Tales from the Dressing Room: The Purple Dress

Dressing Room

In the short history of Sincerely, Diana, I’ve talked a lot about my efforts to get healthier.  I’m a facts and figures kind of girl, so I very frequently talk about my weight, down to the fifth of a pound.  I’m very proud that I’ve lost 8.5 gallons of milk (or 68 pounds, for those of you who haven’t read my post Measuring Progress A Gallon At A Time) and I’m still working my ass off to get below 200 pounds. But sometimes the best thing to do is pay attention to things the scale can’t tell you – Non-Scale Victories.

You can’t lose 68 pounds without having quite a few Non-Scale victories.  It’s just too darn much weight – more than the average 9 year old boy, as I learned writing the Measuring Progress post. I’ve been able to buy smaller sizes, I’ve had more energy, I’ve been able to do things at the gym that I couldn’t have done when I started. I have had months where I lost inches even though I wasn’t losing pounds. Heck, I’ve even had people that I used to see every single day at a prior job tell me they did not recognize me since I’ve lost weight.  These are the things that get me and every other person who is trying to lose weight through the times when the scale refuses to budge even though you could swear you’ve done *everything* right. And recently, I had the mother of all Non-Scale Victories.

It all started with planning a trip to Miami with my college girlfriends.  A few of my sorority sisters from college are big believers that when it’s cold and dreary in the Midwest, the best thing to do is get the heck out of Dodge and find somewhere warm and sunny where the most common product to be manufactured on any given day is fruity drinks with umbrellas.  So we booked tickets to Miami for President’s Day weekend.

My problem? Clothes.  We were planning to have dinner at a pretty swank, very famous restaurant one night and I had nothing appropriate to wear. There are a couple of very practical reasons for this – first, I am not necessarily the type of girl that dresses up very often, as God knows it’s not required at most venues in Olathe, KS, where I’ve heard khakis and a polo be called “Johnson County Formal”. Also, since I kicked my weight loss efforts back into high gear a few weeks ago, I have simply not bought many clothes unless I absolutely needed them.  Bras and jeans are about all I’ve bought in the last 5 months.

But the bigger reason? I have hated to clothes shop for years.  I just don’t do it very often. I do enjoy it more now than I did when I was my heaviest, but it’s still pretty far down on my list of things I want to spend my time doing.

Before Picture

Back then, at 277.2 pounds and a tight size 22,I dressed to blend in, and I couldn’t even look in the mirror when I shopped because I hated what I saw.  Time and time again, I took a pile of clothes into a dressing room and came out with absolutely nothing I wanted to put on my body.  And on more than one occasion, I broke down crying in a dressing room because piece after piece that I thought would work well (or as well as anything could on my body at that time) looked terrible.  In my world, the dressing room was a demoralizing place for over 10 years.

But I was determined to find SOMETHING that would work for my trip.  Since Kip made the mistake of telling me he doesn’t mind shopping, and actually kind of likes helping the women in his life look and feel their best, I asked him if he’d like to help me shop for some stuff for my trip, and he readily agreed.

Ever playing the part of the optimist, I planned a trek to Nordstrom with a stash of rewards certificates in hand. I’m not a very good browser, so as soon as we stepped foot in the store, I made a beeline for the nearest salesperson.  And I asked her where they keep the women’s (aka plus sized, aka Tents and Muumuus) section.

SaleGirlfriend looked me up and down, and then proceeded to ask me what size I thought I was. I told her I was looking for a 16, or maybe an 18 – depends on the style of the dress, because after all, baby’s got back.

She looked me up and down again, and proceeded to tell me “You are not a size 16 or a size 18.  Let’s try some stuff right here in the ladies’ section.”

I proceeded to look at the woman as if she had sprouted a second head, because I was positive there wasn’t any way on God’s green earth I was going to fit into anything in the regular ladies’ section.  Those clothes go up to a size 14 at most, and anyone who has ever been in my shoes knows that a ladies’ size 14 is cut totally different from a plus-sized size 14.  But I decided I would humor the woman, try some stuff on, fail to be able to zip it, and then she would take me upstairs to Tents and Muumuus where I belonged.

SalesGirlfriend took Kip and I on a whirlwind tour to pick up several dresses and other fun things to try for my trip.  In some cases, SalesGirlfriend told me what size she was handing me, but in many others she didn’t.  At that point, I truthfully didn’t give a crap because I was convinced nothing was going to fit.  Eventually my arms were full of stuff – much of it beautiful stuff that was destined to depress me at some point – so it was time to go into the dressing room.

Kip had some time on his hands and a fully charged cell phone, so SalesGirlfriend installed him in a chair down by where the three-way mirror (aka, dressing room equipment that I’m pretty sure should be prohibited based on the 8th Amendment) was installed, and I went back to the dressing room.

I proceeded to try on a truckload of stuff.  There were a few pieces right off the bat that Did Not Work. This was a little depressing, especially when a GORGEOUS black dress that I really liked a lot was too small. But my smug feelings of knowing that I was right about shopping in the Regular Section started to take hold and balanced out such disappointments.

Then I got to my favorite dress – a great looking purple number.  When I’d seen it on the floor, my face lit up because the color was absolutely delicious, so SalesGirlfriend put it in my pile to try on, telling me that she’d grabbed a size 12, which was the biggest size available.  I almost didn’t want to try it on, because I haven’t worn a size 12 since I was about 22 years old and I didn’t want to face it.  But I did it anyway.

And much to my surprise, the dadgum thing fit.  It actually fit.

I walked out of the dressing room to show off the dress to Kip, figuring that just because I had managed to zip the thing up didn’t necessarily mean that it looked good. But his face said it all.


I’d found myself a dress for Miami.

In Size 12.

After I turned around for Kip and he confirmed his seal of approval, and I wrangled a promise that we would go somewhere worthy of such a dress, I went back to the dressing room.

For the first time since I was in college I could wear a dress in a reasonable size that even had a pencil skirt shape and it looked decent.  Good, even.  So I did what any girl in my situation would do – I cried the ugly cry for a few minutes. Every negative emotion I’d had for years somehow seemed to melt before me, because I fit in that dress.

Before the day was over, I found several other cute things while shopping.  As tempting as it was to buy all of it, I just bought two dresses that would serve me on my trip and beyond – a girl’s gotta save a few bucks for umbrella drinks, after all.

Later on, I mentioned another dress I really liked to Kip that I wasn’t even able to try on because the biggest size available was a size 8.

His comment? “You’ll get there.”

And for the first time, I actually believe it.  I believe a size 8 just might be achievable.

And that is a Non-Scale Victory to top every Non-Scale Victory I’d ever seen.

5 responses to “Tales from the Dressing Room: The Purple Dress

  1. This is so much MORE exciting than just seeing the loss on the scale! I have been here. I never ever thought I could fit into super skinny jeans at Old Navy. It wasn’t about what the scale said; it was about putting those jeans on and knowing they fit…..and a few months later, knowing that they are loose and I need to go down a size…Happy Day!


  2. Congratulations! I am on a similar journey, having lost 73 pounds and I know how amazing it feels to put on a dress in a “reasonable” size, although for me that is currently a 16. Keep it up!!


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