I clumped into the dress shop in my everyday state of dishevelment, my
everyday hair scraped up on top of my head, my everyday tiredness seeping
through my body. I looked around... there were sequins and lycra and bright
colours everywhere. Suddenly it was far too daunting, and I was turning to leave
when the girl looked at me and asked if I wanted help.
It burst out of me in a rush.
"Yes please" I said "I have a 21st to
go to tonight. I haven't bought evening clothes in over a decade. I'm fat and
I hate the way I look. Please, I'd love some help"
She smiled at me
"Of course" was all she said as she looked at me carefully.
She didn't go on with all that "But you aren't fat" bullshit. It was
She brought me tops, skirts, pants. Piles of lovely colours appeared on
the counter. She assembled costumes and sent me to try endless combinations
on. And her enthusiasm caught me.
It wasn't a hopeless idea any longer that I could look good. It was as if
this lady had some magical power. I relaxed and she tried things. She looked
at me when I had things on, and sometimes she said "No, that doesn't
flatter you at all"
It would have been a wonderful experience even if I had never seen The Dress.
The lady didn't choose it for me.
I'd seen it soon after I'd walked in, and dismissed... not it, but the idea
of myself in it.
I'm ... especially when I'm tired... I'm lumpy. I stoop a little. I'm fat.
The Dress was redder than a fire engine. And it was a dress for a
beautiful, magical woman. Not for a tired, frumpy mother.
But somehow, the way the woman was showing me things, and being honest about
them, and being so enthusiastic made me feel... daring.
"I'd quite like to try this... What do you think?"
She smiled at me and said "Go ahead, you'll never know if you don't
So, greatly daring, my heart in my mouth, I did.
I borrowed some proper shoes from the shop, and got changed with my eyes
I took a deep breath, and looked.
I didn't recognise the woman in the mirror. Where I am fat, she was
voluptuous. Where my hair is messy, hers was tousled. Where I am pink with embarrassment,
I walked out of the dressing room and stood facing the lady.
She just beamed back at me.
The dress, I knew, was ... not just good, but right.
So I bought it. And I wore it. And I loved it. And I danced all night
until my feet hurt.
And I looked good