En Vogue Now

A friends from Australia and her girlfriend stayed with us for the weekend at the start of a five-week cross country adventure. It was great to see them.
Their visit also gave me a chance to do some things I don’t usually do on my own. Activities that might be described as “touristy” by locals, are often fun, and being with people who come from another place eyes allows you to notice things with a fresh eyes. It is pretty funny how the bong shops in Venice are next door to medical marijuana shops with guys wielding placards that say “The Doctor is IN,” how the cops all just seem to be posing with their motorcycles, and how Venice Beach Basketball League games, accompanied by loud music and a rhyming announcer make you feel like you’re in a music video.
For the most part, we took our friends to eat food that does not exist in Australia–primarily Latin based cuisines. An order of nachos in Australia is like eating Chef Boyardee sauce on corn chips. So we made it a point to try Mexican food, Cuban food, and El Salvadorean food.
But on their final night, we decided to go someplace we consider quintessentially American in that it is a chain, feels oddly private in a huge loud setting, and has enormous portion sizes: Cheesecake Factory. We chose the one at the nearby posh Grove Shopping Center. The wait was a typical forty minutes. They gave us a little buzzer to carry around with us, so we wandered by the lighted fountain, the Victoria’s Secret, into The Gap.
I don’t make it shopping often, but I have long bought the occasional staples– t-shirts, long-sleeved T’s, tank tops–at The Gap. It’s convenient because I’ve found that at this store I am a perfect medium for over a decade, and I don’t need to try things on.
This night The Gap was having a 2-for-1 shirts sale, and had some V-neck T’s displayed, thus:

A little Flashdance–but overall cute, right? Nice colors, soft cotton.
But as I looked at one on a hanger, it looked big. I checked the size, thinking it must be a large or extra-large…but it was an extra-small! My friends tried on the extra-smalls but returned them to the racks, unable to wear them.
We gave up on clothes and decided to proceed to the Barnes & Noble, but when we left we noticed this:

All the t-shirts on the mannequins had handfuls of fabric pinned at the back to make them fit. If your mannequin–theoretically an size–can’t wear your clothes, who do you think can?
The next day, I went back to grab a couple of tank-tops since the sale was ending. I almost took the mediums to the register, but holding them up for inspection, decided I should play it safe and try them on…. It seems that I might now wear a “small” at The Gap.
I understand that size modifications can be a balm to the ego. I was delighted when I dropped from a size 8 to a size 4-6 several years ago. And I was ecstatic to find, in my thirties, that I had finally graduated from a AA to a full A bra cup.
But at the same time, you have to wonder, what are these modifications doing to our sense of proportion. And what will people who are actually small still be able to shop at the Gap?

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