Traverse City Record-Eagle

Life

June 22, 2014

Marta Hepler Drahos: Buying clothes in a house of mirrors

I’m in the dressing room hastily trying on a top — any top — that I can swap out with the one I’m wearing before heading to my evening book club meeting.

I’ve spent the day out of sorts constantly pulling up a pair of linen pants whose elastic waistband has seen better times and pulling down a crop top masquerading as a blouse.

I’ve solved the pants problem by digging up a safety pin I planted in my purse for just such occasions.

Now if only I can find a shirt I can wear more than once to justify its expense.

I pull on a black peasant top and a pair of leggings with a vaguely Nordic print — I am just back from Scandinavia, after all — and glance in the mirror.

They’re flattering, surprisingly so. I look again.

My legs are lean, even taut.

The parts of my anatomy that before were Rubenesque now are merely -esque.

I smile to myself, proud of the few pounds I’ve recently shed through a rigid diet and exercise routine.

Then I look at my face. It’s more oval than square, its natural shape.

Could a diet change that?

I head out to the sales floor and ask the clerk if there’s another mirror. Sure enough, there’s one a few feet away.

And in this one I see what I expected to see — what the world sees.

The little bumps and bulges are still there, as unflattering in the peasant top and Nordic-print leggings as they would be in a skimpy bikini.

It dawns on me that the dressing-room mirror is a fake, a trick to make unsuspecting customers feel better about their bodies — and, presumably, about how they look in the clothes they’re trying on.

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