‘The Figure For-ummm…What Are You Wearing?’

In The 80's on April 25, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Darla and I drive the twenty-five minutes home to Norwalk. It’s dark by the time we get back, even though it isn’t yet seven pm. The strip mall where Body Design sits is bustling with ‘just got paid’ Friday night shoppers. The parking lot is full, red tail-lights and white exhaust  fumes billowing into the frosty night air.

A turquoise blue neon sign spells out ‘Body Design’ in script, hanging above the front door, sandwiched between ‘Joe’s World Of Golf’ and Jet Variety. One side of the store window, which we snag a spot in front of is busy with classic dance related graphics: silhouettes of ballerinas doing plies and pirouettes, wearing tutus and ballet slippers secured to their perfect, pointy feet with silky ribbons wrapped beautifully from their slender ankles to their dainty calves, like vines on a trellis. These dancers are feminine to a tee: tiny, delicate sparrows who have the good grace not to take up space, girls whose every movement emulates a single ripple in still waters, or a chiffon scarf in a summer breeze. Though often  quiet,they spar constantly with swords of discipline, denying themselves the pleasures of food and drink and leisure and fun: I imagine all of them to be impossibly petite and fluent in french. This is the dream being sold on one side of the store


The other side of the store’s floor to ceiling window is why Darla and I – two girls, who take up space, love leisure, can be loud, eat pizza and drink beer without apology, is the reason we’re here. ‘Our’ side displays posters of fitness models and celebrities, decked out in spandex bodysuits, tights, leg warmers and headbands- in colors spanning the rainbow. These are posted beside Aerobics class schedules and 800 numbers for vitamins and various juice diets ‘that work like magic!’ Sale prices and brands (‘Danskin! 20% Off! Capezio! Just In!’) are written on the glass in neon chalk. The models in the ads have big hair and wear tons of makeup, even as they are seemingly in the midst of working out. Just like we will. 

We enter in a clamor, adjusting coats and purses, the sound of chimes announcing our arrival. We’re  greeted by a saleswoman, an older lady with salt-and-pepper hair,  wearing cat’s-eye shaped glasses- a rhinestone chain attached and a sensible gray wool dress. She’s parked at the register.

“May I help you, girls?” she asks, in a croaky, veteran cigarette smoker voice. I bet there are no wire hangers in here.

“Where are your coolest bodysuits, and stuff to wear at the gym?” asks Darla, animatedly, waving her arms. Some customers glance over at her, the walking commotion. Darla continues:

“We’re starting at the Figure Forum on Monday night and…” blah blah. I’m sure the woman wanted our whole life story. Thank god we got here when we did, as she’s obviously on the edge of her seat.

I don’t think I’ve ever answered the question “may I help you?”  with any answer other than, “No, thank you.”

I like to be left alone to peruse, and can’t stand anyone hovering, no matter how good their intentions. I have a way of shopping that utilizes a two-second approval/check size/dive for the price tag/ buy or reject/ system that works for me. Darla, on the other hand, volunteers for suggestions,will try on anything-and model it for the rest of the store- modesty be damned!  She’ll also pay top-dollar if she likes something -regardless of the fact that she’s usually broke. Between her parents and siblings she never runs out of people to borrow money from. We’ve been here for less than five minutes and she’s already giving the sales clerk her size, favorite colors, astrological sign and gym membership number. I wonder if she’ll tell her about Mr. New Wave.

“Let’s get Physical!”

I separate from her, and start at the clearance rack, where I quickly see lots of potentially cool body-suits. I zero in on a long sleeved v-neck number, in black and white chevron stripes.  It’s marked down to 16.99, and since it’s my size I grab it. No snaps on the crotch, which means using the bathroom will be an event, but it’s better than the possibility of an ‘un-snap’ during the stretching segment of our group workout. I move on to the tights section, and choose some  black Danskin tights in “Tall’, and go to look at the leg-warmer selection. I find a great pair of black ones, infused with silver sparkly thread that look awesome. 

‘Oooh! Bonus!’

By this time, Darla is in the dressing room, babbling to the saleslady, who stands outside of the door holding a pile of clothes Darla wants to try on. You can only take five items in at a time, but five is nothing to Darla. I hear the words ‘Talking Heads’ and realize that she has in fact, brought up Mr. New Wave.

When she steps out I am ill prepared for what I see. She has on a purple unitard, with black zebra stripes. She’s added a pair of black high cut work-out briefs over the top of this get-up. She looks like Pat Benatar, only much bigger, with more make-up, and most importantly: not on stage!  I can’t let her get this outfit if I’m to show up in class with her. It’s just too much.

“What do ya think, Chooch?” she yells across the room.

“It’s….okay, I guess!” I say “But, y’know-It’s a work-out place, not a night club!”

I see a teenage girl out of the corner of my eye nudge her friend, and they both look over. Immediate whispering commences. But truthfully, a part of me admires Darla’s fashion bravery and unwavering confidence.

The ‘general gist’ 

Darla’s already sashaying in front of the full length mirror, and lovin’ what she sees.

“Candace? What do you think?” Darla asks. Candace? The saleslady scurries over from where she’s assisting a mother and her two elementary school aged daughters buy tutus. She squints her eyes, then lifts her cat glasses, staring steadily at Darla. Please, Candace, please-level with her. Forget the commission and be honest! After a long pause,  she says: “You look fabulous, dear! Let’s ring you up!” 

“…and I’ll sell her ALL the unitards I have in stock, if it comes down to it, Missy!”

We go to the register. My total is $18.00 and change. Darla’s is $64.00. She promises Candace that she’ll be back soon for that “pink one!” I make up my mind then and there not to tell Darla about my brother’s party, lest she wear the ‘tard to the party. This is so underhanded and mean-I secretly feel like the kind of villain who ties someone to the train tracks, but I’m exhausted already from our day at the jail, the Trumbull mall and now this. 


  1. Reblogged this on InspiredWeightloss!.


  2. Somewhere in this house there are leg warmers. Now, I must find them. I simply must.

    80s rule.


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