Thursday, October 16, 2008

Size is Relative

Until I hit my 30s, I was officially “skinny”. I was called “Skinny Little Bitch” on more than just a few occasions from some of my larger acquaintances, a weird way of complimenting me I suppose. Assuming that this style of compliment is acceptable, I shouted “You big fat whore!” to a woman in a parking lot who almost ran over my son one day. Strangely, she did not find this flattering and took another lap around the parking lot in order to flip me the finger, which I graciously replied in kind. That’s when I noticed this nice daddy right next to me. He had an alarmed look on his face and was quickly shuffling his children into their SUV to be safely away from the “Crazy Lady.” I felt a little embarrassed and shouted “Sorry!” but mostly I felt good just to let it out. Sorry kids. This event took place in my neighborhood grocery store parking lot and I’ll just bet that every time that daddy sees me, he ducks down and whispers to the other parents in the elementary school parking lot the story of the woman with Tourette Syndrome.

Tell me why Skinny Little Bitch is more acceptable than Big Fat Whore? There are a lot of skinny haters out there. I have a dear friend who just had a baby and she was in great shape for the entire pregnancy, so she naturally snapped back into shape about four weeks after she had her little baby. Well, this just drove 90% of the female population around here crazy with jealousy. Not me, though. Perhaps it’s because of the gift she gave me.

She called me one day to see if I’d like some of her old pants she can’t wear anymore. Well, I just love her style and I’ve had some luck with her hand-me-downs before. So I said “sure.” Then she muttered her confession that these were actually her maternity pants. “What? You cannot expect me to wear your maternity pants!” She assured me that they did not look like maternity pants and she insisted that I at least try them on. When she brought them over that afternoon, I was skeptical. There was one pair that had an honest-to-God stretchy panel in front. “Jesus Christ! There is no way I’ll wear these.” Then she pleaded and pressed my vanity button. “Please, just try them on, they’ll look great on you.” I begrudgingly agreed just to prove her wrong. To my horror and astonishment, she was right. I didn’t want to keep them but they just made my butt look so great and I cannot pass up that opportunity no matter what. Plus, if I roll down the stretchy panel in front, it just feels so soft and supportive. They are now my official PMS/Eating pants. I think they’d also make great hiking pants, because I could just carry all kinds of stuff in there like a water bottle, iPod, keys, sandwich, spare socks, ad infinitum. I can also tuck my shirt inside and pull the panel way up to my bra and I look like this schizophrenic woman who used to walk around downtown on Thorazine.

A couple of years ago, when I visited Hungary and France, that’s when I became fully aware of being a freaky giant. I’m not kidding either, I’m 5’10” and I was soaring over all the men by at least half a baguette. I brought with me only two pairs of shoes: high-heeled boots that made me 6' tall and a pair of running shoes. Both of these shoes only heightened my insecurities about being a big oaf. When I walked through the streets, I felt like there should be a kettle drum behind me … Boom, boom, Boom, boom! In Europe, gym shoes are for the gym. Otherwise, you look like a big dorky American tourist with no class or style with your jeans and sneakers. It’s sort of the equivalent of wearing acid wash jeans and a Members Only jacket to an opera.

I was planning on buying a pair of European shoes upon my arrival. That would be my “treat” for my feet. In these two countries the customer service is not what we’re used to here. In America, we are practically offered hand-jobs just for walking through the front door. “Hi, I’m Mandy and if you have any questions or need any help with sizes, or colors, or fabrics, or washing, or cooking, or anything – anything at all, I’ll help you. Just please God, ask for me by name because I’m the one who greeted you and DON’T forget my name. M.A.N.D.Y. Here’s my card, my cell phone number, and my picture in case you forget what I look like by the time you get to the counter. Don’t forget, that’s Mandy rhymes with ‘Candy’ hee hee hee!”

I walked into a Paris shoe store with my hidious jeans and sneakers. I probably had spinach in my teeth and a piece of toilet paper coming out of the top of my pants too. I weighed more than I’d ever weighed, except during pregnancy. The saleswoman was a beautiful petite French woman with tussled black hair and a couture pantsuit. She looked at me as if I’d tracked dog shit into her store. A total possibility since there are no laws or manners about picking up your dog’s shit in France.

In America, women will look me up and down in order to determine who's the alpha. In Paris, they looked me up and down in order to keep their distance so that they wouldn't catch my ickyness. I used my fingers to tell her what size I wear. I held up four fingers on my left hand, and two fingers on my right. Size 42, that’s 10 in America. She sniffed the air and pointed toward the men’s department. I felt so ashamed of myself, like I’d just asked for creme for a scorching case of ass herpes or something. Store after store I searched for shoes that would help me feel less like the star of a monster movie but guess what? They don’t make shoes for gargantuan women in France, or Hungary for that matter.

When I returned back to America and complained about feeling like Big Bird in France, my husband suggested that next time I travel to Germany where people are large. So, you see its not what size you wear, its simply that you might be in the wrong country. I'll be packing my maternity hiking pants.


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  2. I made the mistake of getting fitted for a bra at La Perla in Paris once. I have never before felt grotesque for having 34DD breasts, but the petite Parisian saleswoman was clearly repulsed by my rack. She suggested that they didn't make bras that large in France. Now, I've been to the south of France, and I've seen some real porkers there, so I know they make big bras. At least I think they do. None of the women were wearing them on the topless beach (!), but I assume they had SOMETHING to wear under their clothes. But they didn't get it at La Perla.

  3. It's funny how geographic expectations of women's size is. I used to be a fashion model. Just a regular model in San Francisco, nothing outstanding. Standards here are skinny, of course, but go to New York and you must be thinner. Go to Paris and you have to be thinner than in New York. It's a bit of a joke in the industry.


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