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You Want How Much on That Street?

I have a hard time shopping in certain places in the city. Montana Avenue is close to my home and yet I hardly ever go there. I feel like I’m Julia Roberts in that scene from Pretty Woman where she goes shopping in Beverly Hills and no one will help her and stares at her clothing. The thing is I don’t have Richard Gere handing me $100 bills to go shopping with. I look “shlumfy” and I definitely don’t have the money for even things on sale. You know it’s $225 marked down to $175. Laugh. “Such a deal!”

But this blog is about my self image. The exploration of my continued intimidation to go shopping-even window-in certain parts of the city. I wonder even if I had the money, would I still feel out of place?

My mother wasn’t like that at all. She happily shopped anywhere and enjoyed it. She didn’t spend money like water, but instead preferred to collect wonderful pieces to add to her clothing collection. Looking fabulous was terribly important to my mother. She just didn’t feel good if she walked out of the house without one her classic looks, be it unusual jewelry or a beret. When we were somewhere and I found “a piece,” she would say, “Oh just get it.” She was famous for telling me “Oh just get it” for all sorts of things and often I had to say no. The price was prohibitive or the impulsive “just get it” wasn’t a wise choice.

When I was a young woman in my 20’s, I worked for a wedding photographer and was sent to scout a house for a location shoot located in Brentwood. The home was of the Mother of the Bride and she took me on a tour of the house. She proceeded to brag to me about all the accomplishments of her daughters, their college Ivy League educations, their ability to speak fluent Chinese, their beauty, their talent, etc. I felt amazingly small as I was walking around, thinking I hadn’t accomplished anything and had no resume for my life to speak of.

When I returned to my mother, I told of her of my discomfort and she proceeded to tell me very firmly, “You are just as good as those girls! They only thing that separates you and them is MONEY.” It was very important to her that I knew that I wasn’t inferior-our differences were only because of money and the opportunities it can afford some people. I really appreciate that lesson. However only parts of the lesson stuck.

The problem with shopping in certain areas is about how I feel about myself and my current weight. You see I’m struggling with being too “zoftig.” When I walked down Montana today (with a friend who has no problem browsing there), I saw among the crowds, really skinny women. Some of them too thin. I saw faces with too many procedures and clothes with price tags I couldn’t even fathom. I felt I was in a different world. I will happily admit every sales person we met was open and kind. No, this is about my feelings about myself and my sense of not belonging.

Part of my problem is that I don’t want to fit into the world of “too much.” I don’t want to drink lemon/maple syrup/cayenne pepper drinks to fast my weight off. I don’t want to get procedures done to my body, (although those laser lipo offers do intrigue me…) and I can’t afford the many items offered in the stores. I wouldn’t be comfortable spending sums of money on designer anything.

Perhaps my problem is that I’m not comfortable in parts of the city that seem to value different ideals than I do. But we live in L.A. and there are so many places we can hang out. We don’t have to all be in the same place. So I can work with my insecurity, but I can also maintain a sense of unbelonging-by choice.

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