Photo credit: Keep It Captured Photography
Some women dream about their wedding dress since their childhood days of playing dress up, like it's the end all, be all of dresses. There are reality TV shows that literally center around the thing as if it's the key to Narnia, and it plays a huge part of a part of a multi-billion dollar industry. The dress and how it has to fit perfectly has been seared into women's brains since forever. I, my friends, was not one of those women, which made these feelings throw me for an even bigger loop.
Quick wedding gown history fact; we can thank Queen Victoria of Great Britain for starting this trend around 175 years ago when she married Prince Albert. The white wedding dress was said to signify "An emblem of the purity and innocence of girlhood, and the unsullied heart she now yields to the chosen one.”* So, there's that.
If you google "wedding dress," you're sure to find articles on "Get the Wedding Arms of Your Dreams" and hashtags that read #shreddingforthewedding. I've personally run Bridal Bootcamps for clients and their bridesmaids to get ready for the big day as well as attended wedding fairs as a vendor to meet as many brides as I can.
I've witnessed brides come to me in almost full panic attack, claiming they couldn't lift weights anymore because a seamstress told them it would make their body too bulky for their dress cut. I've seen women drop 20+ lbs in an unhealthy amount of time, just to be able to fit into the dress for a night and only to gain it all back almost immediately after.
Do not get me wrong, I truly believe and will honor that if you want to get "into the best shape of your life" for your wedding, you're 100% allowed to, but through actually playing the role of the bride and having the dress be one of my main companions (besides my fiance) on this journey, a few of my values and thoughts have totally been tested.
I think about my body and I begin to backtrack through the 30 years we've shared together. Fitting into my father's palm the first time he held me, skinning knees and having fat lips from a young beginning in sports, fighting through cancer together as a teenager, where my face became puffy from steroids and my hair fell from my head. Being the 'small and fast one with big legs' on my high school sports teams and realizing I would never have a thigh gap. Late night Dominoe-ing my way through the Freshman 15 and cardio queening my way out of it. Stepping into a squat rack for the first time in my young adulthood and remembering how fucking powerful it made my body feel, to now, sitting here as a 31 year old women trying to put into words the different insecurities a dress I'm meant to wear on one of the biggest days of my life made me feel.
Is it worth it, the stress and emotional self examination the dress has prompted in some womens' lives? In some cases, it's sparked positive lifestyle changes that quite possibly wouldn't have taken place without it, but other times it creates the opposite. An obsession, a compulsion to look a certain way, an infatuation with an appearance.
I want to call bullshit on all of that, on what "Saying 'yes' to the dress" has become, but more so, I want you to know that your feelings about your body are valid. Whoever you are, whatever body you dwell in, your feelings, your emotions, your views of your own body are all allowed, and sometimes you don't need a reason to feel them, you just do.
As each fitting took place and the big day became closer, I found myself becoming more and more forgiving to my body and back to my 'fuck a standard' ways, but that didn't stop me from looking at myself in the mirror every night and hoping that the dress would still be 'perfect' when I put it on that final time.
And even though I have always had a relatively healthy and loving relationship with my body, was I the one to blame for feeling this way, or was it just another thing I could blame on 'the standard?'