Lululemon is not a commercial

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PHOTO: Emma Simpson, Unsplash

“Sometimes, I go into a Lululemon store just to feel better about myself. I get to browse, take mental notes for future purchases, and pick up on ideas that improve my personal goals of becoming more fit and living longer.”

A few months after our family was hit with cancer (my husband), I wandered into the new Lululemon store at a nearby mall on a random December. I’d needed new running clothes to shore me up for the cold winter. I hadn’t planned on buying my running clothes at this fancy designer place I (thought I) knew more for its yoga pants than anything practical. For that, I intended on making do at Walmart.

I never did make it to Walmart.

I expected the usual dismissive runaround I always got at every department store I ever walked into. You see, people don’t pay much attention to someone like me. They are super-friendly to the customers in front of or behind me at the registers, they bypass me to serve the white, middle-class soccer mom types… Annoying baffling bullshit I’ve had to put up with all of my life.

Imagine my surprise when the staff at Lululemon treated me like every other woman who walked through those doors, with courtesy, respect, and unbelievable consideration.

It didn’t matter that I carried a few extra pounds, lacked those coveted, curvaceous Venus de Milo hips, or looked like hell in old sweat pants and beat-up borrowed Nikes, no make-up, my greasy, gray hair in a disarray.

Overwhelmed by the selection, I was about to leave when — on a whim — I drummed up the courage to ask for help. A young pixie-ish lady hovering around the dressing rooms immediately dropped what she was doing, led me over to the winter running pants and tops, and helped me find my size, explained the compression feature (wow, these are tight!), and even picked out a color (bright purple) that matched my skin tone. All without my asking.

She walked me through the scary process of trying on clothes, and never left me until I was satisfied with the first pair of pants and top she picked out in a size 10 (I haven’t worn that size since the ’90s).

She made me feel normal, valued and a welcome addition to Lululemon, another satisfied convert. She had no idea the hell I’d been through, and how much her authentic kindness lifted my spirits during the busiest time of the season.

When I visited family in Hawaii a few months later, I tried out another Lululemon store in Waikiki, assuming my first time was a fluke.

It was not. I received the same tender, loving care from those ladies.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting Portland, tagging along on my husband’s gig. While he set up the sound for a Rotary Club Conference at the downtown Hilton, I went out exploring with a friend. We checked out the Lululemon store there, my friend for the first time.

I happened to be wearing the same outfit I first bought back in Dec. of last year. It also happened to be the first time I walked for exercise since blowing my knee five weeks prior.

I helped my friend decide on her walking outfits, as she teetered on bailing. She, too, worried about the tight pants until I explained about the compression factor and how they would adapt quickly to her body and wouldn’t feel uncomfortably tight but like second skin.

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I got mine in black. Buh-bye, Coach!

I also scored a fast track bag, which I carry with me everywhere now instead of that expensive, bulky Coach bag my mom bought me when times were better. My friend grabbed one for herself too.

The ladies at the Portland Lululemon were as wonderful as my first time. When I tweeted about my experience, the Lululemon people on Twitter immediately responded, later on with a photo of a soft-as-butter pair of Align Pant II I plan on picking up for the spring/summer.

That’s the key about this place. Everyone there responds, personalizing their interactions and taking good care of you, as if you were a new friend or literally a part of their family.

I never felt embarrassed, left out, or awkward around any of the Lululemon staff. They know their stuff. They wear Lululemon, they live its natural message of empowerment for all women, not just a chosen few who stand out.

Lululemon’s gear is also tremendously practical. Every feature is so well-thought out, from the thumb holes, weather-resistant material, and hidden zippers, to the placement of pockets and the design of the crotch (to avoid camel toe). The products are expensive, but made to last.

Sometimes, I go into a Lululemon store just to feel better about myself. I get to browse, take mental notes for future purchases, and pick up on ideas that improve my personal goals of becoming more fit and living longer.

Every now and then, I even feel… beautiful, because of these beautiful women at Lululemon.

They’re definitely more than yoga pants. They represent the kind of world I wish we could all live in.

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