Dressing Room Wars

I went shopping with my 14 year old sister yesterday. First of all, let me say that I am very glad I am not 14 years old. I’m sure the styles were just as outrageous back in…1997?

But wow is it hard to find something stylish that doesn’t reveal everything to the world. But that’s really not the point of this post.

Shopping with my 14 year old sister brought back memories of hundreds of “dressing room wars” between me and my mom. It’s amazing that she ever took me shopping at all. I can’t tell you how many shopping trips ended up with me yelling, crying or throwing clothes. (Although my husband might tell you that still happens on occasion when I’m trying to get ready for work in the morning…)

We were at Plato’s Closet yesterday (BEST place to shop with a teenager, by the way) and a mom and daughter were in the dressing room next to us having a knock down drag out much like I used to initiate with my poor mother. The daughter yelled at her mother for bringing her something in a size Large – “I’M NOT A LARGE!!! I’VE NEVER BEEN A LARGE!!!” The mother, obviously frustrated and fed up, tried her best to assuage the situation butย her attempts at explaining that her daughter is just “a little bigger than she used to be” just didn’t fly in the daughter’s mind.

While I admit that clothing sizes still affect me way more than they should, I remember having a paradigm shift in the way I looked at clothes shopping. I think it happened about the time that stores started coming out with “curvy” fit pants. I never have and never will fit into a “regular” fit pair of pants. If they’re big enough to fit over my backside, they have room for another person around the waist. You might remember that from my post about wearing “Mom Jeans.”


I finally realized that maybe I wasn’t “too fat” or “too big” in all the wrong places for a certain piece of clothing. Instead, I started thinking about clothing and the fact that it “wasn’t cut right.”

I know it might sound like a small change in thinking, but it proved to be huge for me. Suddenly the fault of a pair of clothing not fitting fell on an inanimate object of cloth, rather than somehow being a failure of some type on my part. There are thousands of body shapes and sizes out there – it is impossible for every piece of clothing to fit every person perfectly. Absolutely impossible. And just because something is “cut right” for my twig of a friend with no hips, it doesn’t mean that somehow I have fallen short because it doesn’t fit me.

I wish I could go back in time and tell that to my 14 year old self.

But then again, my almost 30 year old self probably needs to hear it every now and then too.

Have you ever engaged in any “dressing room wars”? Or am I the only 14 year old who had regular meltdowns while shopping?


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16 Responses to Dressing Room Wars

  1. I used to hate swimsuit shopping with my mom b/c everything I tried on was “too revealing” and “your dad would never let you out of the house”. I couldn’t help it I was 12 and looked 18. I HATED it!

  2. OMG yes, I remember those days of dressing room wars! And I definitely agree, you should never let clothes and sizes dictate how you feel about your body.

  3. I have a 15 year old and I can totally agree about so many things being too revealing. That is usually where our war starts, my daughter is top heavy and it seems like everything she grabs is about showing it off. I’m constantly telling her no and of course she gets mad. We have left the stores empty handed on more than one occasion.

  4. I still hate shopping for jeans. I’m on the opposite end, I have a gut and no butt… so jeans will either fit my waist and I’ll have a saggy butt area, or I get the worst muffin top! I’d trade for having a booty and a too big waist anytime! I’ve been thinking about ordering custom fit jeans or something because they never fit right.

  5. Jennifer

    As a consistent blog reader I am hurt by the mention at the end of your post where you say “just because my twig of a friend with no hips”- I know girls who struggle with this issue take a phrase like that just as hard as the girl in the other dresssing who is worried about the jeans being too tight. Thank you.

    • You are SO right – and this is a perfect example of me not thinking before I speak (or type). Thank you for pointing it out to me. Sometimes it’s easy to get focused on the “issues” that affect US and forget about the struggles that others are going through that may be very different from our own. I appreciate you taking the time to remind me of that and I am so sorry for saying something that came across as hurtful in any way!

      • Jennifer

        I am sure you did not intend for it to be hurtful but I think the main thing to remember and I think is reinforced even with other viwers comments is that the grass is always going to be greener esp. when it comes to body types. No harm done. Thanks for the reply.

  6. Shopping used to be the worst. I have so many memories of tears of frustration and sadness when the clothes that fit my willowy friends didn’t fit me. Ugh, anyone else remember those hideous Limited Too NEON PLAID kilts?! In retrospect, I should have been thrilled those didn’t work on me! I’ve finally pretty much made peace with the dressing room. I’m healthy and awesome, if the pants don’t fit me, it’s just because they’re lame ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Kathy

    My daughter is now 16… still a pain to shop with… it started when she was about 13, and started YELLING at me in an upscale store. Knowing I would never have done that to my mom (or maybe I did & I just forgot about it), I politely asked “do you need some chocolate?” She screamed “YES! I NEED CHOCOLATE!” It was as if all the clerks nodded in agreement. They knew what it was like to shop with a teenager with hormonal surges….

  8. Pretty sure my mom still shudders when thinking of jean shopping. I would take armfuls into the dressing room only to leave them all behind. It became a huge celebration if I brought a pair …and many bursts of frustration (from both) when I didn’t. She never really objected to what I brought but shopping is probably where I tested her patience the most – I would get so worked up frustrated when I couldn’t fill out a top or whenever pair of pants would give leave a gap. Luckily I found a brand of jeans that works so I stick with them.

  9. I made that exact same paradigm shift a few years ago. Last year, I tried on 38 pairs of jeans to find two that fit MY curvy shape (Seven is great and they’re $18 at TJ Maxx if you can find them) and didn’t actually feel bad about myself, because I, too, was searching for fit instead of a perfect body. It’s just not worth it to let the dressing room kill your day, says the girl who used to have an eating disorder. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Yes, excellent post! As an overweight child I never could shop in the tween sections and it absolutely crushed me to literally not fit in. Learning to disconnect from a number or letter on the tag was the first step in me learning to disconnect from society’s measurements and to define my own as I began my health journey.

  11. I still have meltdowns sometimes! Finding a bra or bathing suit that fits and is flattering, while still holding up “the girls” (100+ pound weight loss and three babies… they’re in SAD shape). It’s enough to make me cry sometimes.

  12. I remember yelling at my mom in the dressing room at that age, too. Halfway through high school I realized that most of the things I disliked about my body were due to bone structure/build (I have a really short torso, a wide rib cage, and wide shoulders) and that I could do nothing to change those things. It was the way I was made, so why feel upset about it? It took awhile, but I’ve now realized that the size/number on the tag in my clothes means nothing. I wear completely different sizes at different stores b/c they cut their clothes differently. I also find the whole idea that a manufacturer makes clothes cut to fit a random average person, and then we have to try to fit into something that wasn’t made specifically for us completely weird! Crazy if you think about it. Also, I find it funny that I have absolutely no curves/hips, yet the curvy style jeans always fit me best. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  14. Hey there! I think I read this post when you first posted it (can’t believe I’ve been following that long!) but just wanted to stop by and let you know — I saved this post. I look back on it now and then. I had never thought of it this way. It took a while for it to become ingrained in my mind, to really start thinking this way when I’m in the trenches of a dressing room with a mile high stack of clothes that didn’t work. But I have started thinking this way, and it’s so freeing.

    Recently posted on my blog and linked to this post because I think it’s that great. Just wanted to let you know!

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