Body Benchmark.

You know how they say that no one is perfect? Some people are close. At least, when you look at them on the outside…

You might look at their outside and think, “Man, that girl is perfect.” Her hair is perfect, her makeup is perfect, her body is perfect. The truth of it, though, is she may have all kinds of imperfections on the inside.

I’m far from perfect… both inside and out.

There’s this thing called a benchmark. It’s a measure you take at some point, whether in the beginning or at the end of a project, to be able to look back and reference. The “before” picture of people who have lost a bunch of weight… that before picture is a benchmark. Everything in our lives that we want to improve upon… we have to start with a benchmark.

This post is a benchmark for me. It’s a description of the place I’m at now… a place I don’t want to be at, both inside and out.

I have a formal event coming up, and I needed a dressy outfit for it. Aeons ago I had a camel blazer and a black blazer; but I went maybe ten years without wearing them, so I donated them. That was probably about six months ago. I would suppose that’s how pack rats come to be… but that is unrelated to this post.

I got up this morning, had a bowl of Special K, and took a shower. I kind of made my first mistake when I chose what to wear to go out shopping: a pair of clam-digger khaki shorts and a black t-shirt. Neither of these were very handy for trying on blazers. A black blazer didn’t “show” well with khaki shorts, and I had to pick out a blouse top every time I wanted to try on a blazer.

First I went to Kohl’s. I was pretty confident I would find one there. I first went to the women’s (i.e. “big girl’s”) section to see if I could find some black dress pants first. I had a pair at home; but they were a little too tight to be comfortable. I thought going straight to the women’s section would make me find pants much faster. I did find some, and I tried them on. The waist fit, but the legs were really big and baggy. I felt like I was swimming in a pool of black material. That was disheartening. So I went back to the ladies’ department. There I picked out some 16S (S for short) and tried them on. They actually fit pretty good… stretchy waist, no zipper, made me feel like an old lady… but screw it, they fit… and they were $29, so I got two pair.

Now for the blazer. No blazers in the women’s section. There were a couple blazers in the ladies’ section; but again, I had to find a little blouse to try on under it. I juggled the two pair of pants with a half dozen jackets, and a blouse. I tried on the jackets. 12, 14, 16… the 16 almost fit; but when I put my arms out straight I suddenly felt like I was in a straight jacket.

It was awful. A 16 was too small. I’m so fat, I thought to myself.

Then I went next door to TJ Maxx. Found a blouse… found a blazer… 16… barely fit… no dice. I left the stuff on the rack and left the store.

I started to cry as I walked to the car.

I called Bud. He was busy. That was fine. I just hate shopping alone. I wished he was there. He did tell me he would come with me tomorrow… but I didn’t want to wait. Honestly I just wanted the whole thing over and done with.

I felt like crap, and it was lunch time, but I pressed on. I drove from there to Macy’s. I went through the whole store. It was the same story. 12, 14, 16… and I actually asked a nice lady to help me. She gestured over to the section I had just been in and told me, yeah that’s it.

I realize that a big part of the problem here is that this is Texas, and this is June, and people don’t wear blazers in June. Well, some people do; and I needed one. Part of me wondered if I was just looking in the wrong place. I looked up “Dress Barn” online… but I really didn’t want to go there. As I drove along the little road between all the stores with tears in my eyes, I saw Dillard’s in front of me. Just go there, I thought. If you don’t, you’ll always wonder if they had something better.

I went into Dillard’s. After wandering around for thirty seconds I realized I had to go upstairs. I was weepy, tired, hungry, and kind of dizzy from looking at all these clothes. I hate shopping. I loathe it.

I saw dresses. Then I saw some suit jackets. OK, here we go, I thought. I walked over to them and started sliding sizes down the rack. 12, 14, 16… 18! Wow, really? It was a powder blue blazer. I picked it up, found a blouse, and tried it on. It wasn’t 100% perfect, but I liked it well enough.

Well, at least I know they have that, I thought. I kept looking. I found a peach colored one, and then I found a black one. The black one had a ruffly collar that seemed pretty; but I was skeptical about how it would look on me.

I went back to the dressing room. The peach one… well… I always say, things are on the clearance rack for a reason. It was 3/4 sleeve, and it had a little hinge in the front instead of a button. Pass.

Then I put the black one on. I looked and felt pretty. I still felt big, but at least now I felt a tiny bit of pretty. Thank God. That’s it. I’m done.

This whole time, by the way, I had been praying… God, please let me find a jacket… God, please let this be over… and I kept having this feeling like… Just keep looking. Just keep looking.

But now… I was exhausted. I wasn’t physically tired; I was emotionally drained. I drove back home, hung my new jacket and two pairs of pants in the closet, and just laid on the couch. I was done. I didn’t want to think about it anymore.

I’m going to have to, though. I can’t live like this anymore. It’s time for a change. Taking that first step… it’s the hardest part. It’s not just exercise… it’s that, and food, and emotions. We’ll see what this next week brings…

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About Susan Pitman

Susan is an artist who grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in Texas. She writes songs, short stories, and books. You can follow @susanpitman143 on Twitter.

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