Most of us dress for the first time with clothing from relatives, a significant other, or wherever we can get a piece of clothing discretely for the first time. But there comes a time when both the need, for a completely personal wardrobe and the desire for one, arises.
You can purchase from the comfort of your home online and have it delivered. Alternatively, you can go to a shop with a female friend to help with measurements and to help avoid any potential embarrassment at the counter if you are not ready yet to look at the face of the cashier and have your eyes say, “I will make this dress look even better on me than on the mannequin in the display.” It takes a while to get there (and I am not there yet myself).
We are constantly afraid of judgment by other customers or the staff working at a store. We also may be afraid of the very small risk of being seen by someone we are not ready to allow to know that part of us. Lucky for me, it has not happened yet. Luck, however, can only be on your side for so long. There comes a time when you have to start relying on your confidence. Remember that you are doing this for your own well being. Ideally, you should just not care about what others may or may not think about it as long as you are being respectful.
I have gathered enough confidence to go shopping without being too self-conscious about it, at least until a fated Friday some weeks ago.
First, a little bit about myself. I had recently moved to New Zealand and the only clothes that I had with me in my luggage were men’s clothes. The few times I’ve gone to purchase female clothing, I haven’t had meaningful glances of disapproval nor any fingers pointed or anything of that sort. Though it has happened that the cashiers sometimes look slightly nervous when they finally realize that the clothes are for me. When shopping, I have always gone as a man and not as a woman.
So after arriving in New Zealand, I went shopping. First I purchased some dresses from second-hand shops. Then I went to a general store for some footwear; I bought a pair of size 10 ballet flats and a pair of size 11 heels. These are the first heels I have ever owned. I also purchased a bra and panty set and some pantyhose.
I do have the confidence to browse and purchase clothes, but not when children are around. For instance, I really wanted to get some makeup but the aisle with makeup had a mother and her two daughters who were slightly under 10 years old, so I was not able to accomplish that part. I decided to finish my shopping for the day, so I headed to the register since I had already picked up the main items on my list. I was unlucky enough that the lady in front of me was having problems with her bank card being recognized by the system, and a small girl (about 7 years old) was barraging the cashier with non-stop questions. After some minutes waiting for the hassle with the previous customer to end, I was finally able to start passing my items through, then… it happened; that moment we all fear.
The little girl asked the cashier “Why is he buying girl’s clothes?”.
What I had feared the most happened. I always felt anxious when imagining how would I feel whenever that time would come, hearing someone directly ask and question my actions that encourage the existence of Laura. I have always thought my world would come crashing down, or that I’d get red as a tomato, or that I would just bolt out of the store, but none of those things happened.
The cashier stood there, pale, staring at the child with a panicked face, then smiling at me nervously, and looking back at the little girl once again. I just gave the child a warm smile, her question was an honest one, and you can’t blame anyone for being curious, especially a child. The little girl then looked down at the floor, then up again and said to the cashier “I guess this is one of those ‘it’s none of yo’ situations”. The cashier relaxed a bit, I paid and left slightly nervous.
I survived the ordeal, it was not as bad as I thought it would be, but nonetheless, it still had repercussions. Next time I went to get some clothes, I went to a store where you could scan your own items…in another city. In hindsight, I should not have done that. I feel Laura took several steps back from what she had achieved so far.
It’s hard to get some confidence, and it’s easy to have the little confidence you have in yourself shaken. Sometimes you just have to push through, and if possible, deal with the aftermath’s internal turmoil better than I have.