Because I am in my thirties and no longer exercise upwards of 3 hours a day, I rarely shop at Forever21. Occasionally, though, when I need a dress for a specific do, a little something I’ll probably never wear again, my sartorial sense deserts me, and I find myself drawn to the sounds of pop music and teenage girls fighting with their mothers.
Yesterday was one of those times. With the annual “Dress Like a Trollop” party* on the horizon, I grew anxious, knowing that nothing in my wardrobe of cashmere sweaters, jeans, scarves, and painted clogs would do. Thus I found myself prowling through horrifically merchandised racks of cheap fabric and gauche colors, looking for something a little hipper than a turtleneck sweater dress (the option awaiting me at home).
Surprisingly, I struck gold, in the form of a classy LBD. It was stuffed behind an array of artfully torn, cropped tees declaring “I Love Nerds,” and it was perfect. With cap sleeves, a nipped waist, and a tulip skirt, it was positively Hepburn-esque. The shocking thing was not its ideal silhouette, but its fabric—decent suiting material, and lined. I can’t find it on the Forever21 website, leading me to believe that it came from a far more sophisticated place (J. Crew, Nordstrom, the strip club around the corner) and was left on the rack mistakenly.
I tried it on gingerly, a bit afraid to look in the mirror because fluorescent lighting and junior sizing are nasty critics. But it fit beautifully. I was shocked. I glanced at the price tag ($27.90), and hurried to the cash register to make it officially mine.
On the way home, I congratulated myself on finding a party dress so efficiently (it was the first—and only—one I tried on). I was thrilled, too, that the dress was suitable for work on those rare days when I make an effort to look professional. (Long gone, those halcyon days of running at lunch and not bothering to change out of shorts and trainers for the afternoon.)
After greeting my dogs for the obligatory 10 minutes (cuddle, cuddle, cuddle, snuggle, snuggle, roll over, kick legs, bite the air, repeat), I pulled the dress out of the bag and hung it on a fancy padded hanger (probably worth more than the frock).
That’s when I saw them.
Small black letters on the bottom of the plastic yellow bag: “John 3:16.”
I picked up the bag, sure that I was missing something. This is a store for slappers-in-training. It is not an emporium closely associated with biblical ethics.
Despite the ubiquity of John 3:16 (think sign-holding fanatics at baseball games), I’m a heathen, so I had to Google it. God gave his son because he loved the world, and if you believe this, you’ll go to heaven. Something like that.
Sidenote: look how close heathen is to heaven!
Ok, whatever. But why is Forever21 telling me this? A trip to the store’s website revealed no overt mentions of religion, though the plus-sized line is called Faith21. Being something of a conspiracy theorist, I could probably come up with some subtle references if I cared enough to comb the site, but I don’t care that much.
I’m grateful that we live in a place where people are permitted to express their opinions and beliefs, sneakily or otherwise. It’s the connection, or lack of, that’s giving me pause. If Forever21 wants me to keep the bible in mind, why does it sell the trashiest clothing I’ve ever seen? I’m serious, my LBD aside, this is the go-to store for trampy little harlots in need of something sexy. It’s the perfect spot, actually, for ladies shopping for the annual, “Dress Like A Trollop” fete.
Oh dear. I hope no one else shows up in my dress….
*Not really, but it don’t most corporate holiday parties seem that way?