January 06, 2006

We're All Pink Ladies

I am excited today. Why, you may well ask? Well, this Saturday I will take part in a very special event—so special, in fact, it only happens twice a year. It brings love, happiness, and magic into every girl’s life. It makes our dreams a reality.

It is the Victoria’s Secret Semi-Annual Sale.

Maybe you don’t partake in this fiesta of life. Perhaps you prefer to buy your smalls at Target or JC Penney. But for us girls who want top quality goods at a Target price, we plan our shopping date the minute we get the flyer in the mail. We call our girlfriends and organize whole field trips, complete with cramming six into a car and getting up at the crack of dawn for the best possible selection (as many have known the agony of arriving on the last week of the sale only to find two 38-As and a frayed ostrich-feather garter lying on the tablecloth). At this special time of the year, the skinny black-clad cashiers are not just wandering around aimlessy; their purpose during this whole shindig is to hand you a plastic shopping bag (that can, and probably will, hold 57 different items) and to subtly threaten to find your size with the pink paper tape measure slung around their necks. These girls are prepared for battle. I especially love the tape measures; they’re like the foot-sizers in Payless: You don’t have to use them, but just know that the truth is there, in case you ever need it.

The store looks different for these precious few weeks, too; I was wary when my beloved VS went the way of stripey-canvas mannequins and soulless pink polka-dotted dogs, a la The Gap. I was ready to dismiss it as a summer thing, a way to draw in the younger generation, the A&F crowd—the people who were zygotes when I was in middle school. Thankfully, VS has since tempered its “cute” image slightly, and the pre-teen movement is kept to one room only, and is mainly filled with comfy jammies and jasmine-cucumber body sprays.

The next room is where the magic happens. The scary thong displays (Dear VS- You CANNOT display a thong on a mannequin that has no butt cheeks. Get hip, guys. Ow. –Love, Beedoo) have been taken down, and in their place looms rows and rows of circular tables bearing bras, panties, and assorted underthings in all sizes. Best of all, they have been sorted according to size, so no disappointing self-hatred when you fall in love with an A-cup. Go directly to your table. If you’re lucky, you will have a second table. Don’t worry if you are more well-endowed than most (pandas), this is the time the company brings out its big guns. No amount of fabric has been spared. Now you too can wear what those skanky blond toddlers are wearing. Your boobies will not be denied.

I always go with a practical goal in mind: a new work bra, something seamless for the tight tops, a convertible for summer dresses. I never plan to buy the cute bras. Nobody plans on the cute bras. They are the accidental pregnancies of the world; the adorable little pink thing you never knew you always wanted. And they are many. The best way to operate is to grab the sensible bras first, that way, you can immerse yourself in the lace, garters, sequins and (yes) fur until the sweet shopping trip is over. There doesn’t seem to be a limit on how many items you can try on at once; I suppose it would be lunacy to try to limit these glamour-hungry women to a pair apiece, even for the sake of expediency. Especially since they’ll let four of you in one dressing room, if you tell them you’re related.

The trying-on process is the best damn experience a woman can have standing up. I know a lot of people tell you they hate trying on clothes, hate the lighting, the stall, the damn mirror with its stupid reflection--this is the case with any clothing item except bras. No woman will tell you that her boobs are her worst feature, if only for the fact that in this room, in this light, they are the most beautiful pair in the world. In here, they become breasts. This is why bras are magical. With the right bra, a woman forgets the inconvenient, back-breaking task of carrying around her heavy chest all day, forgets the pain, the awkwardness, the bumping into things, the shelf where the food lands—and sees only the pure beauty God has lavished on her front. Any size, any age—these things will stand up at attention and employ scientific principles in ways Mr. Wizard even never thought of.* Surface tension was born in a lace demi. You look good. You look hot. YOU… are a porn star.

Even the room makes us feel sexy—the pink striped wallpaper, the fancy oval mirror—it’s practically a cathouse. We don’t get this same feeling from the pegboard and faux-pine walls of Old Navy, and sadly, we harsh our own bodies for their mistake. But in here, we aren’t ourselves. We’re Miss Fancy preparing for her next lapdance. A sex kitten waiting to be stroked. You put on the red bra and kink one leg up on the little silk bench, arching your foot to imagine the heels. Maybe you’ll pile all the hair on top of your head, and make the Marilyn Monroe sultry-sneeze face? You put on the blue one and see how far you can bend over before they fall out. You spend five minutes with a bra in each hand, telling yourself you have to choose between them, fully knowing you’ll end up buying both. You can always return one later, after the feeling has worn off. If you really want to be economical, take at least one friend with you, and go through the pile together, adding up the pros and cons (the whiners in the dressing room line who think you’re taking too long can just shut the hell up, because you know they’re going to do the same damn thing when it’s their turn). The antics and bonding in here are not unlike those of the women’s restroom (women know they are more fun in packs), and will leave you giggling all the way up to the cash register. You gladly hand over your gold Angels card, because your total is the only number associated with your body that doesn’t judge you.

And that’s the reason you tried on the thong.

The reason we buy these things is not to impress men, to entice men—they’re for us. They’re for the way they make us feel. We leave that store with a pink and black handle bag feeling like Queen of All Sex. We don’t want the faceless hardbody, we want our own body—and if we feel that it’s pretty, we might share it with boys. The marketing hasn’t figured this out yet, unfortunately; no woman watches Tyra Banks writhing on a chaise-lounge in nothing but sheer mesh and ribs and runs to the nearest mall. That’s for men. That’s for the men to get their woman something nice. That’s for the gift he thinks will keep on giving. They have no idea we wear it when we’re alone.

But we do.

*Maybe he did, but I don’t want to think of Mr. Wizard that way.

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