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The Girl in the Wal-Mart Shirt

When I talked about weight loss I mentioned how I was never outright made fun of for my weight. I'm always shocked when I hear people talk about their HS experience because man, kids can be SO mean. But that's not to say I was never made fun of in HS - I totally was.
When my family moved to the Memphis area it was the summer before my freshman year and I was so excited because everyone is starting fresh in high school,. or so I thought. I had no idea that my high school already had formalized cliques set up and I never had a chance of being invited in. Even though I was chubby but still at a healthy weight I didn't really work out much and had never been one to exercise for fun so I wasn't "fit" and all freshman had to take gym - I dreaded gym because it highlighted how much I didn't fit in. Not only could I not run as fast or do as many sit up at the other girls but I had developed earlier than most of them too - I was 14 and wearing a 36C bra and that quickly got noticed in the locker room. But what also got noticed in the locker room was the label on my clothes - and they weren't from the "cool" places to shop.
You have to remember that size inclusion has come a loooooooong was since 1998. In 1998 no one though badly of Abercrombie and Fitch for only catering to thin, preppy, white people and that was THE place to shop at my high school. Other acceptable places to shop were Express, Wet Seal, and Delia's - non of which at the time carried my size. And even if they did I was 14 and my parents controlled where my clothes came from  and I love my Dad to death but he is what I refer to as "fiscally conservative" and doesn't really value being "cool" so $40 for a top was considered expensive in my house and I didn't have a closet full of them - heck I'm not even sure if at 14 I had any $40 tops. So at 14 my clothes came from some of the same places my parents shopped - Target, JcPenny, and GASP Wal-Mart.
And that my friends is how one day I found myself being made fun of for wearing a shirt from Wal-Mart. I look back and wish that 14 year old was sassy enough to respond back that at least my idea of fashion wasn't copying a mannequin at the mall but alas my snarky sass is a talent I've honed over time. I wish at 14 I had the wisdom to understand that some brat who never worked a day in her life had no business passing judgment on where people can or cannot buy their clothes and shame on her for thinking that she was better than millions of hardworking Americans but again, I was 14. So, what I did feel was shame - shame that my clothes came from where "poor people" got their clothes (seriously, F that attitude) , shame that my parents clearly weren't as rich as the other parents because they didn't flaunt their spending ( completely false BTW, I grew up in a VERY nice house - my parents just had different priorities), shame that I couldn't fit into the cool kid clothes. I literally cried that nigh at home and bless my mom she never bought me another clothing item from Wal-Mart for the rest of HS but it was too late,  I was the girl in the Wal-Mart shirt and I was never going to be cool.

Top and Shoes: Wal-mart
Sunnies: Shop Studio DIY
Earrings: Baublebar
Jeans: Torrid
Purse: Kate Spade Outlet
At 34 my priorities have changed a lot and I can laugh at this story because while a lot of people I went to high school with turned into successful adults and most of us now lead similar lives to those of our parents some people just turned out to be  . . . not so great. But as a blogger I sometimes see that high school mentality. Wal-Mart is apparently still not a cool place to shop even though stores with similar prices points, clothes made in China and crap quality are perfectly ok and even "cool". Now that I have my own house in the suburbs mortgage and grown-up bills to pay I like my dad like a good bargain. I don't mind paying $150 for a dress I really like that's good quality and I know I'll get a lot of wear out of but I'm also not afraid to buy a shirt from Wal-Mart.
Style is not about where you can buy your clothes - you either have it or you don't. And while you can totally learn style and develop a sense of what looks good together and what doesn't it would be a mistake to think that your body type or budget limits that ability.

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  1. Love this whole post. And ditto. I follow style bloggers and have a clothing Pinterest board, but the understanding of what is "cool" or "fashionable" has always pretty much eluded me. I can only recall one incident where I was mocked (by a close friend, of all people) for what I wore, but there was a distinct financial level required for the cool kids, and it was made very clear that no other criteria would allow entry into the popular cliques. And in my school, it was often the teachers who led the way in recognizing certain kids as inherently better than others ... usually based on family name or wealth. Which is pretty awful. I sometimes wish I could go back and respond differently, with the wisdom and confidence I have now. But I supposed I wouldn't be the person I am if I'd had different experiences while growing up, and I think I'm a pretty decent human being!


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