Hi. I'm Kristin. Like many of you, I've noticed that some dressing rooms feel like little coffins in which one goes to bury their self-esteem.
Here I am, trying on some shadows. I think they fit!
But other dressing rooms can feel like magic photoshop boxes where the rules of physics and beauty do not apply.
Which is nice and all, but how are you supposed to know whether or not you actually look good in real life?
So, I decided to take a picture of myself wearing the same outfit in 20 different dressing rooms, and compared the photos to how both my face and body look standing in my natural habitat: in front of my desk.
Yes, I turned off my computer monitors.
For ease of understanding, I have helpfully divided the 20 dressing rooms into several categories.
This one was probably the worst. I call this dressing room "the concern troll" because it goes out of its way to point out your physical flaws under the guise of being helpful. Instead, it mostly just looks like I'm being interrogated for the crime of trying on shirts.
Same overhead lighting, but now with outdoorsy wood paneling. It's very: "Hello, everything about your body and face is terrible! Please buy some cozy sweaters!"
We get it, Madewell: You found my boobs.
Not to brag, but my belly looks like a monster trying to emerge from a bowl of milk.
The least offensive of the shadow monster dressing rooms, but still going out of its way to let me know that it could make me look pregnant if it wanted to.
If the Old Navy dressing rooms were an Instagram filer, it would be called "boyfriend left you for your sister." My body looks about the same, but my hair and skin look like I'm a character in one of those sad black-and-white cartoons where the characters have yet to discover the joys of color.
This just made me feel like the Nordstrom Rack version of myself.
All discussions of the blahness aside, I love that the Gap's dressing room renders basically the same result as Old Navy's dressing room, except the light is yellow.
This dressing room featured overhead lighting, and also a large, round, soft light over the mirror. The round light did absolutely nothing for the lighting scheme, and so it just sort of hung there, unnecessary and pointless, like a man's nipple.
Zara had vertical lights running down the mirrors AND harsh overhead lighting, which ended up just making me look like the star of a very off-Broadway play titled Why Am I Trying On Overalls, I Really Should Know Better.
This was the only dressing room that had no lights directly shining into it — all the light you see comes from just outside the room. But to be fair to Urban Outfitters, this is probably what I would look like if I went to see a band play a show inside an abandoned Pizza Hut, which is probably what they are going for.
This dressing room had overhead lighting, but was also the only one to have lighting coming from behind the mirror. Anyway, the overall effect ended up being "banana," so this is more or less on brand.
MY GOD, I'M SO BEAUTIFUL AND ORANGE, I'LL TAKE SIX BRAS PLEASE.
Surprisingly flattering, for a space that looks like a closet inside a human-size dollhouse. The main focus is boobs and then it just sort of yada-yadas my other body flaws, but the general impression was OK.
I think this one was probably the closest (I think) of all the dressing rooms to being an accurate representation of what I actually look like. This was a shocker, because this dressing room is basically just a cardboard box with a couple of flashlights dangling over it.
My face looks great. So great, in fact, that until I looked at the photos later, I didn't even realize that my body looks about the same — that's how much it impacted my perception of myself. But seriously, this room was Disney Princess AF; it even came with a short wooden stool in case I needed to sit down and contemplate my imminent marriage to an old German royal.
By this point in the dressing room tour, I'm realizing that the vertical lights have a very specific goal: to make me look as much like mannequin as possible. But I'm not a mannequin, I'm a Kristin, and while I enjoy the flattering lights, there's something strange about my appearance.
Where do my boobs even start and stop here? How am I supposed to objectify myself if I don't know where to ogle? Also, this was literally the hottest box I have ever stepped into. I am smiling but I am also praying that I get this picture right because if I don't GTFO soon I'm going to fill this entire store with sweat and I'm not sure if all the employees can swim.
Seriously, LOOK AT MY FACE. YOU COULD BUILD AN ANIMATED FRANCHISE AROUND IT. I love you, Nordstrom, but you're full of crap.
This was slightly different than the others because the two vertical lights that ran alongside the mirror were like little side flaps and were angled at you, which could then directly bathe you in beautiful, dishonest angel light.
It's very nice...but it isn't me. In the real world, I am like a life-size American Girl doll who has been dropped in some Silly-Putty, and I want to dress for that person, you know?