Everyday, unless I’m wearing a t-shirt and jeggings, it takes me at least 20 minutes, 3 outfit changes, and 4 accessory tries to be satisfied with my outfit for the day. But even then, sometimes I’ll get to work, look in the mirror and think “oh god, what was I thinking… I hate this outfit. It’s definitely not cute on me. Oh god, are my hips really that wide?” For the last few days at work, I’ve felt like quite the hypocrite. I’m very much one of those people that loves to dole out advice to others and never take it for myself. As I’ve heard people say, advice is much easier given than taken and that’s so true. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Working in the plus size and petite size departments of Nordstrom, my daily responsibilities as a sales person representing Nordstrom’s top notch customer service require me to comment on not the ‘average’ women’s bodies all day long convincing women that their bodies look fine in the clothing that they’ve tried on while also recommending different looks and styles and rejecting unflattering pieces by pointing out what it emphasizes. When I just started, I approached fitting room situations rather hesitantly. I mean, what do you say when a woman tries on a top that’s too small, knows its unflattering, and asks you for your ‘expert’ opinion. Do you say, yeah it makes your stomach look huge or your arm stick out like drumsticks? Or what do you say when a woman adamantly tells you to stop kidding with her because there is no way she can wear that, it’ll show her (insert problem area). Are you just going to be like, “yeah, it does, sorry?” No. First, although it puts you in an awkward position, Nordstrom doesn’t insult its customers so you have to divert the conversation and second, it’s bad for sales. It’s not that I don’t want to be honest with my customers and not tell them what didn’t look good, I just don’t want to do it in an insensitive way. But after a couple weeks, I’ve found a couple key words phrases that I can rely on when addressing these situations. ‘Age-appropriate’, ‘flatters this, but not that’, ‘it’s fashionable’, ‘how do you feel about the fit/size’ have all become stables in my vocabulary. When I’m shopping around the department with these women, so many of them tell me what they find wrong with their bodies and what they want to hide. Some hate their midsection, some hate their neck and chin fat, some hate how petite sizes are still too big for them (this actually is a problem because petite women look drowned in misses sizes) and most people in both departments really dislike their arms and won’t wear anything sleeveless. At first, my thoughts were like, “Why are you being so difficult?! Why won’t you just try it?!” Well, maybe that was just my feet speaking after standing for 5 or 6 hours. But like dealing with the fitting room situations, I’ve started to perfect phrases to respond to people on the floor when they tell me all their problem areas such as “miss, we all have our problem areas”, “we just gotta make do with what God gave us”, and especially this last one “you can be fashionable at any age and any size,” in order to get them to try the clothes on. While that might just sound like my only goal is to just ‘sell, sell, sell’, I’d like to think that I really do try to pick out nice things that I think would look good for my customer. And the truth is, a lot of times, those items end up looking really good and super flattering, elegant, or trendy on them. Now here’s basically where the hypocrisy comes in. I spend all day telling both women that are double my size and half my size that they look great in different clothes and I’m not lying. I’m absolutely telling them the truth. They look fantastic! The fit is great, the color is great, the price is a little expensive for me, but hey if you got it, use it. But quite often, many of my customers are so focused in on their problem areas that they don’t allow themselves to believe me when I give them my opinion on pieces. This is when it kind of hit me the other day when I was finishing up with a customer in the fitting rooms… we over scrutinize way too much when in actuality, we’re all fine just the way we are, in the bodies that we have and need to accept that. For once, we shouldn’t be that careful when we look in the mirror. Just because the media has set up a smokescreen around the mirror that makes it difficult to see the truth, don’t get too close to the mirror, it’s not a big deal. As I mentioned earlier, even I have always had body issues with various aspects of my body. For as long as I can remember I’ve hated my thunder thighs, flabby arms, and big feet and have not been willing to wear spaghetti straps, certain jeans, and flats. I thought with my body, business dresses will never look good on me, I’m way too wide and short for them. It looks like I’m drowning in them. But more and more I’m starting to realize that it’s truly not something I should be freaking out over because first, everybody can find great fashionable styles that work for them, and secondly, really, no one else probably thinks its really that big of a problem except for me. Even though I’m not at a point where I can look at the mirror and not point out various parts of my body that I think I need to improve on, I’m definitely getting there and starting to believe that problem areas are only problem areas when you allow them to be. So to answer my own question earlier, “no my hips are not too wide, I think I look great, good job Linda.” And I bet you looked great too!