Fashion runway models, pop divas, Hollywood film stars… with an assist from Madison Avenue (m)admen / (m)adwomen… all conspire to “sell” their thin is “in” mantra to overly impressionable young women and girls.
The problem here is we’re not talking about a glow of good health thin. We’re talking walking cadaver type thin… deadly thin… what the medical profession diagnoses as an eating disorder a.k.a. anorexia.
Having worked in sales / management for two big-name, retail clothiers for thirty years, I must’ve sold, literally, thousands of pairs of jeans. And, amidst that immense blur of store patrons, I had actually waited on a young woman who, in all likelihood, had been brainwashed into an eating disorder by that abovementioned, pop culture cast of characters (or perhaps even by a parent and/or other family member).
It is the memory of her, which, to this very day, still tends to haunt me. I cannot help but wonder… what ever happened to her? Did anyone ever get to her in time? Is she even alive today?
I’d now like to tell you how our paths crossed. While I never got to know her by name, let’s call her Harriet.
I was working the day shift when Harriet came into shop. Letting her browse a few minutes… she eventually wound up in the jeans section. I approached and, after we exchanged the “Hi, how are ya?” pleasantries, I described the various fits in our product line. From years of experience, I already had a pretty good idea which one would best compliment her slender physique.
Since she was short and those smaller sizes were (where else?) on the top shelf, I fetched two pairs down for her. I then escorted her to a changing room. A few minutes later… she emerged. She had nailed the perfect pair of jeans on her very first try!
The only problem was… between the two of us… I was the only one who had thought so. Harriet didn’t even need to say a word… I could already tell from her long face. In a sad tone of voice she then said…
“I really need to lose more weight before I buy new jeans.”
I was so stunned I didn’t quite know what to say. As she went back into the changing room, I thought to myself… why would anyone who fits perfectly into a “size one” even want to lose one single ounce?
Not taking the time to try on the second pair, Harriet soon reemerged. In my usual low-pressure selling style, I told her that she REALLY had found the perfect jeans… and added (with a chuckle) that I wasn’t “just saying that” to make a sale. She smiled slightly… yet… wasn’t ready to either buy my pitch or the jeans.
I then offered to put them on hold… to give her more time to think about it… and she reluctantly agreed… adding that if she wasn’t back in an hour… I could put them back on the shelf.
I then reached for our denim brochure, took out my pen, circled the fit she had just tried on and then handed it to her… telling her that if she didn’t make it back that day… at least she’d know what to ask for the next time she shopped with us.
Well, off Harriet went back into the mall and off I went on my lunch break. An hour later I found her jeans still sitting on the hold closet’s shelf. As I put them back out onto the selling floor… again I wondered…
Why would anyone who wears a “size one” want to lose more weight?
The outcome of unresolved anorexia is never good. I can only hope that someone in Harriet’s life got to her in time to save her very life.
As for putting an end to the totally unrealistic body images being portrayed in the media / pop culture…
We’ve Only Just Begun… as sung by anorexia sufferer, the late Karen Carpenter.