In a land before therapy, I would ease my anxiety with hobbies like smoking Parliament Lights and buying shit I don’t need. After I quit smoking (thank you, thank you very much), my anxiety ramped up and in response, so did my trips to H & M.
One Saturday afternoon I’d gone out on my own to see what kinds of things the good people at Sephora and H & M had to offer. After treating myself to some completely gratuitous makeup, I popped into H & M to see what was good.
I wasn’t looking for anything in particular other than a good deal. So when I saw the rack of marked down summer dresses, that’s where I went. Here’s something you should know: in addition to being a recovering compulsive shopper, I’m also something of an organized hoarder (but we can talk about that another time). I share that to say, I need another summer dress like I need another hole in my face. But the dresses were $10. What was I going to do? Not buy one? Get real.
I browsed through the rack and I saw a design I liked. There was only one left and it was a size XS. At the time, it was ambitious of me to think that I could fit into it. But I had nothing else to do that afternoon so I grabbed it and headed into the dressing room.
Once in the room, while getting changed, I realized exactly how small the dress was. It was a pull-over-your-head kind of situation and there was no elastic or give in the seam of the waistline. Truth be told, I couldn’t get it over my shoulders. But never one to give up, I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I straight up contorted my body in order to wrestle myself into that thing. What can I say? I’m tenacious.
I gave myself a couple glances in the three-way mirror before deciding it wasn’t really me. I grabbed the skirt and attempted to pull it back over my head. But it wouldn’t move. Well, this can’t be. So I tried again. Nope, it was stuck. I tried pulling it downward, which was a joke. If it wouldn’t fit over my shoulders, in what world did I think it was going to fit over my giant ass? It was so tight around my ribs that it would not move, up or down. I was very literally trapped in that dress.
Fuck my life.
Now, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Why didn’t you ask one of the fitting room attendants to help you?”
Because I’m too old to be publicly shamed and judged by a twenty-something H & M employee, that’s why. Not to mention, I don’t think either of us would have enjoyed seeing me topless in the harsh lighting of those dressing rooms. Oh because, make no mistake, there was no wearing a bra with this Barbie-sized dress.
I thought about calling a friend to come help me but you know how I feel about asking for help. And again, my boobs are out.
No, instead I just stayed in the dressing room yanking at the fabric, silently having a mini panic attack as I literally tried to rip that dress off of my body. I dug through my purse, hoping that it would be one of the days that I happened to be carrying around a wine key. I figured I could use the cork screw as a seam ripper. Or saw it off with the little knifey thing. (And just so you know, I had every intention of paying for the scraps after cutting myself out of that dress. I’m just that kind of person.)
But no. Other than my wallet, the only thing in my purse was that shit I bought at Sephora. And liquid eyeliner, while fun, was of no use to me in this situation.
I told myself to take a deep breath and then I tried to approach the situation practically. I figured hyperventilating and flailing around was only going to make me bloated. That wouldn’t help the situation. So I took another minute to just breath and calm down. Then I tried to retrace my steps. How exactly did I get this thing on?
I managed to inch up the part that was stuck ever-so-slightly on one side, and then the other. I did that little dance until I got it up to right under my bust line. Luckily, being the A-cup cutie that I am, I was able to smush one tiny boob under the stuck portion and then the other (and it was just as sexy as it sounds). From there I could eek it up, little by little until I got it to my armpits. From there, it was just a matter of dislocating one of my shoulders. Halleluiah, I was free.
I had been in there for about 45 minutes. And the nervous girl in me was afraid of the judgment I was going to catch for being the weirdo in the dressing room for almost an hour. Luckily, the kids at H & M don’t really give a shit about anything. When I finally did come out, the girl didn’t even look up from her phone.
Nowadays when I feel anxious, instead of shopping, I clean out my closet. Maybe it’s all that yoga, but I have a burning desire to let go of the things that no longer serve me (read: get rid of shit).
Particularly tiny, tiny H & M dresses that I bought on clearance.