Sweet, Salty & Sexy

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Woman tries on dress in the mirror

Who has the fairest changing room lighting of them all?

Trust me—you’ll need a filtered lens to find a well-lighted fitting room in this country. We’ve all been there. As you race to the dressing room, maneuvering an armful of the latest fashions, take heed. Even a fit, toned, and tanned woman with nary an ounce of body fat can fall victim to a bout of low self-esteem when she sees herself in the halogen lighting and funhouse mirrors provided in the typical dressing room, including those in high-end shops.


Caught Without Our Clothes On

In our excitement at finding a new fashion treasure, we never see it coming. Instead, we exhale a sigh of relief when a chic and efficient sales assistant grabs the garments from our collapsing arms and assists us into a luxurious, oversized changing room. As we drop a heavy handbag on the cushioned bench, we relax a bit, noticing plenty of hanging racks to separate our finds and a platform where we can twirl in 3D and imagine how fabulous we’ll look in our new threads on date night. High-end stores are really the worst offenders because they deliver a false sense of security. Who wouldn’t look great in such plush surroundings? If we’re talking the fitting room, no one, I tell you. No one.


Shine a Light on It

So here you are, staring into a triple mirror flooded with the most unflattering light imaginable. God help you if you’re trying on lingerie or swimsuits. In the end—and I do mean the back end—things look even more dimply, from every angle. No matter how expensive the outfit or how long the sleeves, nothing seems to look good on cadaver skin coloring.


Who Does This?

Who are these people, the ones whose job it is to design fitting rooms? Maybe they’re like that guy Vawn, on The New Atlanta, who never removes his sunglasses. I’ve done that. I’ve worn my sunglasses in the dressing room, just to get the effect of a filtered lens. But then I couldn’t see myself at all. One thing I do know about these fitting room designers—they’re not French.


Seeing Things the French Way

In the Galeries Lafayette in Paris, the changing rooms in the lingerie department have two buttons on the wall; one summons an assistant, and the other changes the light inside the cubicle from day to night so you can see how you will look when your lover undresses you. How simple is that? This is all we need—the ability to see things clearly, in the environment where we’ll actually be wearing the clothes (or not). Memo to fashion retailers: There’s no need to light up every vein and capillary, making us look worse than we do in natural light. Just set the mood a little bit and we’ll buy more—I promise.

Deeper into the Light

Things are tough enough on American women. The pressure in this country to live up to impossible physical standards is pervasive. And while models and celebs are being airbrushed to a fare-thee-well, we mortals are subjected to imperfect situations like fitting rooms that not only don’t flatter us—they distort our natural beauty.


Keep It Real and a Little Bit French

Until someone wakes up the folks who design fitting rooms, you need to let go of the harsh scrutiny that surrounds you—physically, culturally, and in your own mind. Practice seeing yourself is a better, a truer light. That’s how you’ll find a perfect fit!

Carol Cottrill