Category Archives: Weight

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.

I Hate Shapewear

Spring is almost here, so Victoria’s Secret is pimping out its new bridal lingerie. I LOVE lingerie, so you’d think I’d use my wedding as an excuse to drop big bucks for something lacy and flimsy for sexytime.

But I don’t really have that impulse, maybe because I don’t usually need excuses to waste money on lingerie, so the itch is already scratched, so to speak.  Plus, the common anti-lingerie argument of “you have to interrupt things to put on a costume that you end up tearing off within five minutes” resonates when I think about my wedding night. I’ve said that I think we’ll be too tired after our wedding for sex, but if I’m being honest with you, I want “wedding night” sex so much I bet we’re going to TRY. But I also bet it is going to be terrible, terrible, LAZY sex. There is no way I’ll have the energy to put a costume change into the mix.

[I just realized that I can totally wear some lacy piece of “bridal” lingerie for the night BEFORE our wedding, which we are totally spending together, “tradition” be damned. Man, I’m so good at convincing myself to spend money.]

Anyway, which leads me to the original point of this post: “foundation garments.”

Victoria’s Secret’s “wedding day” collection is mostly lycra and boning and shaping/slimming/smoothing.  Just looking at this stuff makes me feel hot and bothered, and not in the good way.

I’ve worn shapewear before, because my gigantic dress collection involves some sheer or silky numbers that require it.  I think it is hot and uncomfortable. Wearing shapewear is probably the only thing I do in compliance with the beauty myth that I TRULY hate. Well that and plucking my eyebrows. So I only do it very rarely. And under protest.

Yes, I do have swamp ass.

The idea of spending a long, busy, day, with all that drinking and dancing and getting hitched and stuff squished into a spandex tube is really, really unappealing.

My preferred wedding-day lingerie is this:

And maybe those stick-on boob pads. MAYBE. (My dress already has those “bra cups” sewn in from when a model wore it at a bridal show.)

But some tiny part of me thinks “It’s my wedding day! Everyone will be staring at me! If my waist isn’t cinched and my butt isn’t boosted, they’ll JUDGE ME.” This is part is related to the part of me that worries over not fitting into my dress.  That part of me needs to be stopped.

Did you/are you wearing foundation garments under your wedding dress?  Do you want to preach it’s life-changing virtues to me? Or should I resist the siren song of shapewear, follow my instincts and go with lingerie minimalism on my wedding day?

[“Lingerie minimalism” just surged to the top of my search engine hits.]

Why Mod Cloth?

I’ve seen a lot of people on the Internet suggest Mod Cloth as a source for dresses for the bridal party.

Now, Mod Cloth seems like a cool company, and I don’t mean to bad mouth them at all.  I love Internet window shopping on that site.  And if I had more money coming in, you can bet your ass I’d also have more Mod Cloth dresses coming in.  And finally, Pittsburgh REPRESENT!

But I seriously don’t understand why people recommend Mod Cloth for bridal parties.

First of all, the sizing is banana tree.  Half the dresses appear to come in three different variations on “small.”  And I’m skeptical about the “runs true to size” claim that is bestowed upon almost every dress.  For example, the Raise the Roof dress comes in small, medium, and large.  The size chart allows for as much as four inches difference in bust and five inches different in hips between sizes.  But the length difference between a medium and a large is only .5 an inch.  Which, unless I’m misunderstanding dress physics, means that dress is going to be significantly shorter on anyone closer to the high end of size range.  When the dress is only 30 inches and change long (dresses on Mod Cloth are often very, very short), that can mean the difference between “cute dress!” and “remember that time Sherri flashed beaver at Pam’s wedding?”

Second, the styles seem to come and go very quickly, which is not necessarily a problem for “I need a dress for the office party” but in the case of “My friend tells me I need a dress for next July and it should reasonably coordinate with the dresses of five other people I may or may not know” might be trickier. Unless the day the bride tells her friend with the very nice shoulders, “I want you to be a bridesmaid; would you find a blue or green dress in a style that flatters you?” is the day this dress appears on ModCloth, and she finds it and buys it before it sells out.

Third, the categories you can filter the dresses by aren’t that relevant to the usual “uniting theme” people usually use with their bridal party’s attire.  There’s no options to sort by color or fabric, and even if you are using “tiered” as your unifying theme, that means a lot of different things.

So why all the love for Mod Cloth when it comes to dressing the bridal party? Am I just not getting it because I’m square? [I mean, I’m so square I still plan on putting my bridesmaids in matching dresses, and only doing the “different but coordinating dresses” thing for the extended Bridal Hootenanny.]  Do I need to be shorter or something so I can wear a dress that is 30.5 inches long?  [Possibly more short-waisted? I don’t know what short-waisted means.] Or are the cool kids’ bridesmaids wearing leggings now?  Is that really the world we want to live in?

 

 

 

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?

What Not to Tell Me About What to Wear

I am beyond tired with wedding literature that frames all discussion of dress styles in terms of “body flaws.”  I don’t want to hear about how to “correct” a pear-shaped body or about how diagonal lines keep the eye moving so people won’t focus on my “heavy spots.”

Seriously… why?  Like, for some lady products I get it, even if I find it objectionable.  If I am not properly terrified about the life-destroying effects of “fine lines” I will never spend $40 on a half-ounce of eye cream.1 But, I like my body, and I’m still going to spend a ridiculous amount of money on a wedding dress. I don’t think I would spend more on a wedding dress if I woke up tomorrow morning, took a look in the mirror, and finally recognize that my calves are disgustingly short, my shoulders are much too angular, and my neck is too cylindrical… or something.

In fact, I might be tempted to spend an even more ridiculous amount of money if someone was selling me a dress by marketing it as, “A dress that will put your hotness on display.” I don’t think I’m alone in that.

Memo to the folks writing all that rote “dress silhouette” copy: Want to write something new? Try these helpful phrases on for size. Instead of “bust minimizing,” let’s hear about “for ladies with a set of killer yabos.” I don’t even know what “short-waisted” means, but don’t tell me that mermaid dresses will “elongate,” tell me about how they’ll make a round booty go clap. And please don’t assume because I am tall and thin that I need to “create curves.”

And here are some words you should probably eliminate from your vocabulary: Camoflage. Forgiving. Hide. (Unless you want to write a sentence along the lines of “One downside to a full ballgown is that it will hide your getaway sticks.”) Consider: Highlight. Emphasize. Complement.

We’re not going to break off our engagement if we read some body-positivity. There is maybe one bride-to-be in the universe who is only engaged because she’s convinced her fiancé is the only person who will ever love her despite her short-waistedness. We’re still going to shovel our money into the machine. We’ll just be happier people when we do it.

1Which is a good excuse to link to my favorite Target Women: Skin Care Science.

It Begins: Dress Shopping

Yesterday marked the start of my wedding dress shopping, you know, sort of in the way Memorial Day marks the start of summer.  Like, technically summer doesn’t happen for almost another month, but nevertheless you’ve been acting like its summer since the first day the thermometer hit 80, BUT I DIGRESS.  I mean to say that I tried on white gowns, thinking about my wedding dress, but I was not REALLY wedding dress shopping.

Here is what I learned:

I am probably not going to be one of those awesome, breezy, no-nonsense, budget-savvy chicks who buys a white dress that isn’t marketed as a bridal gown.  At least I’m definitely not going to be buying a non-bridal wedding dress from BCBG/Maxazria, even though they have a wide selection of floor-length white dresses.

I tried on this dress first:

I am crazy for one-shoulder dresses right now.  But I realize it is a passing fad.  I don’t want to buy a dress for my wedding that will be an avocado fridge in a year.  Anyway, this dress was lovely, but about two inches too short.  Even when I took off the heels the salesperson provided, you could see my entire foot, not just a delicate hint of toe.  I’m not crazy tall (between 5’8″ and 5’9″, closer to one or the other depending on my posture), so I suspected it was an innate design flaw with that particular dress.  I was wrong.  I had the problem with each dress I tried in the store.

[Beyond the jump, more too-short dresses and a possibly-offensive RANT on body size and inept advertising]

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