The Expanding Pear

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I submitted this story to the Your Story competition in Writer’s Digest, but it didn’t make the final cut.  Instead of sulking, I’ve decided to celebrate my first submission of the year by sharing it with my readers. Meanwhile, I’m already working on two more pieces to submit in other competitions.

This piece was entered into contest #42, which gave the prompt of starting a story with the phrase “I’ve got to get out of these clothes . . . fast.”

– – –

“I’ve got to get out of these clothes . . . fast,” I mutter.

My muffin top looks like the baker spooned too much dough into the paper cup.  A year ago this size would have fit just fine, but now it threatens to give me a blood clot. As if that isn’t depressing enough, I’m in this predicament because my favorite jeans split right up the rear seam when I bent over to pick up the cat last night.

The fluorescent lights of the dressing room drains my skin of all color and makes me think I should have worn at least a little make-up.  The jeans I’ve stuffed myself into bunch up under my hips and the back pockets refuse to lay flat or straight. Nothing ever fits right.  Half the time I don’t know why I even try.  Clothes are made for women too afraid to eat or fans of masochism.

I can hardly look at myself in the mirror, yet I stare and wonder why my curves are so ugly.  I bubble out like a pear with my bulging gut, back fat, and wide thighs.  Great.  I look like a fruit I don’t like to eat.  That’s right, skinny on top and global on the bottom.  And I just keep getting more juicy and plump! Of course, my sister looks like a runway model with her beanpole frame and bright blue eyes.  Where was the magic gene fairy when I was born?

The too tight jeans dig into my thighs and as I try to shimmy out of them. The waistband just won’t stretch another inch. Honestly, why does all the fat settle just above the knee?  Giving up on the pants, I try to wiggle out of the shirt, but the shoulder seams clamp down the moment I move my arms.

Pop! Pop! Pop!

Oh, no!  Was that the sleeve?

Now stuck with jeans wrapped around my legs and my arms cinched in a shirt that will not come off, my confidence deflates as though it’s just sprung a leak. Too bad my balloon butt can’t do the same thing. Tears burn my eyes and I slowly sink into the bench.

Why can’t I be beautiful?

A sick feeling of disappointment churns in my stomach.  It doesn’t matter what I do. I’ll never be a Size 2 or the blonde who flaunts it because she has the right to feel pretty.  So, why not give me extra fries with that large chocolate shake, please.

A little tap sounds on the dressing room door.

“Ma’am, are you okay?”

I wipe my tears and suck in a deep breath. No.

“Yes, I’m fine.”

– – –

c.b.w. 2012

44 thoughts on “The Expanding Pear

    • This is why I wrote it. I think every woman feels some degree of this whenever they go shopping for clothes. We don’t like to admit it, but those thoughts are there (sometimes very loud and sometimes just a whisper).

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  1. OMG!!! Have you been inside a fitting room with me? I don’t go in those things any more. I dislike shopping-nothing fits this odd-shaped body of mine-not even shoes. I shake my head at all the money I’ve spent because I bought something that was on sale, not just because I liked it, or the amount of times I just threw on whatever, because really, the kids don’t care what you wear, and all the cute, expensive clothes that I’ll never be able to afford ($150 for a blouse???) or wear (why do the expensive shops stop at size 12-and consider it an extra-large?). I’m glad jeans, which are just as tough to buy, generally last longer. Now that I’m not going to school, I can wear the souvenir T-shirts that I’ve had for years. They hold up well. I don’t think that there is anything more devastating to the influence of kids growing up than the fashion/entertainment industry. If they escape parents without the dreaded “I’m not good enough” program, society gladly implants it in them.

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    • Its amazing how industries that are so far away from my every day life can be so influential on something as simple as buying a pair of jeans (that fit). I just want clothes to fit!

      When I was younger I struggled with body image and to some degree I still do. Sometimes logic can’t even save us from wondering why we don’t look the magazine cover. I suppose the real trick is constantly reminding yourself that you are a real person and you’re beautiful just as you are.

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  2. I’m reading your story on my phone while waiting for my double cheeseburger at Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and wonder if you didnt follow me to Target on my last shopping trip ! Who knows what Readers Digest was looking for, but I would have selected this story because so many people out there can relate to it. And ain’t it funny how clothes look like they fit on the hanger yet we all know by the tag that it won’t and still we try anyway.
    Oh and if you do come across the issue where the winner was selected, will you share the topic with us?

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    • If you follow the link, it’ll take you to the website that hosts the submissions for the Your Story series of competitions. 🙂

      I wrote this story because I know its a truth that rattles inside of every woman’s head. Even the skinny twigs nitpick on their bodies. Perhaps, someday we will learn beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. 🙂

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    • Thanks! 🙂

      I’m starting to wonder what is an 8, 10, or 12. It’s different everywhere, yet we put so much emphasis and meaning on that number. If we took the numbers away would that change how the body is perceived? Hmmm . . . a point to ponder today. 🙂

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  3. I’m surprised you didn’t win the contest. It’s a story so many women can relate with. Hmmm maybe it was a guy judge and he just didn’t “get it.” I don’t think men ruminate as much as women about their shapes, or cry in dressing rooms. Sigh. Far too many women do. I thought it was a touching story.

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    • Thank you. 🙂

      I think I may have a struck a nerve with this one. For some, its a touchy subject that’s kept very private. Perhaps, it dug too deeply for a more mainstream competition. Either way, I’m proud of it and glad to hear its resonating with people. 🙂

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  4. I liked the story, it was touching, somehow. Also made me think of the obesity epidemic that’s spreading in the western world … it’s a huge, ticking time bomb, methinks.

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  5. Wonderful story! It definitely strikes a chord with me and, likely, with thousands of women. It is hard to walk into a store, try on those clothes and not look anything like the perfect mannequins in the store window or the models in the store’s commercials. Even though, logically, you know you won’t look like them. Somehow you think you’ll look pretty close. This is beautifully written. Nice job!

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    • Thank you! 🙂

      It is strange how we think we’re going to look the same in those clothes as the mannequins. We must be hardwired to believe that after years and years of advertisements pummeling our senses.

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    • Thank you. 🙂

      That’s exactly what I was go for. Women struggle on a daily basis with accepting their bodies, but there are also those that are debilitated by this struggle. The distance between those struggles is closer than we think.

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    • That’s a safe bet! Yet, at the same time judgment is often clouded by what a lifetime of social norms tell us. I’ve struggled with this in the past, and still do to some extent, but I don’t let it get me down anymore. 🙂 I am who I am and I love that person.

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  6. Good for you for getting back in the saddle with sending out further submissions! I liked the story. I second the commenter above who said maybe it was a guy that rejected it that didn’t get it. It’s not something I can personally relate to, but I do think it’s sad that women are expected to conform to this perfect notion of beauty, and that affects their self-esteem so much. I don’t exactly dig the stick thin look, anyway. Great job!

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    • Thank you! 🙂

      There could be so many reasons why it didn’t make the cut, but I’m proud of it nonetheless because it portrays a truth so many people understand. That’s always my goal when I write.

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  7. Too bad your story didn’t get picked for the contest. It seems to have struck a chord with so many, even me! I wouldn’t consider myself pear-shaped, more like an apple or a thick tree with no waist, which makes it very hard to find pants that fit because whatever fits the waist are so baggy in the butt and thighs and whatever fits the thighs and hips cannot be fastened at the waist! Actually, men’s pants are better suited to my shape except I’d have to cut off about a foot of material from the bottoms!

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    • My body has a lot of curves, so I totally relate with being unable to find pants that fit right. When the waist fits, the hips and butt don’t. And when the hips and butt fit, the waist is all wrong! Ugh!

      It’s funny you mention men’s clothing. Men’s t-shirts actually fit me better than women’s because they are the right length. I do not understand this super long t-shirt fad afflicting women’s fashion!

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  8. I thought it was very relate-able to at least 95% of women in the world! Was there a word limit on the stories? I would have loved to hear how she got out of that predicament … to help me in the future. 🙂

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  9. Hey, great story! It’s very descriptive. You did a great job of making us feel like we’re right there in that dressing room with her, experiencing her pain and disappointment. My favorite line was, “Clothes are made for women too afraid to eat or fans of masochism.” I hope you’ll continue to enter more contests since you’re really good. Have you ever done the 24hr short story contest on WritersWeekly.com? They’re held quaterly. Submissions are open now for the summer contest.

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  10. Excellent story! Like everyone else already mentioned, it definitely strikes a chord for the vast majority of women because we’ve all been there. Especially with pants. Thanks for sharing this with us! Hope your next two stories turn out just as well and enjoy success with the judges!

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