It’s hard to stay skinny in L.A. with all this thick skin

Author: Single. Approachable. Girl.
July 9, 2010


There are a lot of things to be self conscious about when you’re a girl. It’s even worse if you’re a girl in L.A. So imagine what it’s like to be a girl in L.A. with poor fashion sense.

I find the only way to survive in L.A. is to wear it like it’s cool….even though it’s not (at least in my case).

Last night that theory was shot down in a blaze of glory. Before I get into what happened, I’ll give you a little background on my history with L.A. fashion…

Let’s take sorority rush, for example…my first of many fashion fopaux in Los Angeles. It took place in the week leading up to Freshman year. The panhellenic board had provided a dress code list for each day of rush. This seemed silly to the girl fresh off the Northwest flight from Detroit. “Are the sorority houses really going to pick girls based on what they are wearing?” (ahh. so naive. so adorable.) .

According to the sheet, Day 1 was “Casual.”

Sweet. I had just the outfit. I paired my new black, stretchy-T from Express with my iridescent green draw-string cargo flood pants from Old Navy and “dressed it up” with my new silver Tiffany’s tear-drop necklace and mesh ring – both graduation gifts. Now, let’s see…if only I had a pair of black sandals to match…Oh yeah!! I almost forgot about my black, Speedo massager-bottom sandals. Technically, they were for the dorm showers, but they would have to do. Then, I went one step further by blow-drying my hair and applying make-up (AKA, mascara). Lookin’ pretty damn good…

Just then, the Orange County girls from across the hall (who had offered to walk with me) knocked on my door.

As I opened the door the girls looked me up and down and immediately started to look frantic.

“Go get dressed! It’s time to go and we don’t want to be late!!” (They were both wearing floral skirts, blouses and heels)

S.A.G.: “Oh…well, I am dressed…”

The O.C. girls were quiet and didn’t know what to say. They looked confused and horrified (for me) but also a tad relieved, as if they were thinking, “one less girl to get in my way at Pi Phi…”

So now we’re walking through campus. Me, the two O.C. girls and one of their boyfriends. At one point I bend down to pick something up and the boyfriend says to me, “You should really be wearing a thong with those pants.” You know it’s bad when your fashion sense doesn’t stand up against a guy in Sigma Chi sweatshirt…

I was dropped by 3 of the top houses that day. L.A. is harsh.

So cut to last night. I got home from an exhausting business trip and I’m trying to pump myself up to go out to a colleague’s, going-away party. I feel gross, fat and sleepy (not a good combo) and I’m house-sitting for a friend so I don’t have any of my own “bar clothes” to put on. But, I decide to man-up.  I wash my face, put on make-up and try to find something “inspiring” to wear in my friend’s closet. I come across a large, plaid shirt/dress. It’s baggy (bonus to the fat-feeling) and it’s blue (good color for me). Sold! I put it on with some leggings, throw my hair in a ponytail and get on my way to the party.

When I get there, I’m feeling pretty good. I’m chatting up everyone I see, I’m feeling confident and happy. I’ve successfully turned moody mood around! I was killing it!

At least, that’s what I thought…

30 minutes before the bar closes I walk up to some girlfriends and one of them says, “[S.A.G.], We need to talk. This shirt you’re wearing is nice and all, but you’re never allowed to wear it again.”

Another girlfriend chimes in with “I was going to tell her that too, but I was going to wait until another day…in private.”

The third girlfriend agrees and says, “It’s just that we know how cute your figure is and you’re not showing it off at all. This shirt is just not doing you any favors.”

I instinctively laugh the whole thing off. I explain how I was just happy to make it out to the bar at all and that I understood why they didn’t like my shirt.

But I suppose the self-conscious monster was starting to show because I mentioned that conversation to a guy on my way out of the bar. I suppose I was digging for a pick-me-up compliment along the lines of “you would look good in a paper bag…” What I got was honesty – God love him: “Yeah. I was thinking this wasn’t your most flattering outfit, but I was not going to say anything.”

I stopped by a Korean BBQ food truck on my way home. L.A. is harsh.

If I wasn’t self-conscious leaving the house that night, I sure as hell was now. On the car ride home I just kept thinking about the hours I was floating around that bar in an over-sized plaid shirt-dress in a state of blissful ignorance, all the while boys and girls were picturing me on that “Citizen’s Arrest” page in US Weekly. Can’t a girl have one bad outfit night?! Not one?

I was pretty much “over it” (that’s an LA term) until I was instant messaging with a guy today and he drops this little diddy:

“You were flirting too much [last night].”

S.A.G.: “What? Are you saying that as a joke? or are you making a serious critique of my bar etiquette?”

Critic #5: “You were flirting a lot. Unapproachable to me.”

OK. Well there you have it. My outfit sucked and I was taking to too many guys, therefore making myself unapproachable to other guys.

No wonder everyone in L.A. has self-esteem issues. If you don’t show up to a party because you’re feeling lame, people say that you’re lame. If you show up, but you’re in a bad outfit, they tell you you’re in a bad outfit. If you show up and hang out with only girlfriends, you’re anti-social. If you show up and talk to too many boys, you’re flirting too much.

And don’t get me started on thong-appropriate attire!

I know that my friends said these things because they like me and don’t want me walking around looking overly friendly in mumu dresses. They certainly didn’t mean to hurt my feelings, and maybe on a different day it wouldn’t have bothered me at all.

But it did get me thinking about how I always feel 100x better about myself when I step off the Northwest flight at DTW airport. Just an adorably naive girl, in black stretchy pants, a white t-shirt and puffy North Face vest circa 1999.

Except now I compromise and wear cheeky panties.

4 Responses to “It’s hard to stay skinny in L.A. with all this thick skin”

  1. Rose Says:

    I’m out of words to write anything S.A.G.I’ll try …

    I’m sure those girls needed to tell you then and there to wear you down. Otherwise you know, they could have told you at the end of the bar scene.

    At least it’s okay with gf’s. But a guy commenting on a woman’s fashion sense, asking to wear thongs is sooooooo very lame and rude. Leave fashion to women and don’t be so girlie telling a girl what would look best on her and what won’t !

    And about the guy who said you were flirting too much, omg, he’s the one with serious self-esteem issues and needs to pull others down. I’d have told him on his face, some guys who don’t have the nerve to approach a girl, always blame her for being too shy or too flirty. How sad.

    I don’t know what his intention was when he said that ! To pull you down, ‘coz he was disappointed. Hmmm.

    Sorry you’re feeling low now.But I’m sure this too shall pass, be the happy, confident self you’ve always been. After all we don’t need to have fashion gurus around us who critique/evaluate our dressing all the time. I’m sure there are many normal people in L.A, who don’t care too much about fashion.

  2. Single. Approachable. Girl. Says:

    Hi Rose. I appreciate your comment and how protective you are of me and my feelings, but I’m going to stand up for my friends on this one. I know that no one intended to hurt my feelings. L.A. seems to be an environment where looks, fashion and actions are critiqued at a certain level and people are free to share their opinions. Having harsh opinions in L.A. is the norm and most of the time I just think it is funny. We critique the celebrities we see, the girls sitting next to us at the bar, the food that they are eating etc. We just have to remember that it’s not really a personal attack on us. It’s just the way it is L.A. and I love living here. I know that I probably looked silly that night and I may have even over-compensated in my conversations. My friend’s comments came from a good place, even the flirting one. I just find humor in the delivery and I think I had forgotten to put on my thick skin under that plaid shirt/dress:)

  3. A.B. Says:

    oh man. im so sorry! i was drunk and didn’t filter my thoughts…and i ment it in the best way possible like “you have a smoking hot body that you are hiding under that shirt. next time flaunt what your mamma gave you!!” so sorry if i bummed you out. you are a GORGEOUS, CHARMING and BEYOND FABULOUS person!!

    i heart you S.A.G, and now i feel like a total LA asshole (which i SWEAR im not!)

    please forgive my drunk blunderings!

  4. Heather Says:

    I don’t know you so all that well (in fact, I think we’ve only crossed paths once in real life) so what I’m going to say is neither motivated by any effort to save your feelings nor is it to knock you down because of some catty energy.

    When I was 16, I had this boss that was very disliked by a lot of my co-workers…more than anything because he calls it like it is…blunt..insensitive..brutally honest..tactless…different words with different connotations but at the end of the day…it means more or less the same thing.

    For whatever the reason, John took a liking to me as an employee. I’m sure more than anything because I took (and still do to this day) my job very seriously. So instead of sitting on my derriere chit-chatting on the phone all day long, I actually worked.

    At any rate, the other girls did not like me. I was targeted as the black sheep and treated like an outcast. Why? Because I had very good work ethics. So no matter how hard I attempted to make peace…covered for others because they needed the day off at the 11th hour…gave up shifts because someone needed extra money…or kept the place in spic-and-span order so that they didn’t have to pick up for my slack…it remained to no avail. I was and will always be the boss’ pet…and ergo the enemy.

    One day, it got so bad that I became emotional (maybe it was PMS who knows), all I know is that John unexpectedly walked in and caught me in my moment of vulnerability. He said something to me that day that frankly has changed my life. He said “Heather, I’m going to share this with you and the sooner you get it, the more happy you’ll be. No matter how hard you try and no matter what you do, someone somewhere is going to be unhappy with you. It’s pointless to try to satisfy everybody. The best thing you can do is just be true to yourself and not worry so much what people think.” It was not rocket science but for whatever the reason it hit me like an epiphany. I have never been more liberated.

    Now I must admit, this is something much easier said than done and that the average person would not hear it and embrace it overnight like I somehow managed to do. But I am telling you that that is where your self-consciousness and insecurities are fundamentally rooted. You worry too much what others think.

    Now caring what people think is not always a bad thing because if we didn’t, we would all tell our bosses to go take a jump in the lake now and then and end up losing our jobs; or for some of us, we might end up breaking the law and risk imprisonment. My point is, instead of going to the extreme of anti-social behavior, just remember those very words…NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY AND NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO, SOMEONE IS GOING TO BE UNHAPPY WITH YOU (or in your case, with your choices in fashion and your overly flirty behavior). You cannot please everyone so instead of living your life for others, just live for the person who is going to be with you 24/7 365 days out of the year…YOU.

    So my suggestion is this…which you’ve already embraced…admit that you don’t have a fashion sense. Some people suck at math, some people are not born athletically gifted, some people cannot carry a tune worth mentioning…what is so wrong in admitting, you know what, having an eye for fashion isn’t my forte?!? Once you accept this, then instead of taking the “adventurous” route, walk the conservative path of imitation. You see something in a fashion magazine or a television show you like, just imitate it. It doesn’t have to be identical but just close enough. People magazine is notorious for taking a photo of a celebrity wearing some trendy outfits and then giving you suggestion for some similar more economical solutions.

    Think of it this way, if I was musically gifted, I write songs and perform them on stage. If I don’t have that musical “intelligence” in my genes, I’m going to sing popular songs that have already been written by someone else in my car, in my shower, or at a Karaoke bar (where showing you have no musical talent is acceptable) It’s no different. Don’t reinvent the wheel only to have others criticize you especially if your self-esteem is already lacking. People who suck at algebra have no business enrolling in Calculus if they don’t want to fail.

    Now if you have a stronger self-esteem, I would say, your new mantra should be…”Beauty is the eyes of the beholder and you’re entitled to your opinion but I’m happy with my choices thank you very much.” But you don’t (at least not about fashion) so don’t kid yourself.

    We all have our insecurities…you will never catch me playing team sports…because I suck badly enough that I don’t want to ruin it for everyone else. I’ll hike…I’ll do yoga…I’ll zipline…I’ll snorkel…and I’m even bold enough to get this…go out on a dance floor and dance by myself while it’s completely empty…but I won’t do anything where my poor eye-to-hand coordination will negatively impact whether a team will win or lose.

    I’m sure you’re not at all insecure about your writing ability. If you were, you wouldn’t have posted this blog. That you’re insecure about your fashion sense based on your history is not only normal…it’s human. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead just say, you know what I don’t have a sense for fashion and that’s perfectly ok. That’s what fashion magazines are for…to help the less fashionably savvy.

    Take a look at Gwyneth Paltrow and that Gawd awful black gothic mesh dress she wore to the Oscars in 2002. It accentuated her bad posture, made her breasts saggy and took what is normally an attractive woman and made her look like malnourished vampire (and not in a trendy Twilight kind of way either). And heck, she had a stylist! If these people who do this for a living can make bad choices, you my Single Approachable Girl are not invincible. Just be thankful, it was just your 4 friends giving you constructive feedback vs. the majority of the 2002 Oscar viewing audiences laughing at your fashion absurdity and the tabloid ripping you to shreds for your wardrobe choices.

    Anyway, not sure if what I’ve shared has helped you or hurt you. But just remember, at the end of the day…it’s just one woman’s opinion, nothing more. And you know what they say about opinions…like a**holes, everyone has one ;)

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