I Have Learned to Hate Dressing Rooms

Three mirrors, four walls, and a bright fluorescent light overhead haunted my childhood as I grew up. I would close the lock behind me with some confidence in the clothes I chose from the Old Navy or Target, gaining excitement for the new back to school outfits. I put on the new shirt or a fresh pair of blue jeans and feel the feeling of despair hit me square in the chest.

Shopping is my worst enemy, and it has always been, and it always will.

I distinctly remember my first bad experience in a dressing room shopping for clothes with my mom when I was around 12 or 13-years-old. I picked out some pieces and headed to the back of the Old Navy and went into a dressing room. I felt great in the clothes, but with no sense of fashion or awareness of how I actually looked, I called for my mom to come to see my new outfit. But when I opened the door, a feeling of disappointment fell upon her face. Her words hit me like a train:

“You need to lose weight. We will work on that this summer. We will start exercising and eating better. No more sodas or sweets.”

I believed her. I truly did. Sure, I was a little pudgy in the middle, but for a five-foot seven-inch teenage girl, I thought I looked okay. Her words stuck with me for years, as it kept happening every time we went shopping for clothes, bathing suits, prom dresses, anything. 

And every time, I would feel like I disappointed her for being the way that I am.

Now, every time I step into a dressing room, I nit-pick at all my flaws. The cellulite, the acne marks, literally everything. It has grown from the small rolls on my stomach to the small bumps on my cheeks, the small white stretch marks on my hips, and the springy short hairs that failed to stay flat on my head. From just a comment about my weight, I pointed out all the things I hated about myself and grew up hating my appearance all the time.

Girls shouldn’t grow up in a world where they feel uncomfortable in their own skin. For the longest time, I listened to my mom tell me to lose weight. But after a while, I understood that she wanted the best for me, even if it was expressed in such a way that scarred me for my childhood. 

Ladies, don’t body shame other people. If we really wanted to share love and positivity and bring each other up, we wouldn’t shame women for how they look or talk behind their backs or writing horrible comments on each other’s Instagram posts. 

What we should be doing is celebrating the diversity of body types different from us. We should share love instead of sharing body-shaming comments. The world has already made it difficult for women to feel comfortable in their own skin. We don’t need to throw a lighted match to an already burning field. Embrace the differences of people around you, whether it be their body shape, the color of their skin, their faith, or anything that makes them uniquely them.

Love on your stretch marks, your cellulite, your big thighs, your big stomach and everything in between. Know that you are beautiful exactly the way you are.