Thank you for voting for me! You rock, as usual. It appears that voting is still open, apparently through today.
This week, I'm reposting some of my favorite stories from the early days. Since only five people read this blog for the first six months of its existence, it's pretty safe to say that for most of you, this stuff will be new.
Church is always a place of deep soul searching, inspiration, and personal reflection and revelation. My visit last Sunday was no exception. Before one of the meetings, a woman from my congregation approached me with some exciting news. She had been shopping earlier that week at Dress Barn and had found several outfits that had my name written all over them.
This news concerned me for a number of reasons, the least of which was its source: a woman twice my age. What bothered me most about the woman's comment was the fact that it had the words "Dress Barn" in it. I have seen Dress Barns at the mall and in strip malls across the country, but I have never actually been inside one. I'm sure that the clothing that they sell there is perfectly nice, but on principle I refuse to shop at a store whose title is linked by word association to the terms udder, trough, and manure.
Aside from my personal opinions about a specific clothing store, my conversation with the women at church on Sunday got me thinking: at what point in a woman's life does it become advisable, and even mandatory that she shop at a place like Dress Barn? While I can't imagine how signing a credit card slip with the words "Dress Barn" printed across the top doesn't result in the loss of some personal dignity, I have started to realize that the stores that I frequent may very well signal that I've already lost it. Lured by the promise of its moniker, I went to "Forever 21" the other day looking for some summer blouses. I was extremely disturbed to discover, however, that the shirts that fit and looked the best had "L's" and "XL's" stamped onto their collars. When I complained about the "weird sizing" to the store clerk, she broke the news in as tactful a way as a junior college student could that A) I was not 21 B) I did not have the body of one either. The hipless salesgirl didn't need to tell me where I belonged; the parade of stroller-pushing moms rolling furiously toward the clearance rack at Ann Taylor Loft said it for her.
I have been in Ann Taylor Loft enough times to know that it is magical place where size 8's wear 4's and everyone is "petite." The cleanliness, orderliness, and overall classiness of this store and its relatives (Banana Republic, The Limited, etc) is, however, partly what scares me about them. You are what you wear, and I don't know if I'm ready to commit at this point in my life to being a clean, orderly, classy person.
The day that I lay my Charlotte Russe wardrobe to rest will also be the day, I fear, when I agree to not let my hair grow past my shoulders. Like clothing style, hair-length is an irreversible decision. Once you cut it, there's no going back. In fact, once you join the legion of middle-aged women who "go short," you're on the fast track to the Little Orphan Annie perm sported by every grandmother in America. At least that's what I fear. I'm not looking forward to that day, but fortunately, I don't have to make that decision by myself. I've enlisted the help of my twenty-nine- year-old super stylish hairdresser to tell me when I've pushed the teen envelope too far. She says that I have a year or two at most. By then, though, she'll be my age and most likely will be in the midst of her own mid-life crisis. I may not be able to trust her judgment.
It stinks to be a tween.
Originally published 4/2/08