It’s not really known as a purveyor of youthful fashions. Sure, youngish folk stop by, even find a bargain on occasion, but its merchandise appeals to the more . . . well . . . seasoned shoppers. You can find holiday apparel by the rack-full there, plus polyester blends in every wearable form, and Alfred Dunner pantsuits aplenty. But, to be sure, no one under the age of 50 is too disappointed when they leave Hamricks empty handed. I mean, it’s not like it’s Forever 21 or Charming Charlies.
I like Hamricks, though. The prices are reasonable, and they have a great selection of Lee jeans—a favorite of mine. Anyway, not too long ago, I was meandering through the markdowns and overheard a conversation between two women who were probably in their twenties the year I was born.
Woman One, using her thumb and finger to pull a garment out from the rack for viewing, stared at it quizzically and asked her companion, “Is this the style now?”
The blouses in question are the ones made of flimsy fabric splashed with color; many of them have empire waists such that they cinch just above the rib cage and fall free below the hips.
Woman One continued flipping through the hangers, shaking her head. She selected one, held it up, and caught her reflection in a nearby mirror. Companion peeked in to see the result.
“No. No way,” Woman One said to Companion’s face in the mirror before turning to put the blouse back in its place. “I’m not wearing that! People will think I’m pregnant!”
Oh Sweetie, I thought. Bless your heart. Just bless your sweet heart.
Have you noticed? Every garment promises it—from blouses and dresses to jeans and jackets: “Slim Fit.” “Super Slimming.” “Secretly Slimming.” “Sleek and Slim.” “Slim Style.”
I’ll admit, I’m one of the reasons this marketing strategy works. It’s true; I’ve bought lots of things (and not just clothing) that promised to perfect me upon purchase. So before I start my rant, hear me: I’m guilty.
Now. Let’s move on.
Issue #1: Why do we think that a garment will solve all of our body image issues? (And by “we,” I mean not just you, but me too—see above.) We’re fatter than ever here in the US of A, and the diet industry is growing just as fast as we are. Let’s try a new slimming technology: Let’s eat right and exercise. But let’s eat right because it is the right thing to do and because it is wrong to eat junk and to overeat. Let’s exercise because the benefits are greater than the inconvenience. And then, healthier and stronger, let’s buy what we want and wear what we like, knowing it really isn’t clothes that make a person. It’s character.
Issue #2: Why in the Sam Hill do size two jeans need so-called “slimming technology?” Seriously. It’s one thing to slip slimming secrets into my size 12 jeans; it’s another for size 2’s to promise such nonsense. I’ve seen it, and if you look, you’ll see it too: jeans smaller than size 4, blouses in XS that promise to make their wearers appear even smaller. Crazy. Come on now. Have you ever seen a size 2 person who was just a little on the plump side? If you have, you are the one with the problem—and I mean this—get yourself some help.
Issue #3: What’s so great about being slim? You know what I think? Here’s what I think: I think it’s a white thing. You read me right. I said it’s a white thang. A Caucasian quirk. How do I know? I know because I have lived my life surrounded by people of other ethnicities. Not only did I attend inner-city schools, I’ve worked and lived in environments where my pale skin put me in the minority. And it’s been my experience that other ethnic groups have more liberal attitudes about beauty. Lots of things define beauty. Skinny can be beautiful. And so can curvaceous. Green eyes, dark eyes; light skin, dark skin, freckled skin; curly hair, straight hair, streaked hair, natural hair, permed hair; long legs, short legs, fat legs, skinny legs, legs that climb on rocks. It’s all good. So get with it white folk; then get over it.
Well, in the words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.” (Which is of course an outright lie: I could talk for days about this topic—or any other). So I’ll just close with what I used to close my Weight Watchers’™ meetings with, “You are beautiful today. When you lose weight, you will be thin and beautiful. But today, you are just plain beautiful.”