Written by: April Vargo
I've always been a fan of Target. My family shopped there ever since I can remember, we actually shopped there before it was the cool thing to do. I distanced myself for a few years after the whole credit card, identity theft debacle. My credit card was one of them that was compromised, and I was put on identify protection for like a year or so. I was a little weary when I went back for the first time, hoping something like that wouldn't happen again.
When I was pregnant I found all of those mom and Target memes to be so funny. Honestly, I didn't get it. Why would I run to Target all the time, why would I spend all my money there, why would I find my way over there just because? I like the store, but really what's the big deal? Until one day I finally saw the light.
About four months after giving birth the weather started to change. Things started to get a little chilly here and I realized I would need to go shopping. In all honesty, the reality set it when I took my daughter to a story time. I was in a hurry and threw on a tried and true outfit. The truth is it was really tried and true when I was pregnant.....a pair of leggings, a tank top, and long duster sweater. The sweater was open and always looked stellar when I was pregnant, but a pregnancy belly is firm and cute. A post pregnancy belly, on the other hand, is not cute. It's flabby, jiggly, and an entity you just try to tuck into your pants. So when I got home and looked in the mirror I was so embarrassed, honestly I looked frumpy. I couldn't believe I went out in public looking that way.
The realization hit me that I didn't have any clothes that fit for Fall or Winter. I got myself super pumped to go shopping the next day. I decided I would try Ross, thinking that there would be a selection at a reasonable price, not knowing how long I'd be in these sizes. Maizy was tucked in her car seat that snapped into a stroller, so I could walk around and try on clothes hands free. When I made a good deal of selections of all different sizes, not even knowing how to shop for myself anymore, I made my way to the fitting room.
The attendant told me they had one family dressing room. I happily walked over, only to find the curtain partially open and a single woman using the family dressing room as a runway, modeling each of her outfits. I patiently waited, and when several people walked by with dirty looks, as I guess I was blocking their walk way, even though I was pressed against the wall, I finally decided a new plan of attack was in order.
I went into the back where the rest of the fitting rooms were, which are tiny, and proceeded to fold up my stroller, put Maizy and her car seat on the bench, jam the stroller into the room, and I was left with a tiny corner to try on clothes. Honestly, I don't even know how I jammed everything in there, and the realization that I would have to somehow get out dawned on me, but I proceeded none-the-less. After countless articles of clothing didn't fit, some I even gracefully got stuck in, I looked in the mirror and realized I didn't even recognize myself. Here I am jammed in a dressing room, getting stuck in clothes, I don't understand my body anymore and I just started to cry.
I packed myself up, somehow got out of the fitting room, walked past Miss America - who was still strutting her stuff, and very defeatedly handed my items back to the attendant and left. I went home completely embarrassed and defeated.
The next day I went through my entire closet and got rid of bags of clothes. I figured having a bunch of clothes that don't fit is not doing me any good. I don't know when and if I'll get back into them. I need to make sure I can look at items that fit and feel good in. I swore I would never let myself feel the way I felt in that dressing room again. Regardless of what size I would be, I would make sure I looked good, and find a way to connect to this new body.
About a week later, I ventured out yet again. This time, deciding to try Marshalls, thinking I had luck there in the past. Well, the aisles in Marshalls are a little tight and, let me tell you, women are not super friendly or understanding. I would hug an aisle, or put Maizy off to the side to not block anyone, but her sheer presence seemed to bother some people.
I've noticed women in their 50's and 60's are not very nice. I can't tell you the number of times I have been bumped into when there was plenty of space around me, audible sighs or eye rolls given, and sometimes asked to just move so they didn't have to be around a woman and a stroller. All the while, my daughter is sleeping and not making any noise or commotion. I always find this funny as these women, at some point, may have had children of their own, so where'e the kindness and understanding?
Anyways, I gathered my clothes at Marshalls with all different sizes, and walked towards the dressing rooms to start trying on what would hopefully be some awesome finds. The attendant, (who was a woman in her 60's) let out this huge sigh and said, "are you really going to try all of these clothes on?" I stared at this woman, completely dumbfounded, and politely said yes and found myself apologizing and explaining that I don't know my size and what fits. She still looked pretty irritated, but pointed me towards the family fitting room, which was open this time.
This time I did find a few outfits, but still had to put some items back. Honestly, I dreaded having to give back items to this woman and wait for some snarky comment. Thank goodness she wasn't there, and I was able to put the items back and check out.
I felt better, but still slightly frustrated that what was supposed to be fun, still had a black cloud hanging over it. Since Maizy was still sleeping, I decided to walk over to Target. This is where things turned around...
First of all, the aisles are huge, plenty of room for a stroller and additional people to walk by. I didn't have to shove myself and Maizy against one side and wait for snarky comments. I was able to walk, shop, and others could do the same.
Secondly, I gathered up more clothes, again in all sorts of sizes and headed towards the dressing rooms. I walked up and kind of winced a little, waiting for the attendant to say something hurtful about my clothes, child, or find out there was no where to get dressed. Instead, she had this big smile on her face, and told me they had two family dressing rooms to choose from and "to go have funny hunny." I literally wanted to give her a huge hug for not judging me and instead showing just a little kindness.
I pulled up to the fitting room, which was huge. There was so much room for Maizy in her stroller and me to try on clothes and see myself in different angles. I found myself having a blast! I had to go back a few times for different sizes, but I never felt bad about it, instead I was excited to see what fit, and I even got to grab a few sizes smaller than what I thought. I was ecstatic and finally started to feel confident and good about myself again.
I walked over to the baby section and the toy section to do a little additional shopping. As I was walking around, I noticed other moms with their kids, smiling and politely saying hi. In that moment I got it! Moms go to Target because they feel welcome, they feel like they can bring their kids and not feel bad about having kids. They feel like they can get something for themselves and their families. They can have a few moments that are just about them, and honestly, sometimes those moments are desperately needed and give them a part of themselves back.
Shopping should be a fun experience, not an anxiety ridden nightmare. As someone who is rediscovering her body and trying to find the beauty and confidence in a size she's never been, it's nice to not feel judged. I'm already uncomfortable and self-conscious, I don't need to add another layer. This small experience helped to get excited in what I look like again, and gave me the feeling that I can be fashionable at this size, as I'm trying to work my way back down.
Target, thank you for helping to give me my dignity back and make shopping an experience that I truly enjoy again! This mom will be a forever fan, I now get it!