The snow is melting, the birds are chirping, and schlopping is coming to life. Schlopping is a word, a book, and way of thinking; it is an activity that we do with a loved one that enhances relationships, develops self-image, and creates memories.
Schlopping is about people; it is a new way of conceptualizing our time together while we shop, it is not about what we buy, or the money we spent, but about whom we do it with that affects us deeply.
Spring is the time of renewal that brings people outdoors and surrounds them with their environment and community. These expeditions often include schlopping, thus schlepping from place to place with a loved one while shopping. With spring come new beginnings, holidays, and coming to age ceremonies such as graduation, prom, Bar/Bat-Mitzvah, Quinceanera, Rumspringa, Sweet 16, and Khatam Al Koran. These memorable moments in a child’s life often include buying attire for the special occasion. The way they experience these events, with their guardians or friends may impact the rest of their lives.
It was this time in 2007 that we went schlopping for a dress for Passover and went into the dressing room and overheard the dressing room talk between a mother and a daughter while choosing a prom dress for the latter. The mom said, “Your thighs are too big and your shoulders are too wide for that dress.” We could only imagine how that daughter felt at that moment and how it affected her body image, and wondered whether she would obsess about her arms her whole life. The mother did not say it in a malicious tone and probably thought she was helping her daughter choose the best dress. However, hearing a stranger’s dressing room talk only reconfirmed the importance of not judging one’s body while looking in the mirror. It also reconfirmed the importance of writing our book Schlopping.
Excerpts from the chapter “Mirroring the dressing Room Talk”:
The dressing room is a place that can provoke many sensitivities. It often involves examining our reflection in the mirror. A combination of what we see and tell ourselves we see and what others tell us they see, especially when we were young, develops both our self-image and our self-mirror-monologue. “Self-mirror-monologue” is the way we talk to ourselves while we gaze in the mirror and see our own reflection. It is the presence of the mirror and the examination of ourselves in the dressing room that together wire our self-mirror-monologue.
If the dressing room talk we experience is mostly complimentary about the way we look, there is a higher chance that our self-image and our self-mirror-monologue will be positive. However, if the dressing room talk is mostly negative and criticizes our body shape, it can be detrimental to our self-image and self-mirror-monologue. The dressing room is usually not the place to discuss what is “appropriate” for our body shape and actuallyh can be very harmful; it wires our self-mirrormonologue to always look at “flaws.” The backlash, consisting of always trying to find the perfect fit, may be devastating in the long run.
Studies show that many women do not like their bodies and do not like looking at their naked bodies in a full-length mirror. The question is: Why? What have we done as a society to make almost everyone not like themselves? And how, as parents, do we keep passing female body shame on to the next generation?
We, mother and daughter, are completely opposite in our self-mirror-monologues; one avoids looking at herself naked in the mirror while the other loves and thrives on it. We each experienced different dressing room talk with our mothers and received opposing messages about the validity of feeling beautiful.
We wish you a happy and lively spring, filled with special and mundane moments. If you happen to go schlopping, cherish your time together.
All the Best,
Sheryl & Yael
Co-Authors Schlopping: Developing Relationships, Self-Image and Memories (noun, schlep+love+shopping)