French philosopher Rene Descartes said “I think, therefore I am. ” I’ve heard women say, “I shop, therefore I am.” Philosophical shopping maven that I am, I say, “I shop, therefore I am enlightened.”
The other day I noticed two women at a clothing store, just a few aisles over from me. The younger was about 25, dark-haired and attractive in jeans and a shirt. It was obvious from the strong family resemblance that the older woman was her mother.
The daughter would hold an item of clothing up in front of her, and then turn to her mother. They weren’t speaking English, but I could tell she was asking Mom’s opinion.
The thing is, the mother was veiled. She was covered, head to toe, with just her face and hands showing.
Even without a working knowledge of Farsi, the body language and tone of voice made their conversation crystal clear.
My interpretation of actual conversation:
Daughter: “What do you think of this blouse?”
Mother: “Shows too much skin. Where is the burka section of this store?”
Daughter: “What about this one?”
Mother: “Slut! Whore! I spit on you!”
How could the daughter not know how Mom would react to her clothing choices? I had never seen either woman before. Yet I could have predicted Mom’s reaction.
What kind of response did the daughter think she was going to get?
Fantasy version of conversation:
Daughter: “Do you like this bustier?”
Mother: “Won’t your breasts look perky in that! Do they have it in my size?”
This exchange illustrates a universal truth. We daughters try our mightiest to distance ourselves from our mothers. But we still want their approval.
Different language, different culture, same dynamic.
Mothers and daughters simply should not shop together – it’s far too painful and yet often there are no alternatives. It’s 20 degrees out and my 13 year old daughter has only one long sleeved shirt she will wear. I took her shopping. I held up a basic long sleeved cotton tee shirt. Apparently, in her eyes, I was holding up a dead animal and she looked at it (and me) in total disgust and disbelief. Repeated this activity several more times. Went home empty-handed. She’ll just have to be cold this winter.
Remember how your mom said “if you keep making that face, it will freeze that way”? As the mom of 18 and 21 year old girls, I hate to tell you it DOES freeze like that. You’ll be getting that same horrified/pity-at-your-cluelessness face for years. If it’s any consolation, my older one will sometimes wear what I buy for her, so only 8 years to go for you. Hang in there!
Well, I’ve lasted this long, what’s another 8 years? Thanks for the encouragement.
When I shop with my daughters, I look for something that I would never dream wearing myself — the color, the style, everything about it. Eighty percent of the time I get a smile of approval.
Good advice (but depressing!)
Ah…memories. Thank you for bringing back the (very) few memories (thankfully) of shopping for clothes with my mother (that I haven’t subconsciously suppressed as a defense mechanism). We don’t even have the same taste in clothes for MY daughter. I’m thinking that if ever all three generations of females go shopping together, the Apocalypse would officially begin.
It must be the fate of every mother/daughter to go through this. Sigh.
I think it is. But cheer up, it could be worse. Someday, our daughters will only reject our opinions out of habit instead of youthful rebellion. 😉
Thank goodness I am a guy. Poker, beer, and pizza on friday night with my Dad. We don’t give a crap what we wear.
Right. Look for my cogent, reasoned response to this tomorrow.
Why is this only perceived as a female problem:? Can you imagine how at the age of 16 (1967) I brought home my first pair of Levi’s and was horror-struck to find my mother about to cut off the legendary red label. It was impossible at that time to explain the idea of a leaving a label on the outside of clothes. What were we thinking? . I’m still not sure, to be honest
Good point. For me it was Calvin Kleins – mom said why are you paying THEM to advertise for them? But at least your mom didn’t insist on going with you to buy the jeans so she and the saleslady could comment on the fit and your body in general.