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  • Writer's pictureJane Leder

Dressing Rooms: OMG!

I walked into the dressing room at TJMax yesterday afternoon in search of one or two new sweaters to replace several in my closet that have seen better days--way better.

Now, I've developed my own little routine when in a store dressing room with those god-awful lights and surround-view mirrors. Years ago, I didn't mind seeing myself reflected half nude. Sure, I didn't like seeing the little blue spider veins crawling up my legs or my distended belly that I conveniently blamed on my period. Remember?

But things have changed! For some time, now, I walk into a dressing room, take off my sweater or pants or whatnot, close my eyes, put on the potential new item and then, only then, do I open my eyes. It's a simple process, and one that I've followed since certain body parts no longer return to their youthful selves.

Back to TJMax. I entered the dressing room after being handed a Number 4 tag for the four sweaters I thought might be the right fit. A store electrician must have had a heavy hand that morning and pushed too hard on the store's light switches. For a minute, I thought I was in a tanning bed or sitting in the Florida sun, lathered up with suntan oil, ready to bronze my all-too-pale body. My first thought: Why hadn't I brought a pair of sunglasses? My second thought: I don't think I can bear trying on clothes. I was certain that the blazing lights would sear through my closed eyes and that, like an x-ray or Superman, I would be exposed.

I wanted to ask other women whether my eyes were overly sensitive or whether they, too, were thinking of returning another day. But I was the only customer in the room. Maybe some of the others had walked in, felt like they had entered a torture chamber, and walked right out.

But I liked the sweaters I held in my hands, and I liked the prices. It's hard to find a decent sweater--a decent anything--for $16.95. What did I have to lose? My eyesight. Maybe. My waning self-confidence. Hell, I'd follow my little game plan and hope for the best.

I cheated. Yep, my curiosity got the better of me. With my old sweater off, I figured why not? Why not keep my eyes open, assess the damage, and give myself props for my sturdy body that has served me well for the past seventy-four years? Indeed. Why not?

I stared at myself in the blinding light. Not so bad. I mean, not really. My mid-drift was still intact, my delts still muscular. The cherry angiomas (Translate: little, red dots) that dotted my skin didn't scream "polka dot blouse from the 1950s."

Maybe this good fortune clouded my judgment. I bought all four sweaters--two of them identical except for the color. I'll have to make sure to skip a few days between wearing one and then the other.

Is there a lesson here? From now on, will I forgo my little shut-thy-eyes game? Probably not. Nah, I don't need to scour my naked body parts while lit by those god-awful dressing room lights. (Did I mention the three-way mirrors?) I'll settle for the lighting fixture in my closet with the burned-out bulb.


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