Shopping for a different perspective

clothing rack_Richard Masoner

CC some rights reserved Photo by Richard Masoner

You know when you need to go shopping. When you’re rotating three pairs of slacks and two pairs of jeans and deciding between two pairs of shoes each morning, you know there isn’t enough variation in your wardrobe. It’s a wonder I haven’t heard freshmen snickering about “didn’t she just wear that a few days ago?”

I hate shopping.

For one thing, I hate to spend money when there are so many places it seems to need to be put. For another, I don’t find things that fit me easily.

But I recently set aside some clothes shopping money. It’s spring, I had some time, I need clothes for work and I need clothes for my son’s wedding in a couple months. So, living in a rural city with little in the way of clothing stores, my husband and I set out for “the City” this afternoon, an hour and a half away.

We arrived at the mall and I entered store after store looking for their petites. The ones that had them had items I either didn’t like or that still didn’t fit me. The smaller stores offered to order for me. Hell, I can do that. My frustration grew. I’ve never been a “shopper”. Probably because I’ve almost always been hard to fit. I’m not quite five feet tall (and have probably begun to shrink already), and with three grown sons, I’ve given myself permission to not self-loathe about the 20 or so pounds I’ve put on in 10 years. I’m a 51-year-old teacher and I look kind of like one. It’s OK until I try to go clothes shopping. And shoes! I’ve always had narrow, small feet, but go ahead – add some arthritis to one of my feet that makes many styles quite uncomfortable. That’ll make it even harder to find anything to fit. And pretty? Fugeddaboutit.

The spouse kept trying to be optimistic. He’d point out yet another shop with bright colors and small looking clothes. Lots of folks get small and petite mixed up. I’m short, not small (though I used to be). He was so patient.

I don’t know how many stores I entered, got frustrated and left, but my temper was getting hot. When I finally saw a basic JC Penney down the way, I felt some relief. They always have stuff for short people, and here in the north part of the city, the selection is bound to be pretty good.

Nope. Nothing I was looking for. I’m telling you, nothing was right for me. Nothing fit. Nothing was in a style that was remotely me. I actually felt like crying, but I’m a big girl and that would be ridiculous. My little 27-inch inseams and I stormed out of that store and into the mall. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. My husband had to rush to catch up with me and didn’t quite know how to handle my mood. Can’t blame him. I felt mad and silly.

And that was just about clothes. How do students feel when they sit in our classrooms and everything that is happening seems to be made for the “average student”? And there we are, we teachers, coaxing, “just try it, you can do it.” Do they feel as frustrated as I did? Do they want to storm out of the room sometimes? Do they have to hold back tears sometimes? Or have they gotten used to it, having to deal with such difficulties day after day instead of maybe once in the fall and once in the spring?

I need specialty stores with good pricing. They need differentiation that doesn’t cost them their self esteem.

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About teachjournalism
I am a high school teacher of journalism, technology and reading. I advise the school's newspaper and yearbook, both student-led publications. Documenting and sharing my experiences is a way of reflecting to improve my own work and and inviting commentary so that we might all benefit. I believe, as I tell my students each year, that we all learn from each other.

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