What Are the 6 Most Beastly Horrors of Women’s Fitting Rooms?


You know you don’t like them. They’re bad places. Mean, awful, humiliating things happen. I usually avoid these cubicles like too-tight panti-hose, but this week I needed something quick. And it only confirmed 6 awful aspects about women’s fitting rooms…

The automatic weight gain – How did I put on 25 pounds just walking inside? And who is that tubby woman in the mirror? And what did she do with the sleek, younger version of myself I keep in my head? To make this process even more humiliating, I’m forced to strip down, shivering and vulnerable.

I’m convinced fitting rooms are designed to keep women humble, not too cocky or high on ourselves. They’re meant to break us down.   Okay, I think throwing the eight dresses I’ve picked out on the one hook provided. Let’s roll.

The mirrors – I yank on the first dress and stand before the teller of all truths. My God, do they buy these things from funhouses? How did I become so misshapen? When did my thighs become gourds and my stomach a floatation device? To add to the fun, my hair gets all weird and full of static, sticking out like I just put my head in a wind tunnel.

Most of the time this isn’t a problem unless…God, help me…there’s only a group mirror. I must leave the comfort of this booth, scuttling across the slippery floor in knee-highs. There I vie for position with other women. Of course, we pretend not to check each other out. Needless to say, these stores are now avoided.

The lighting— My God, how did Boo Radley creep in here, so pale and hollow-eyed? Wrinkles, pores, and pimples are highlighted like a relief map of Kenya. Stores, I want to call out, I have a hint for you. Try making your customers look human, not like heroin-addicted vampires. You might have more sales.

The security camera – Yes! I finally find a dress that’s not awful. And that’s when I do my fitting room happy pose, standing on tippy-tippy-toes to emulate high heels, sucking in stomach and cheekbones. I put my hands on my hips, turning, trying to find the least-horrifying angle… and that’s when I remember that little lens up top.

I stop in mid-spin, imagining the smirking security attendant . She’s eating her lunch and getting quite a show. She’s seen this spectacle a thousand times, but it never gets old. I want to look at the camera and curtsy. I hope I made your day.

The giggling teenage girls next door – Just when I think things can’t get worse, I hear, “Oh my God, Phoebe, I can’t believe you’re too skinny for size 6!” I want to knock on their wall. I want to say, “Phoebe, I used to be you. I used to be 17 and eat whatever I wanted. I could lose five pounds by cutting out one tic tac. Now it takes an act of Congress to lose weight… and well, never mind, it never happens.”

I want to tell her, Phoebe, someday you’ll know what it’s like being in your fifties and not having control of your body. You’ll know what its like giving up Double-stuffed Oreos and fudge ripple ice cream.

But alas, my silent musings are only met with more giggles and a gum pop.

The clothes-return shaming – I bring everything back to the attendant who gives me a look that’s half-pity, half-surprise. Really, her gaze seems to convey? Nothing fit? Nothing looked good? Not one single thing? Nope, I want to tell her…nothing. I give a polite thank you and make for the nearest exit.

But here’s the good news….

Clothes come in the mail!

That same day a packet of dresses arrive. I take them to my bathroom with its soft lighting and mirror that actually likes me. I try them on and find the one I’m looking for! I do my happy pose only this time there’s no smirking security guard.

I hang up the dress feeling good.  The hunt was successful. I take one last look at the mirror. My younger, sleeker self winks back.

And that’s when I realize a lesson has been learned.

From now on, I will avoid the horrible truths of women’s dressing rooms. I’ll stick to the fantasy world of my own bathroom, a place where I’m always young, thin, and can lose 5 pounds by sucking in my stomach.

So take that, Phoebe. Giggle away.


Am I the only one who suffers psychotic breakdowns in dressing rooms?  Please tell me I’m not.

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  1. Yes to all of the above, but for me, the thing I can’t stand the most is the smell! It doesn’t happen often but sometimes it makes me wonder what some women have or go through. And though I want to be compassionate, I have to be honest. I’m very olfactory and bad smells just torture me to death! Hooray to clothes in the mail!!!

  2. Oh I worked in retail for 17 years. There are other horrors that can be found in those rooms after the customers leave. (I’ve spent the last 7 retail free years erasing them from my memory)

    This was a super fun post!

  3. Dana

    The trick is, don’t look at your face in the mirror, only the clothes and how they fit. Can you sit down without feeling squeezed? Are there no bulges? Then get back into your street clothes and buy it! 🙂

  4. Laurie, you just perfectly summed up every nightmarish, depressing trip to the dressing room I’ve ever had. I have done more damage to my own body image by simply trying on clothes. You would think retailers would pull out all of the stops to make the lighting and mirrors flattering, but it’s just the opposite. I, too, take refuge in online shopping these days.

  5. I love shopping online, buying at least the minimum for free shipping and then I’ll take whatever doesn’t work back to the brick and mortar store, never having to set foot in a dressing room. Definitely a win! 🙂

  6. Louise Sultana

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I thought it was just me and went through agonies thinking to myself ‘oh my god I look like something the cat dragged in’.

  7. These things apply to men’s fitting rooms too. I particularly hate the mirror. We don’t have any full-length mirrors at home, so I’m hardly ever confronted by my head and my body at the same time. It’s almost more horror than the mind can handle.

    • Laurie Stone

      You are hilarious. Unfortunately, as a woman I see my head and body reflected back in tandem way too often. Dressing rooms just compound the terror.

  8. Omg, YES YES YES! I gave up on fitting room many years ago. They have never been kind to me nor any other woman I know. I prefer to pay for return shipping and have my clothes delivered straight to my door. I love my bathroom lighting and mirrors. They don’t lie to me like the ones in fitting rooms. I totally feel ya girly! Rock on!


  9. Yes – yes – I feel your pain. The older I get, the more I HATE shopping for clothes. But, then I find myself wearing the same old out-of-date pieces that have been in my closet for years. I do like to shop locally rather than order things online. So — I do occasionally FORCE myself to enter the dreaded fitting room.

    • Laurie Stone

      Carol, I must admit, I buy a lot online and once in a while make my way to TJ Maxx. I like them because the racks are easy to get through and the fitting rooms are never crowded. Easy in and out, one of my great rules for shopping!

  10. You are not! Thank goodness for online shopping! I order 2 sizes in everything. And then I have my whole closet available to see what goes with what. Brilliant!

    • Laurie Stone

      Cathy, I love ordering two sizes of everything. Brilliant. You always have the right size and can send the other back!

  11. Horror #7 – the stuck zipper because you are trying a size too small— that’s my particular hell.
    I have drawers filled with bathing suits that don’t fit because I won’t try them on in a fitting room anymore and I’m too lazy to return them.

    Fitting rooms designed by Victoria Secret models to persecute the midlife woman.

    • Laurie Stone

      Beth, Forgot about the stuck zipper or the jeans that will go only halfway up the thighs! That’s another fun moment. I keep thinking I have my 16 year-old body.

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