Retail Therapist: Changing rooms blues
No matter how much you try to fight it, no matter how much you once swore to yourself it would not happen, somehow we all end up like our mothers.
Sometimes I hear myself saying things that are so instantly recognisable as my mum’s words it makes me catch my breath.
I had one such incident this week, when trying to get one of my offspring to speedily try on a dress in the middle of a (in my defence) not busy shop.
As she cringed and shrunk into herself, complaining that people would see her pants (they wouldn’t) I heard my mum hiss; “Oh, for pete’s sake – no one is interested in looking at you.”
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And there I was, back in an instant, to those red-faced days when it was me who was reluctantly stripped down to her vest in order to “pop” something on in the middle of a shop.
In all honesty, I was a lot more discreet that my mum, who could never be bothered with changing rooms – even for herself. Although – thankfully for my embarrassed 10-year-old self - she would always remain fully clothed, she never saw a problem in cheerfully pulling a dress over her head or slipping into a jumper or two on the shop floor. I don’t remember her ever going so far as to trying on a pair of jeans in full view but I would not have put it past her.
Of course, back in those days we were all somehow expected to be happily immodest: communal changing rooms were rife – particularly among the trendy shops aimed squarely at the teenage market. I can still remember the sinking feeling as you walked into a changing room only to be met with an octopus of scantily clad arms and legs. There was always that dreadful fear that everyone would be there to witness the humiliation of a zipper that would not close or a top that got stuck on your head as you tried to get it off.
And it wasn’t just your fellow triers-on you had to fear. A mere curtain would be all that stopped you from being exposed to the entire shop and you could guarantee just as you were hopping along, bum out, trying to get a pair of jeans up past your knees, someone would enter with a flourish, allowing all the waiting boyfriends outside to see you in your hour of need. Or maybe that was just a particularly bad nightmare I once had?
Mind you, I am not entirely convinced individual dressing rooms are, on the whole, any better – especially those with the whole angled double mirror arrangement going on. There are some parts of your body that are not in view for a reason, in my opinion, and I don’t need to be reminded why in a small, harshly lit cubicle, thank you very much.
I had a friend who was a window dresser who used to tell hair-raising tales of things that went on in the changing rooms of shops she had worked in, stories not fit for a family newspaper I can tell you. All I can say is never touch anything left behind in a cubicle – you really don’t know where it has been.
Maybe my dear old mum was right after all – maybe we should dispense of changing rooms altogether.
Why hide behind a curtain when you can show your bum with a certain amount of pride in the middle of a shop floor?