Turning 60, not Six



I refer again to the Sally Field movie, “Hello my name is Doris” in which an awkward 60 year old woman has some adventures after her mother dies (yes, we’re talking about this again, it’s my blog and I can do what I want to).

A recap: Doris wears cute girlish outfits, floral dresses that flare out with polka dot sweaters, and hair ties made from the same fabric as her dress. I credit the costumers with putting her in high heels, a nod to stylishness that 60 year-olds seldom get.

I wondered while watching – my willing suspension of disbelief suspended momentarily – how someone IRL would have those matching hair bands – they would have to be sewing their own clothes. Suspension back on, that made sense.

Now, moving on to one of my recent peeves which segues to my own hairband crisis… Okay it’s not a pet peeve EXACTLY but it comes up whenever we women-folk start talking about sizing for women’s’ clothes. First, the fashion industry has messed with our self image by downsizing the sizes.  What was a size 10 is now and 8 or a 6. We can deal with this by shopping in more expensive stores, budget allowing, or stores for the “mature” figure where the salesperson will tell us the clothes “fit big”, so that if you are a size 14 you are smugly able to purchase clothes in Size 12.  S, M, and L provide frustratingly fluid sizing that seems subtly pejorative and when it comes to XL, XXL I’m with Jerry Seinfeld and I’m cutting out the labels.  Then there are retailers who cleverly rebrand the sizes to something unrecognizable and child-like – one, two, three – these are quite mysterious and hold you hostage to buying only those clothes once you figure out what your size is.   The best option may be European sizing which is  vaguely accurate in that the sizes are close to measurements such as 38, 40, 42, although good luck finding anything higher than a 36. Beyond 14, are the “plus” sizes, again cleverly branded as “More” or “Curve” or “Bold” or “BBW”, plastered on the wall in elaborate cursive writing.

Once you have navigated the larger size that works for you and the emotions that come with it – no crying in the fitting room – my peeve is that large sizes are longer sizes. For some reason, as I age and gain weight and change shape, the clothing industry seems to think that I am still growing taller and that my arms and legs are getting longer, like I’m six years old.

Even with fairly long arms, I still end feeling like a kid wearing their mom’s clothing with sleeves that go past my knuckles.  Tops that should end below the waist go down past my crotch. Pants have an extra 6 or 8 inches and I am 5 and a half feet. If it fits around my boobs, the neck is so large that the sleeves are pooling around my shoulders like a cowl. A dress that fits makes me feel like Queen Elizabeth attending a dignitary’s funeral, the hem falling modestly mid calf when current fashion trends are above the knee.

There are women who are both higher sizes and taller and need the length, and it seems then that “regular” and “tall” would be a good way to help us all know where to shop, you know, like men do.  Instead, again, the fashion industry serves to make women feel less by dividing us into regular and small.  I speak here of the “petite” department where I can find lengths that work but concerned salespeople rush over to inform me I’m in the wrong place.

My bones are the same size they have been since I was about 20. In fact, they are probably shrinking a bit as I age. There are many times when I wish I was still a size 4 (yes I was!) or maybe a size 10 – 10 was nice, sigh, but I like eating and drinking far too much and work at accepting my body shape as mature, rather than large or plus. It doesn’t help that the clothing industry makes me feel disproportionate, like someone with my girth should also have a more Amazon height and physique, legs that go on forever and arms made for archery. It may be because the fashion people believe that people stop buying clothes after a certain age and size, and so the sizes beyond 14 represent 16 year olds that are still growing taller and longer, not 60 year-olds who only grow from the middle, not the ends.

So recently I broke out a number of lovely tops that have hung in the closet for too long because they were – too long. I put them on with shorts or pants and see that what I don’t like about them is they hang down past my crotch and make by 60ish torso look even more bulky as the bottom covers up what is left of my booty and any remnants of curve that my hips still put out. It is like wearing a potato sack and not being Marilyn Monroe. I grab the nearest scissors and cut off enough inches to make me feel pretty again.

The problem is I’m left with about a 2 inch wide strip of matching fabric- perfect for that Hello My Name is Doris headband. Do I dare tie it around my tousled hair and end up looking like a 6 year old anyway?

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