As my memories of Maryclaire shifted and moved back in time to the mid-1980s, I moved from the web page of Ann Taylor to that of Laura Ashley. I scan the dresses and home furnishings of this company for the first time in twenty-five years. Although Maryclaire's bedroom was romantic and unapologetically feminine, Laura Ashley was a precursor for that shabby-chic look that came to define Maryclaire in the early 1990s. In fact, when we lived together in Boston, we would occasionally visit the Laura Ashley boutique on Newbury Street, now gone, dreaming of a day when we could purchase those designer clothes without regard for the price. As I look today at the web site, I recognize--with a bit of amazement--that I am now a professor earning a decent salary, and so I can purchase such frivolous fashion fare at will. I resolve to buy a dress in Maryclaire's memory. I admit, this is commercial therapy gone absolutely haywire.
Alas, I am forced even in this--admittedly immature and futile--mourning ritual to confront my feelings about BED. Laura Ashley no longer produces those elaborate flowered dresses of the mid-1980s, I am surprised to find. And so, I settle on the space dye shift dress, which is retro and so edgier than the designs I remember perusing with Maryclaire. It is dark gray and turquoise fitted sleeveless jumper intended to be worn over a dark turtleneck. However, the fashion industry conspires against women whose bodies do not conform to an idealized set of measurements. I just miss the cut, for I am a size 18, and Laura Ashley does not serve women who are larger than a size 16.
This commercial observance during a nostalgic shopping trip designed to jog memories of my dead friend forces me reflect on whether or not I should accept my body--and perhaps even love it--as it is? Or do I take my inability to find clothes that fit as a signifier of how overweight I have become and now work hard enough--via diet and exercise--so that I can purchase a Laura Ashley dress? I do not seek to resolve this question; I want only to acknowledge that BED taints my everyday life in ways I have not always recognized.