I was in a furniture store recently and two friends were walking around picking up things and putting a room together. They were having fun selecting items they wanted to use to decorate the client’s space. One turned to the other and said, “I’m glad we have aged and shop for furniture and knick knacks now, instead of jeans and bathing suits….that was torture, this is fun!” I actually laughed outloud when I heard that comment, and was glad that I was not the only one who felt that way. 
For many women this is the worst place on earth – the fitting room in a women’s clothing store. They dread trying to buy clothes that fit. Anything off the rack assumes you have a generic figure, very few curves, and that what is currently in fashion will look good on your figure. It also assumes you want to look like everyone else and that the clothes made for the masses will satisfy your personal style. Any woman who has tried on any piece of clothing in one of these spaces knows the turmoil it can cause. It isn’t bad enough that the clothes may or may not fit; if they don’t look the way you want it can get into your head and leave scars. All that from a dressing room? That’s crazy! And yet millions of women feel this way everyday. 

Through media, television, newspapers, magazines and the internet we have told women what is beautiful, what is desired, what is attractive. Did you know that over 70% of women in America dye their hair?  That most girls find themselves unattractive in front of a mirror by the age of ten? When we tell them what we value, we have left out the most important message, the most important part…what does she think is beautiful, desirable, attractive? We want to put her in a box that we defined, never bothering to ask what she has to offer. She is told her value is in how she looks not in who she is…

Every woman has something worthwhile and of value for the world, and yet all they may see is a pair of pants that bulge in all the wrong places. They see a hair color that isn’t quite attractive enough. They see a young girl who is ugly and no boy will ever like. They see the external picture compared to what they see in the world. Some of us are able to overcome the fitting room pressure and embrace ourselves. As adults we learn that no one is perfect, no one’s figure fits every dress, and we learn to face our body image and find beauty in what we have. But the ugliness of the public beauty image can come back to haunt us when we try on a dress for that special occasion, and nothing fits. 

It is time to wrestle the fitting room demons and leave them at the store. Embrace who you are and what beauty you have inside and out. It is time to clothe ourselves in what we want and express ourselves, whether it has to be altered, designed, or shopped for in fourteen different stores. The value we bring as women cannot be found in a dressing room. Our value and beauty is only found when we feel secure in our talents, skills, and abilities and put them to work everyday making our world a better place. Leave your demons in the fitting room just like those bulging pants…move on, get out of there, and shop somewhere else. Your beauty will never be contained by a pair of mass produced pants.