Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bridal Gowns, Weddings and Body Image Revisited

It’s a good thing that I had such a good long run this weekend, because there were definitely some big confidence hits as well. We've discussed body image and wedding gowns before. I guess this is the scary side...

Friday began at 3:30 am after a fairly sleepless night. Does anyone else get nervous and have trouble sleeping before travelling? I do. Especially before flying. I had no problem making my 6:00 am flight to Chicago, where I got whammied with an epic delay. Normally, I’m pretty good at rolling with the punches, but I had optimistically scheduled my bridal gown fitting for less than 2 hours after I was originally scheduled to land and then packed the rest of the day with back-to-back appointments for makeup and hair trials. I made it, but missed my opportunity to go home and pull myself together.

Before I continue, just let me say that what I described above is a horrible idea. One should never put that many aspects of their personal appearance up to scrutiny in one day, and certainly not right after a 3:30 am wakeup call and eight hours of airports and airplanes. It’s a miserable experience and no one should do it. Ever. I’m serious. Also, never fly through O’Hare if you can avoid it. The place is death to your schedule.
So I got off the plane and hopped in the car for 45 minutes with my Mom, who was chipper and brought food, which helped. We arrived about 30 minutes early for the fitting, and I promptly showed my lack of sleep by making back-to-back bad decisions
Oh, Oberon... Why did I let your crisp beckon derail me?
       1.       I stupidly suggested we wait next door at a restaurant and grab a beer
2.       When we returned and the bride ahead of me was running late, I agreed to have my fitting in the un-air-conditioned, stuffy back room with only one mirror.
What followed can only be described as emotionally overwrought and hellacious. I stood there dripping sweat becoming increasingly horrified at how hot, heavy, tight, too-short and overwhelmingly uncomfortable and unflattering the dress was and tried desperately to keep it together while my mom wept over how beautiful I looked and snapped photos with my phone’s camera.
I’m not exactly a boss at standing up for myself, and I completely let this experience get away from me. So please, learn from my mistakes. I went along with everything the seamstress told me, and allowed the major concerns I was having to either go unmentioned or be brushed aside by the seamstress and consultant (both of whom were really nice, just not picking up on my nearly un-detectable clues that I was not happy). I now have a great deal of respect for the ladies on Say Yes to the Dress who cry and stomp and holler in the fitting rooms of Kleinfeld’s until their dresses look exactly the way they want them. Watch them. Learn from them. You don’t have to be rude, but you do have to be pointed. This is your wedding dress. And Double E, meek and mild, has been crying herself to sleep for a week and banned bread and cheese in her home. Don’t do what I’m doing. Say something. Loudly. And if they tell you it can’t be let out in the hips, tell them to try harder, because you’re not going to make it to the alter without bourbon and pepper jack cheese. Those guys are practically your bridesmaids. Repeat after me: change your dress, not your body.
Photo: Kleinfeld's Website
Also, this lucky bitch doesn't look like she needs to change her dress OR her body. Oh media, why must you TAUNT me??
I’m sure you can now imagine the state I was in – exhausted, disappointed, filled with self-loathing that only the combination of sticky sweat and skin-tight chiffon can elicit – and there I was telling everyone how much I loved it and how happy I was and hopping in the car for my makeup appointment….
Here, zero makeup
Makeup is wonderful stuff. I don’t wear a lot of it normally, because I never really thought I needed to. I have never been self-conscious about my face. And yes, I know how lucky I am to feel that way.  However, the (again, VERY NICE, just kind of clueless) woman who did my makeup found more wrong with me in 10 minutes than I’ve been able to detect in my whole life. I told her very specifically that I don’t wear much makeup and just wanted to look “fresh” on my wedding day. I thought she would slap some blush and a pretty eye shadow on me and call it good. Oh, how wrong I was. 45 minutes later, I looked fantastic. However, I also had a list of the gazillion things that were “wrong” with my looks running through my head to join the cacophony of shame leftover from the dress fitting: “bushy eyebrows, no cheekbones, circles so dark they actually need two colors to be successfully hidden…” on and on the list went.
So here - "lots" of makeup (for me). See a difference from the pic above? I don't....
To my great credit, I kept it totally together until we were half way to the hairdresser’s house before I tested just how water-proof the mascara actually was. It’s safe to say that I’ll survive my wedding day without any mascara running, but I will need to blend in the tear-tracks through my blush.
The hair trial was definitely the least brutal of the appointments. My stylist has been doing my hair since I could walk and has created every gorgeous up-do I’ve ever worn for me. She is a genius, and a storyteller, and always makes you feel good. So I can state with 100% confidence that this is not her fault…. As we’re fiddling with a way to balance my hair and long face with my grandmother’s beautiful lace pillbox hat that I’ll be sporting for the wedding, she announces “girlfriend, we’re going to have to get you some more hair”. And she’s right. My hair is thin, and to pull of that hat, I’m going to need more of it. So she told me to buy a 10” ponytail and bring it in to add to my locks. It will look fantastic.
So now I am spending my lunch hour avoiding food, so that I can feel good in that stupid dress and searching for 10 inches of someone else’s hair with the dark circles under my eyes clearly exposed because I could not afford two colors of concealer on top of all the other corrective paint I had to buy. And I am the girl who went into this thing totally accepting that I would not look “the best I’ve ever looked” at my wedding, and that I just wanted to look and feel like myself while I said vows of forever to the Grige. That tight, heavy, beautiful dress, 10 pounds of makeup and someone else’s hair are making me feel more detached from the person I am when I’m running, or reading, or curled up in bed next to the Grige than I ever have before. I wish we had eloped. But maybe this is why we have weddings? To force me to confront expectations and figure out what makes me who I am and how to show it? Well, it’s hard, anyhow. Hopefully I’ll be able to answer that question better on August 11.

1 comment:

  1. oh no...was that the last fitting before the wedding? You can change your mind and go back if you've got another trip scheduled! I left the seamstress and my mom pick how the dress was bustled and I still think it looks dumb in the pictures.

    Re: make-up, where did you go? I went to MAC initially which was the WRONG choice and then went back to Bobbi Brown which was perfect. Their philosophy is less make-up is more and they stick to it. There's a Bobbi Brown counter at the Macy's on G street. Just sayin'