Category Archives: Confession

What I Learned From Dress Fitting Stress

[This is a post that is going to talk about weight, specifically me worrying about my weight and body size even though I am a thin person. So you might not want to read this if you struggle with disordered eating or body image problems or even if weight talk just makes your eyes roll. But it does have a happy ending.]

I bought my wedding dress in August. It fit snugly when I bought it. I weighed myself and I took my measurements and I said, “Self, if you are bigger than this, your dress won’t fit.”

Doesn’t that sound like a recipe for neurotic disaster? It was, and I wish I’d never done it.

Do you want some overly detailed background on my body image? I hope so, because you’re getting it: I think I’m probably a couple standard deviations right of center when it comes to body satisfaction. A big part of that is because I am thin, so society isn’t constantly telling me that I’m lazy, unhealthy, or a bad person, even though I’m usually at least one of those things. In my adult life I’ve weighed thirty pounds more than this and ten pounds less than this and at all points I felt great about how my body looked. [Granted, thirty pounds more than this at best puts me into the “in-betweenie” category. This isn’t that remarkable a feat of personal body acceptance, but sometimes it seems like any woman who loves her body has a supernatural resistance to the kyriarchy].

Losing a lot of weight was weird for me, especially because I didn’t try to do it. I was simultaneously terrified that I was sick, delighted by all the positive attention weight loss brings, guilty because I didn’t “earn” that praise, excited by my new clothes, mournful for my lost DD boobs, fearful that the weight would come back and I wouldn’t love my old body anymore, and immensely irritated because, really, what is so praiseworthy about being thin that a possibly sick person deserves credit for shrinking? [See also]

I wasn’t sick, at least not physically (anxiety can make you lose weight because you burn more calories when you are panicking. That stress is so much more likely to kill you than fat is. Thin != healthy). My weight settled into a happy place where the Wii fit doesn’t make my avatar flop like a wet noodle and I get fewer “eat a sandwich” comments (Sidebar: don’t say shit like that! You don’t get to tell other people what they should eat or their body should look like).

But weddings make you do the wacky. The spectre of my snug sample wedding dress made me worry about my weight in a way that felt foreign and wrong. I went on a new antidepressant and almost immediately gained five pounds. Five pounds which no one but me and the waistband of my jeans noticed. This brought on a minor freak-out that involved a lot of internet research about how much seams can be let out and trying to convince myself I could always buy a new dress (those attempts at rationality always ended in tears). And then, and understand I feel like a traitor when I confess this: I tried to lose those five pounds. I upped my cardio [I already exercise almost every day because a) It tremendously relieves my depression b) I like being reasonably “fit” such that I can lift heavy things and run up flights of stairs without getting winded c) I am mostly unemployed and have a lot of time to kill] and tried drink more water, less beer, and to snack on fruits and veggies instead of cheese and crackers.

I avoided weighing myself to try to hold body hate at bay. But with two weeks to go before my dress fitting, I stepped on a scale: I had not lost one pound. And I cried. I’m ashamed of that, but it is true.

But I somehow snapped out of it. I wore a really tight dress on my birthday, one I’d previously intended to return for being too small, and I felt like a million bucks in it. Maybe I actually was a little slimmer even though my scale number stayed the same. Maybe not. Maybe I just let go and got to be the person I normally am, the person who loves her body, so I felt the dress looked sexy instead of too small, even though nothing had changed.

I realized how much I missed the feeling of loving my body and feeling sexy without subjecting myself to judgment and fear. So even though putting myself through more cardio and dipping carrot sticks instead of pretzels into my hummus might have, possibly, made my dress fit when it otherwise would not have, it doesn’t matter. The moral of this story is not “I worried about my weight so I exercised a lot and then my dress fit, hooray!” The moral of this story is after finding out my dress fit, I realized the stress and the bad feelings about whether or not the dress would fit were not worth it.

I’m writing this and sharing this (with trepidation, because the last thing I want is to perpetuate diet culture and body hatred) so that I remember that over these next two months. I want to look good on my wedding day, sure, but I want to love myself for the rest of my life. So I need to let myself love my body regardless of what clothes it fits into.

There Goes Tokyo!

The bloggy consensus is having your bridesmaids pick their own dresses is the right way to go.  It’s humble! It’s easier for everyone involved! It will make your bridesmaids feel the most comfortable and look the best! Uniformed bridesmaids are creepy anyway!

I was frankly astonished when one of today’s posts on A Practical Wedding acknowledged the “alternative” of bridesmaids in matching dresses, even though it was written about like it’s a shameful secret, and even though it was in a post sponsored by a bridesmaid dress company.

Matching bridesmaid dresses: the uncoolest.

And yet, I am putting my sister and sisters-in-law into matching dresses.  That I am picking out.  Because I am selfish, inconsiderate, and not even remotely hip.  I am a Bridezilla.

But I am also lazy!  So when faced with the prospect of dressing the women in the Bridal Hootenanny, who, unlike my sisters bio and in-law, are not all exactly the same size and shape, I decided to not bother trying to find a dress universally flattering to the whole gang.  I said, “you all find your own dresses!”

I said it with an air of self-satisfaction, because I could pretend what this is really about is that I’m not ENTIRELY old-fashioned/uncool/cruel.  I’m letting my friends pick their own dresses! I don’t like things completely matchy-matchy like those square brides stuck in the 1980s.  I am hip and considerate!  Well, uh, at least when friends are concerned.  (Sorry, family!)

But then… the time came to email the Bridal Hootenanny ladies.    Apparently, when saying, “go pick your own dress,” a Bridezilla needs to send out a 723-word email containing no less than 15 images.  And a corresponding Google document.   And while I was putting together that massive correspondence I may have also emailed my mother-in-law with a suggested dress for her. SOMEONE CALL GROOMOTHRA, I NEED TO BE STOPPED!

Or I could just chillax and own my choices.

The sisters will look good.  I’ll get the satisfaction of playing with them like Human Barbies.  They’ll get the simplicity of not having to choose.

My friends will look good.  They’ll get the fun of shopping for their own dresses.  They’ll enjoy that, whereas the sisters might not.  And this isn’t the first and it won’t be the last time my friends have coordinated outfits using a Google doc.

And for all we know, in five years, mis-matched dresses will be considered old-fashioned and lame, and the Knot will send out newsletters gushing over the  “Newest Wedding Trend: Matching Maids!”

I Warned You This Might Happen

Becca’s post today touched on schmoopiness, and as I commented there, Collin and I are no strangers to schmoop.  Collin, as you might have guessed if you’ve ever read one of his comments (or one of his mom’s), is an emotionally-open, outwardly-affectionate sort of character.

He says to me sometimes, “You make me make sounds.”  What he means is, he wants to show me affection, but he can’t find real words to do it, so he throws pleasing syllables together and addresses me with them.

Without further ado, here’s a partial list of the nicknames Collin has used for me, in rough chronological order:

  1. Sweet thing
  2. Cutie
  3. Cutie Patootie
  4. Patootie
  5. Patoot
  6. Patoon
  7. Panoot
  8. Noot
  9. Noon
  10. Noon-burg
  11. Quun [var: Cun, Cuyn]
  12. Noop
  13. Noople
  14. Papoople
  15. Papoop
  16. Noop Scoop
  17. Noof
  18. Foon
  19. Floon
  20. Fa-goon
  21. Floop
  22. Norf
  23. Norfle
  24. Plamp
  25. Clamp
  26. Clample
  27. Plaplimp
  28. Plaplample
  29. Plaplornsk
  30. Clink
  31. Cla-clink
  32. Claklorsle
  33. Flornsk
  34. Flinsk
  35. Plinsk
  36. Frump
  37. [Redacted]
  38. Dig
  39. Sink
  40. Simp
  41. Sint
  42. Quint

Try saying them out loud! It is fun.  So how about y’all? Ever use pet names? Stick to one or cycle through many?  Or do you all want to punch me and/or Collin in the eye socket for being so schmoopy?

Diet Creep

When I was at the Running of the Brides, I overheard something that made me want to cry. A bride-to-be was wearing a lovely dress that looked stunning in the front, but couldn’t zip up in the back. Instead of saying, “Aw, nertz” and moving on to another dress, she said, in a voice that sounded stretched over terror, “I have eight months. And this way, I’ll have to.”

She’ll have to lose weight, that is. It seemed pretty clear she wasn’t deciding to lose weight for a dress. She was deciding on a dress that would help motivate her to lose weight.

Because you can’t be a real bride unless you’re thinner than you were when you got engaged.

I hate that message. I hate our culture’s fear/hatred of fat and its mandate to be perpetually dissatisfied with our bodies to begin with. And body negativity is yet another thing I find generally objectionable that is magnified by a factor of UGH in the context of weddings.

And I hate that it is GETTING TO ME. Me! A believer in fat acceptance! And also (I’m not sure how much emphasis should be placed on this next item) a thin person!

I was at the grocery store yesterday, and I had a hankering for some mint chocolate chip ice cream. And I found myself grateful that I was at the godforsaken Squirrel Hill Giant Eagle, with its horrible labyrinthine layout, so I could easily resist buying ice cream. Because “I don’t need to indulge like that.” No, brain, no!

When I got home, I discovered the coat I was wearing had a torn seam. Did I think, “Well, that’s what I get for buying thirty-five dollar coats at Forever 21?” No! That would be rational! I thought, “Dear heavens! Have I gained so much weight that I am busting coats? How will I ever fit into my wedding dress?!?! Dios mio!”

This morning, I seriously had butterflies in my stomach when I stepped on the Wii Fit Balance Board, determining if weight gain was the cause of my broken coat. When the weight was around the same as it was last time I checked, I couldn’t just let it go.  I turned to a vinyl tape measure. And I felt sad when I saw one extra inch around my waist.

And that kind of thinking has got to stop. I can’t let my self-worth rest on how I look or how much I weigh. I shouldn’t hold myself to standards that I find abhorrent when applied to other women. It’s hypocritical, disingenuous, and lame.

And it’s a miserable way to live life, and I’m not looking for new ways to feel bad. I don’t want to think about fitting into a dress when I exercise; I want to think about being stronger and more flexible and not getting winded when I run to catch a bus. I don’t want to eat more veggies to save on calories; I want to eat more veggies to get more vitamins. Eff that, I want to eat more veggies because veggies are yummy. And then I want some ice cream. And beer. Possibly in the same mug.

And I don’t want to see women buying dresses that don’t fit in hopes of forcing weight loss. I don’t want there to be hours of cable television programming devoted to shaming women for having visible back fat when wearing a strapless gown. I don’t want people to refuse to let me take their photograph. I don’t want people to feel bad about themselves every time they step on a scale or try to buy new jeans or look in a mirror.  I don’t want people to tell me that I need to eat a sandwich, or that I need to drop my fucking sandwich, or that I need to do anything with sandwiches!

This war has to start at home.

So I’m going to sew my coat back together.  I’m going to read some of the Big Fat Deal archive. I’m going to keep clicking the little x next to the ads on Facebook that insist I can lose weight before my wedding day.  When Facebook asks why, I’ll click the button that says the ad is offensive.

What are your strategies for staying body positive, particularly in the midst of wedding culture?

Confession

I read celebrity gossip.  I think of it as a bad habit.  Like smoking, only less likely to kill me.  But still rude and unsavory and impossible to quit.

I even like reading about fake celebrities, your Kardashians and your Bachelorettes and what have you.  In fact, I think I like reading about those people more because they have purposefully offered themselves up for my knowledge of their personal business, unlike other celebrities who suffer these indignities as a side effect of our interest in their great talent and/or beauty.

So you can guess how much I love reading about celebrities weddings.1 I love it as much as I love Diet Coke.  And that is a whole lotta love.

But I feel terrible about it.  It’s hard enough to plan a wedding that will make you and your guests happy.  Imagine having to impress weekly publications of dubious journalistic integrity! Imagine having to impress the Today Show! (Actually, that’s not that hard to imagine, they love everything.)  But imagine having to impress Oh No They Didn’t!

It’s particularly bad when the person involved is not intentionally famous.  Like, there is a famous person getting married this weekend, you might have heard!  But this person is not a celebrity.  This person will never appear on a magazine cover letting me know how she lost ten pounds in ten days.  What’s actually happening is a consultant and an investment banker are getting married this weekend. And it is none of my business.

But dear lord, yes, I want to know everything.  I am sad that Vera apparently won out over Oscar.  I was surprised the Obamas were not invited!  I am in fact curious if the $250,000 flower budget figure that is being tossed around has any basis in reality.

Anyway, I’m sorry, non-celebrity, for invading your privacy.  I wish I weren’t part of the reason that you have to wear that silly hat.2 Have a nice wedding.

1Although relieved it meant the end of The Curse, I was very sad when InStyle Weddings folded, because I couldn’t bring myself to buy wedding magazines before I was engaged, even though OMG I wanted to read the features on B-list celebrities going dress shopping OMG! I was very happy the last issue was still on the shelves after I did get engaged, it was my first wedding-related purchase.
2Unless that is just your sense of style, or you are worried about protection from the sun’s damaging rays. In which case, good for you!