“Congratulations, you had your baby!” Insert confused look here. “The other day I was in shopping, and you were pregnant…?”
Working as a stylist/retail bitch is sometimes rewarding but a lot of the time monotonous and slightly demeaning. In this particular instance I was dealing with two extraordinarily wealthy clients. Both girls were foreign exchange students from the same city, but became BFFs when they met their first year in college. They also have monthly allowances of what I hope my yearly earnings will one day look like. On Monday they took full advantage of that allowance. On Wednesday they were back to exchange almost half of their purchases. On Monday I was wearing a boxy turtleneck sweater dress – one of those heinously-on-trend looks great on a super model type pieces – and on Wednesday I was back to my crop top and high-waisted jeans (lazy) routine.
At first I was more than a little ticked off, as any nonpregnant woman would be. By necessity, styling connects me with clients who have far larger wallets than my own. Frequently, these wealthy clients treat me as if I am beneath them both socioeconomically – which is true – and as a person – which, thanks to my parents who love and support me, extensive debt and college degree, I know not to be true. But then a thought came to me: at least they thought to say congratulations. I laughed. A little at first, and then harder and harder until it was an all-out side clutching could not breathe ordeal. One of my friends and coworkers laughed so hard the Poland Springs Raspberry Lime Seltzer literally spewed from her mouth. We just could not contain ourselves. Work Monday, have a baby Tuesday, and be back at work on Wednesday? Forego time with my (fictional) newborn baby for a nine hour shift that hardly floats my own rent? I know women and our bodies are capable of amazing things, but I just can not imagine that.
I have loved fashion since I twirled my way out of my own mother’s womb. At one time, my closet was filled with circle skirts and headbands and pussy bowed blouses. So where did this all-common-sense-should-tell-me-this-is-ugly dress come from? Before Pablo became Picasso, his knowledge of classical painting techniques was so extensive that he had nothing else to continue on in that realm of art. My closet is facing a similar identity crisis. Fashion has always recycled itself, but as media turnover gets faster and faster, the industry struggles to find something genuine. As the two become further connected, is the ugly dress the new cubism, or just a desperate plea for authenticity?
In the early episodes of Friends, Rachel works at Bloomingdales in basically the same job as mine. She wails to Monica on the phone, “I just helped an 80 year old woman try on a thong! And she didn’t even buy it!” I am young, this is not my career, and at least they thought to say congratulations.