Why I hated shopping.
I was never one that loved shopping. I would always rather spend my money on food or experiences. I used to think that shopping was exhausting. Carrying clothes on my arm to go try them on, getting tired of just browsing, trying things on that you thought were the right size but turns out that store’s size Large is actually a size Small. I’m getting tired of just thinking about this process. But, shopping can actually boost your self-confidence.
Well, at least that’s what this dress taught me.
Like any girl, I always struggled with body issues. I think aside from when I was little and oblivious to what I looked like, and I mean really little, I was always a chubby kid with chubby cheeks. I was made aware of that very early on in life. And, for the longest time, I would always just go to the Large or Extra Large section. That’s how everyone else saw me, so I would wear clothes that were always bigger than me.
Shopping as the girl with the small ass, curvy hips but small thighs, broad shoulders and big boobs—is hard to say the least. It wasn’t until a year ago that someone used the word tiny to describe me and I was shocked. No one had ever called me that. That description didn’t fit in the vocabulary of how to describe me—I was always the hairy fat kid. It’s a hard-knock life for Latinas.
But after years of buying dresses and belts that were too big for me, I started buying clothes that actually fit. I started getting the Medium sized top guilt-free, instead of the Large one. I slowly started to see my body for what it was, not for what everyone had seen it as, all those years ago.
Shopping for an occasion.
I went shopping with one of my girlfriends the day before New Year’s Eve. She also had her own reservations on how stressful shopping could be, so I suggested we try some shopping centers instead of pushing her into the deep end at the mall. We were looking for a dress for her, she was going to a party downtown and needed to look VA-VA-VOOM. And, she did. Obviously.
We had made it to the store and I thought what the heck, I guess I’ll try some on too. I hadn’t decided what I was going to do for New Year’s Eve. I wasn’t really in the mood for going out, but my friends kept motivating me to go. So, to get my mind off things, I grabbed a couple of dresses for other occasions, all flower print and spin approved. The best dresses have flowers, and are obviously spin approved…why else are you wearing a dress?
La La Love.
I had recently taken myself on a date to see La La Land, and LOVED it. I even stopped by one of my favorite Italian restaurants right next to the theater and ordered gelato for one please. I freaking love gelato.
Anyways, back to La La Land…
Within the first five minutes of the film, my eyes were bloodshot and I mouthed quietly, “OMG I LOVE THIS MOVIE.” If I ever wrote and directed a movie, it would look a lot like La La Land.
It was like someone took my mind and put it on screen. I was in love with the setting, the music, the story. I loved the flowy dresses, the twirling, the tap dancing, the parties, the singing, the montages, the jazz, the Ryan Gosling, the dreaming, the everything. I could talk about the plot, the characters, the details, the anything about this movie for hours, so I’ll get back to the point…
I loved La La Land. Yes, even the ending. What? You didn’t like the ending? Let’s get coffee. Let me explain it to you, please. And like the old soul that I was, I had been petitioning for old musical Hollywood to make a come back, and it did.
Back to the dress…
I was helping my friend find some dresses for her VA-VA-VOOM night of countdowns and champagne cheers, and stumbled upon one that looked very La La Land. I knew it was off mission for her, but I just had to try it on. So obviously, I grabbed it.
After round one of searching through the racks, making sure we had enough options for the VA-VA-VOOM factor, we headed to the dressing rooms. I had only pulled a few to try on myself, to pass the time and wait for her big reveals. After hanging up my choices and telling my friend to show me all of her options, no matter what, I stared at myself briefly in the mirror. I had a very casual outfit on, I didn’t really see myself the way that I was about to, it was really the token “Okay, let’s do this” affirmation I do right before I start trying on clothes.
I noticed that most of the dresses I had grabbed were not surprisingly, too big and made me look like I was pregnant. I was finishing trying on the last too-big-Mon-looks-prego dress, trying to figure out how I could make it fit my body better with maybe a belt…or geez, I don’t know, maybe a smaller size!? Earth to loveleemonicaa, you’re not always a Large!
La La Let’s do this.
But it was time. I had saved the best for last. It was time to try on the La La Land dress. I grabbed it off the hanger already feeling defeated that the vision of what this dress made me feel, wasn’t going to meet my expectations—I was thinking it wouldn’t really fit. I don’t have the body for this dress. Why am I even trying this on?
It was a different neck line than I was used to, and it looked super small on the rack, but as every possible doubt filled my mind with negative thoughts, I tried it on anyways.
I want to say that I put on the dress, but it really just came down like a curtain and it fit…perfectly. And for the first time in almost 10 years, I felt so beautiful. My hair was curly, each wave flowed down like individual ribbons. My shoulders were poised, like a dancer—the neckline was surprisingly perfect. The tiny flowers brought out the random freckles I have on my face, and every breath I took seemed lighter, softer, delicate.
Awakening myself from a trance, I spun around and hardly recognized myself. I didn’t feel like I even needed the perfect pair of shoes or felt the need to wear lipstick. I liked how the only thing I had on was the dress.
I was barefoot, I barely had any make-up on my face, and my tiny shiny necklace that I always wear, was stuck to my collar bone as if it was a part of my skin. I never take that thing off. The whole ensemble was so simple, yet I felt so beautiful, so pretty.
Then out of no where, I heard the most confident voice in my head say:
Gosh darn it, I’m going on a date this year. Not hanging out, not maybe see you at the thing or the place, not wanna maybe grab coffee, but an actual freaking date. And I don’t know when, I don’t know how, or with who or where, but I know I am going to wear this dress.”
I was shocked. I was visualizing. I was confident. I felt like I almost should’ve sang Part of You World to myself in the mirror. Who was this girl I saw in the reflection? Okay, now I’m going Mulan…
What magical confidence quality did this dress possess?
Where could I get more?
I feel pretty, oh so pretty.
When I got home, I started looking through my closet. I have way too many articles of clothing. I needed to do a sweep. But I decided to do this thing I used to do when I was younger to feel pretty. I would go in my closet and make outfits. I would pretend I was going out on a date somewhere. I would talk to myself in the mirror and spin around. My brother recorded me one time, thankfully that tape is lost and Snapchat didn’t exist back then.
Trying on my closet I have today, I realized I had so many date dresses I had once bought, but had never worn because honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been on a real freaking date. But, at the time of purchase, it was probably on sale, and when I tried it on at the store I probably felt really pretty, and to boost my confidence I said TREAT YO SELF, so I did.
I tried on all my date dresses that night. I would look in the mirror, I would visualize. I would say: “Gosh darn it, I was going to wear this out one day and feel beautiful.” It had been a long, long time since I had felt that way about myself—a long time since I had felt pretty, or called myself beautiful in a mirror.
And I’m so happy that my eyes were somehow ready to be unveiled to see what I should’ve seen in myself, what I once saw in myself, all those years ago.
I bought that La La Land dress. Obviously. It’s hanging in my closet and I smile every time I look at it. I haven’t had that date happen yet, but it will one day. And I’ll wear the dress, and I will feel beautiful in it. Because for the first time in a long time, I felt pretty. And it is the kind of pretty where I don’t care what everyone else thinks I look like.
I feel pretty. No one else matters.
Lovely Life Lesson:
No one can really make you feel as beautiful as you can make yourself feel. It’s a lesson I wished I had learned earlier on in life, I would’ve enjoyed shopping so much more.
Sometimes you need to Treat Yo Self, For Yo Self, To Make Yo Self Feel Pretty. Because at the end of the day, if you’re out there shopping for whoever it is you’re trying to impress, I hate to break it to you, but you’re never going to feel as pretty or as beautiful as you will when you dress to impress yourself.
Also, go shopping with a girlfriend every once in a while. If you don’t have many girlfriends, don’t worry I don’t either, but I will happily accompany you and compliment you constantly. You can even FaceTime me if we don’t live in the same city.
I’m here for you.
Because gosh darn it, we will find you a La La Land dress, and you’ll love it. And most importantly you’ll end up buying something that made you feel pretty (again) and you’ll be one step closer to loving yourself more. And at the end of the day, that is a priceless purchase, one worth investing in and one worth calling yourself beautiful for.