    • Anon

      Smart girl!

  • http://twitter.com/meghatron14 meghan

    When did TC turn into a blog?

    • Catt

      When did leaving an original comment on TC turn into an impossible dream?

      • Mr Shankly

        When did leaving an original comment on TC turn into an impossible dream?

      • Beef Turkey

        when did everything begin turning into something else? 

      • aa

        When did we all become so annoying? It’s the internet, shut up.

      • http://www.oneyearintexas.com Perfect Circles

        I love leaving comments on TC!

    • Caroline

       this is one the best pieces I’ve seen on here, in both content and style.  shush.

  • http://twitter.com/nestevian888 Brooklyn

    “..although she is a size 2 and four inches taller than me. Whatever..”  .. envious of a tall girl thats a size 2? ewww

  • Guest

    I hope that one day, being comfortable with yourself will become popular/cool. I really like this article! :)

  • Ingloria

    why would you buy $255 worth of stuff at a store that made you uncomfortable?

    • Brianne

      that is a great question and one I can’t answer.While I admit I felt discouraged while IN the store, I did find a few items that fit well and that I liked. But I don’t think I’ll ever go back.

  • dwp

    “I headed to a recently-opened boutique dripping with fashion-blog hype, and while I won’t divulge the name, I will say this much: the store is originally from Canada and recently opened in SoHo.”
    Either say it or don’t. Hinting like this is juvenile and pretentious and not interesting writing.

  • chloe

    I love this article! Although it frustrates me that you feel bad about your body, even though it’s really hard not to when surrounded by women that are considered most beautiful by today’s standards…But even though really tall and thin women are gorgeous, so are women with more volumptuous bodies. Every healthy body is lovely.

  • lowselfesteem-'r'-us

    i knew this was about aritzia from the first paragraph in. that store is for babies. i am a healthy, fit 25-year-old and i still feel like a giant when i walk in. 

    also, i will never, ever believe that there are enough “naturally thin” adult women out there to sustain clothing stores like this one. 

    • Don't Buy me Flowers

      New York Girls: stay away from Aritzia! It’s the worst, you don’t need it!!

  • steph

    brianne garcia let’s be bffs.

  • Anonymous

    I thought this was going to be funny, but once you started dissing those “faceless jiggly muffin-tops” I was done. Because obviously people who aren’t above a size 8 can’t have good body image, be happy about the way they look, or buy clothes. So I didn’t read.

    • Anon

      Try actually reading what she said. It’s about how she gauges herself, not other people.

  • Lily Kathanou

    “would my stomach be one of the faceless jiggly muffin-tops that makes the viewer cringe”- brilliant!

  • Anonymous

    tinyurl.com/24n4nqb

  • http://twitter.com/hereticaneue Heretica Neue

    Oops, hit reply too fast.

  • Allison

    I get the whole “love the body you have!” thing, but why does it not apply to thin women? Why can’t that “obviously anorexic” girl live without being criticized and judged for her weight?  The whole “real women have curves” thing is bullshit because all women are real women, even if they’re thin.  Deal with it.

    • Sarah

      ok so I’m pushing 5’9″ and I weight about 122 pounds. I’m a size 2, usually. I can still fit into a few old pairs of 0’s–usually those are more too short rather than too tight.

      I am so fucking sick of this “omg if she wears a size zero she must be anorexic she obviously doesn’t eat. i eat and i enjoy it so who cares if i’m heavier than her, i’m the better woman” attitude. really, it’s everywhere.

      1) fuck you. i eat. a lot. and not all health food, big half pound burgers and huge plates of fries and all that. you don’t know me.

      2) even if i were anorexic, would that make me less of a person than you? it shouldn’t. different strokes for different folks, etc.

      • Allison

        Exactly!  You obviously have a higher metabolism/are more active/are naturally thin and it’s not a big deal.  I’m thin too and it’s offensive when people think they’re better than me for having a different shape.

        And I hate when people don’t realise that EDs affect people of all sizes. My friend is bigger (probably a size 10 or 12?) and she has anorexia, but people assuume it’s not possible since she’s not skinny.  All these misconceptions are dangerous and only contribute to the stigma around people who actually need help with eating disorders.

      • Allison

        Exactly!  You obviously have a higher metabolism/are more active/are naturally thin and it’s not a big deal.  I’m thin too and it’s offensive when people think they’re better than me for having a different shape.

        And I hate when people don’t realise that EDs affect people of all sizes. My friend is bigger (probably a size 10 or 12?) and she has anorexia, but people assuume it’s not possible since she’s not skinny.  All these misconceptions are dangerous and only contribute to the stigma around people who actually need help with eating disorders.

      • Guest

        In order to be anorexic one has to weigh less than 85% of one’s recommended body weight.  You’re friend cannot be anorexic while simultaneously wearing a size 10 or 12.

      • Guest

        A extremely low BMI is only one criteria for the diagnosis of an ED.  Anorexia nervosa, like bulimia nervosa, is a psychological disorder and it is completely possible to suffer from either while still being at what is considered a normal weight or size.

      • Guest
  • Allison

    I get the whole “love the body you have!” thing, but why does it not apply to thin women? Why can’t that “obviously anorexic” girl live without being criticized and judged for her weight?  The whole “real women have curves” thing is bullshit because all women are real women, even if they’re thin.  Deal with it.

  • JLP

    I’m sick of reading Thought Catalog posts where women pretend to be above body-image problems while projecting their body-image problems.

    …oh, wait, that’s, like, every third post in Thought Catalog lately. Maybe I should just stop reading Thought Catalog

  • http://twitter.com/jemmehlee Jamie ❤ 。◕

    I think Artizia is anal about their stuff being stolen than encouraging anorexic with communal mirrors. They even make you lock up your bag!

    And so what if you try on a pair of shorts that might not look good? Thats why you’re trying them!!

    • http://twitter.com/msbrieb Brie Berry

      Actually, they only make you lock up your bag in the Canadian stores – I was both offended and annoyed when they told me that.

      I should tell you though, the Soho Aritzia is the only one that I’ve been to that has soooo many teeny tiny girls. The one I worked and others I frequented in Toronto always have 2-3 girls who range from “a little bigger” to one fat and fabulous diva.

      That being said, it was awkward walking in and realizing I knew about 4 of the staff members from Canada…

      I dropped $100 on a shirt and skirt that they no longer carry in our stores…I should be upset, but I couldn’t resist.

  • itsme_eloise

    “How am I supposed to really scrutinize an item of clothing if I can’t openly strike poses and bend over and pretend to flirt in the privacy of my own personal space?”THIS.

  • Bridget

    BAHAHAHAHAHA. The title of this article is priceless. Also my BIGGEST pet peeve with Aritzia. One I have complained about on a regular basis.

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