When I started shopping for my wedding dress - like, really shopping...in stores and everything! - I read that wedding dress sizes are very different from standard U.S. women's sizes. That is, compared to my 'regular' dress size, my 'bridal' dress size is an additional 2-3 sizes....UP.
Thus, before I went shopping, I did my best to mentally prepare myself for not fitting into the sample sizes. Even so, when I went and tried with vigor to make my body fit into dresses some many inches too small, it was hard not to let it psych me out. Well, to be completely honest, it helped when the attendants cooed over how I looked, even with rolls of fat pouring out the back.
Fortunately, bridal sample dresses are larger than 'fashion' sample sizes (usually 0 or 2), so some of the samples actually fit me. In fact, THE dress, when I tried it on, actually fit very well. (Maybe that's why I picked it!)
Still, the whole ordeal got me thinking about brides and the whole 'bridal fitness' thing. And about body image more generally. See, I have had the good fortune of growing up with a family who regularly told me that they believe I am beautiful. I furthered this good fortune by finding a man who not only loves me, but who tells me I am beautiful at all times of the day, even if I have last night's makeup all over my face and I'm wearing smelly pajamas (that's a pretty mental image, isn't it?).
Even so, that doesn't stop the feeling from snaking up; you know, that feeling that I get every so often, the one I try to push back down and rationalize away...the one that tells me that I'm fat and ugly. This is the message that I have learned after decades of exposure to the general media...the media that fails to make known - at least not to adolescents - that the women on billboards and the covers of magazines not only don't look like that every day, the photo itself is not an accurate representation of the woman in the photo (hence: Photoshopping!). Even as an adult, knowing about how these images are made, I still see the message that NO ONE - not even those held as standards of beauty- is beautiful enough.
I know that this is turning into a bit of a rant, but this issue cannot be separated from the dramas of getting married. Brides are urged to look their best in the dress; that is not something I disagree with. What frustrates me is the perpetuated idea that I, as I am today, am not good enough to marry unless I lose 15 pounds before the big day. I love who I am and I work pretty hard at loving how I look, including how I feel about my body.
Yes, I want to look my best on my wedding day and I do want to feel that I look beautiful in the photos, but I want the reason I that I look beautiful to be centered on how blissfully happy I am that day. I want to look MY best. And I don't want to feel like there is anyone who thinks that MY best isn't enough. I know that Chris won't think so. He always thinks I'm beautiful.