Monday, February 11

Moral Support or Ray Saves the Day

I hate shopping.

See this picture? This is not me, and that was never any of my three daughters. Even the coming-of-age shopping for the first bra was a memorable moment for my girls that never had me in it. Their Daddy took them shopping. It is not just an issue of lacking patience or imagination or whatever else might be the reason an American female would reject the National pastime. It might be a phobia.

An anthropological approach to shopping could possibly develop into a very worthy discussion about marketing, surplus resources, portable medium of exchange and distribution. There has already been much to-do about our high-pressure cultural expectations of what a woman should look like, and as a result what goods and services are necessary to sustain that image-lust. Unfortunately, not all of the social pressure is just talk.

Feminists blame it on Barbie, but a 100 years before her voluptuous plastic debut women were squeezing into whalebone corsets accented by cartoonish hoop skirts pursuing the Scarlet O'Hara 18" waist. To heck with Slavery and States rights, the Civil War was obviously fought to protect Southern women's shopping rights. It was a girl-thing.

Hollywood types (current child-custody-psyche-ward headliners excepted) promote the ideal shopping image without breaking a sweat. Terry Hatcher is almost my age; she looks amazing. See the relaxed, happy body language of mother and daughter fresh on the trail of another successful shopping adventure together.

When I go shopping, I do break a sweat - and an elevated heart rate, hyperventilation and some public tears to cap off a really crappy experience that I vow to avoid again for a really long time. But I have to go shopping now - we're going to visit Robin in Seattle; and I don't fit into my other pants.

There seems to be a lot of self-image issues that contaminate
the shopping ritual beyond what is emotionally tolerable.

My shopping companion last Saturday was 13 year old Rachel. When I was ready to give up in utter humiliation after trying on the 7th pair of jeans, she said in her best soothing voice, "Hey Mom, just think: you're not half as fat as a lot of other ladies!" My primal wail sent her running out of the dressing room with instructions to "hold on" ~ she would go find me things to try on. She returned in a flash with an armload of really decent selections, no kidding. I was impressed and touched by her eagerness to take control of my melt-down.

She un-clipped a swell pair of Dockers from the hanger for me, chattering away about how she was sure they would be flattering. She offered her opinion the navy ones were preferred to the khaki. When we were eyeing results in the mirror, she kept a fashion show running-commentary on the positive aspects of the style, the cut, or the decorative top-stitching of each item. When I tried on her choice of jeans and turned around for the inevitable question of how the back-side looked, she was quick to interject that the pockets must be appealing - they were the thing that made my "butt hot". Before I could absorb this, she spanked my rear and said, "See? Totally hot, mom!"

I made the purchase.


Heidi said...

Ha! I can totally see Rachel telling you what a hot back-side you have :) What a fun daughter.

Maybe the reason you don't like shopping is because you're going when you HAVE to find something. I also get frustrated when I go with a goal in mind--it never seems like anything looks the way I had pictured in my mind.

Anonymous said...

You are right! I've never thought about it like that before! I build up an anxiety about going shopping weeks before taking the plunge, and by then there's usually an event deadline too close to allow a casual approach.

I think I found a dress for Robin's wedding only 2 weeks before the date. That was cutting it much too close...

Yaj said...

It has been a long time since a 13 year old told me how hot MY butt looks... well, it might be forever. Sitting on the radiator in my grandmother's kitchen beside the rising dough made my hiney pretty hot. Does that count?

rachel said...

Haha I love Rachel :)

Cynthia said...

Going shopping with a 13 year old has the potential of crushing your total collected self esteem from your adult life.
Therefore, it appears that you have raised a MARVELOUS daughter. She is fun fun fun.
Can I borrow her next time I need to do some shopping?

Anonymous said...

Brilliant! Let's do a daughter-swap: I'll take Mel and you get Ray.

If these girls were smart about this, I'd say there's quite a lucrative niche for a little 'shopping daughter for hire' business; they select your correct size in trendy styles and make you feel happy about it while calling you "mom" in public without asking for something! All you have to do is get comfortable in the fitting room and let the girls do the rest. Ha!

(You notice I am not recommending Asia as a shopping companion...she would be like the Simon Cowell of shopping nightmares)