Hauling to the Chapel: Hips Don’t Lie
Last Saturday, I was all jazzed about going to try on my wedding gown for the first time since I picked it out this summer. I had fallen in love with the thing, despite the fact that I wasn’t exactly the sample size and had to guess at what my finished dress would look like. But the saleswoman assured me that they could make a muslin, or trial version, of the dress based on my measurements, then fit that precisely to me, and make the actual dress from my actual proportions.
To a girl who spent much of her overweight youth and teen years sucking in her gut in dressing rooms when things just… didn’t… fit, it seemed like the best idea ever. I wouldn’t be trying to squeeze myself into some designer’s version of what I should look like. In fact, I’d be my very own fit model. I barely paid attention as the saleswoman strung her tape measure around my bust, waist, and hips. As my mom, sister, and future mother-in-law passed around tissues and started talking bridesmaids dresses, I reveled in the fact that the biggest fashion moment of my life was going so swimmingly.
I expected a similar high when I stepped into the dress last weekend. This time I was alone. I put on my satin heels, adjusted my strapless bra, and waited for the seamstress to zip me up. I couldn’t wait to see a complete, if unadorned, version of the dress I’d wear on my big day.
She pulled the zipper up to my tailbone and stopped. Asked me to put my hands on my hips. Pulled a little more. Stopped.
I was a fat girl for many years. I know that stop. “It doesn’t fit, does it?” I asked, trying to keep my voice light.
She tried a few more seamstress tricks. Asked me to shimmy a little. Grabbed the edges of the unzipped bodice with strong hands and valiantly willed them to meet. Wasn’t happening. She assured me that it wasn’t a big deal, that situations like these were the reason they encouraged brides to have the trial dress made. I only half heard her. The voice grabbing more of my attention came from inside me. Am I really that much bigger than I was just a few months ago? How is it possible that I don’t fit into the dress that was MADE FOR ME?
She re-measured. An inch difference. She said it could’ve been anything: an error in the original measurement, water retention, a big meal the night before. She was very kind. We made an appointment for me to return in two weeks and try on the muslin one more time before it would be sent out and used to create my gown. She left so I could change.
I spent a moment looking at myself in the mirror. I didn’t see my arms, which are so much stronger than they were a year ago thanks to some hard work in the gym. I didn’t see my legs, which have carried me swiftly for hour after hour in endurance events. I didn’t see my face, which breaks so easily into a smile whenever I think about all of the good stuff in my ridiculously blessed life.
All I saw were my hips, the plain, white fabric stretched over them pulling at the seams. No longer was I 32 and confident. I was 17, and nobody wanted to ask me to prom.
Angry crying in the car was followed by kind of pathetic crying at The Fiance’s house, where I sheepishly admitted that it was silly to be so upset over something so stupid. He said all the right things—he ALWAYS says all the right things—and I’m in a better place about the whole experience now. After all, if the worst thing in your life is that the first attempt at your gorgeous gown doesn’t quite fit, you’ve got it pretty damn good.
Whenever women in my classes complain about being unhappy with their bodies, I try to tease them out of it. I do think that when you dwell on something so much, it becomes all you see. But please don’t think for a minute that I can’t or don’t empathize, or that I’m past all of that.
It’s just now, even if there are moments of dressing-room panic, I try to let them pass. It may take days. I’m definitely not past the incident, and it was nearly a week ago.
But I refuse to let that kind of thinking take me down.