Remember how in Tootsie, Dustin Hoffman’s character learned what it was like to be a woman by dressing as a female? I was reminded of that movie when I went shopping this past weekend at my local mall.
The Beverly Center is one of the best-known of Los Angeles’ area many big malls. The Beverly Hills – West Hollywood location brings in a lot of celebrities and wealthy folk. Despite the tiniest movie theaters in town, it’s a great place for people-watching or encountering Nicolas Cage buying a gift for his latest wife.
F, my cousin from Israel, flew into town to attend a big anniversary party. She thought she might be underdressed for the party and asked me to help her find a party dress. I decided to take her to the Beverly Center.
F is thirty years old, a funny and attractive woman. She said she wears a size 14. I took her to the Bloomingdale’s in the mall. A saleswoman told us that this Bloomingdale’s doesn’t carry any dresses in size 14.
OK, no problem. Onward. There were tons of stores in the mall. We went to Ann Taylor, DKNY, Boss, Banana Republic, Max Studio, etc., etc., etc…. No dresses in size 14. One boutique even had a sign on the window which read something like, “We don’t carry items over size 12.” It was fairly intimidating, as if they were telling us, “Please don’t even walk in here and create bad feng shui with your fat cells.”
My last resort was the mall’s Macy’s.
I have clear memories of my mother (size 16-18) dragging me to the Macy’s in New York every year for their big Columbus Day Sale. She said it was the best place to find dresses for work. I used to help her search the racks in the big-size department (located in a dark section near the restroom, hidden from view like the the crazy family member no one wants to talk about).
But at least my mother was able to find some dresses there.
Not in this Macy’s.
I was told that they didn’t carry size 14 because this store was an exclusive “boutique” Macy’s, which I guess means “No Fat People Allowed.” I asked a salesgirl if she knew any other malls where we could find a size 14.
I received a blank stare.
I saw a fashionable African-American woman in the cosmetics department who was clearly a larger size. She looked totally comfortable in herself, as do so many bigger black women. I asked her if she could help my cousin find a store for a size 14 party dress? Her demeanor changed. She looked shocked, as if I just “outed” her as a plus size woman and she would be fired immediately.
Is this what so many women have to go through — especially in places like Los Angeles? The Beverly Center had plenty of clothes for all types of men, skinny to the fattest slob in town. Shouldn’t a mall be required to at least have one store with a dress over size 12?
Men would have sued this place long ago. Women of LA unite!