by Shelley Danzy
Reflect: Three-way mirrors lie
You’re grateful that someone in the world renounced “husky” from the wooden placards inside of JC Penney. The wooden chair in the dressing room is a fitting reminder that you might have to rest in between trying on the newer plus-sized styles that could aptly be labeled the denigration of denim. Hang the plastic hangers on the hooks and give yourself a friendly once-over in the mirror. The newest gray hair makes a desperate plea to make its presence known; at least the count hasn’t doubled to match the double-digit numeral that indicates your pants size.
Boot cut. Low-rise (no way). Mid-rise. Regular. Over the knees, good start, then shimmy-tug (which your mother declared was really a word) begins. Lean to the left; pull. Lean to the right; pull. Suck in the tummy. You swear the chair just called out your name. Suck in the tummy again. Button.
Turn your head from side to side to convince yourself that your body looks the same all the way around. Nothing beautiful reflects what your about-face reveals in the mirror. Not after the first pair, nor the second, not even the third. For a split second the thin dressing room curtain becomes a shield of protection for the husky-girl-turned-woman. Next pair. Shimmy-tug…
Tilt chin up so the tears won’t fall. Put on the plastic smile and exit.
Breathe. You’re perfectly okay. Besides, objects in the mirror are always closer than they appear.
Reject: Spandex stretches the truth
You’re positive that the life-sized mannequin must be sporting the only pair of jeans left in your size. The bubble-gum-chewing, size-two-wearing store clerk seems kind enough to check the size. She’ll look at you, then back to the mannequin. The store clerk jerks you out of your happy place. “What’s your size?”
No need to try this pair on. The Just My Size brand will surely be just your size. 80% cotton, 18% polyester and 2% spandex. “Those aren’t for you, are they? Women’s World is the next aisle over,” she mumbles. You hold the elasticized jeans up to your waist with your left hand and cover your mouth with the right.
Pop. Her bubble bursts…or maybe it was yours.
Your brain signals the curvature of your mouth. Cue plastic smile.
Breathe. You’re perfectly okay. You always bounce back.
Redirect: Shoes always fit
You’re confident that high heels heal your soul. Every breath you take. Or maybe it’s the top-40 Muzak version of every song you know. Ah, yes, the Police.
Gray leather straps buckle at the ankle. Every move you make. Lean to the left; lean to the right. Bubble-gum girl passes by. Every bond you break. You know it’s her by the flip-flap of her flip-flops instead of the gum this time. Every step you take/ I’ll be watching you. With widened eyes, she’ll look at you, then back to the shoes on the plastic pedestal, simultaneously picking up the same shoe-style you’ve just tried on.
The wooden chair beckons you to sit as the shoes are rewrapped in the white tissue paper.
You smile. It’s genuine this time.
Breathe. You’re perfectly okay. Now the only distressed look is on a pair of Levi’s.
After a 20-year broadcasting career, Shelley Danzy is pursuing her MFA in Writing at Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta. She has experience in business writing, copy writing and ghostwriting. Shelley is an admirer of inspirations, quotes, handwritten notes, indie bookstores, and quirky thrift store finds.