I haven’t mentioned in a while that my sister is getting married in May. This is partially because I haven’t written in about forever, but also because while I’ve been at school, working on all my various projects and jumping through the last (most stressful) of my academic hoops, I’ve been largely removed from all the planning. This past weekend when I was home, however, I got a good healthy dose of wedding talk.
Most of it is stuff I really do want to hear about: plans for flowers, seat covers, etc. But occasionally, we get to something that puts me off the whole thing: dresses. I talked yesterday about how much I love dressing up. This is no different. I took joy in picking out my shoes. I’m excited for my sister’s wedding dress to come in so we can see her all dolled up. I actively participated in finding my mother’s Mother-of-the-Bride dress (and the most beautiful shoes ever). I love dressing up.
But the one thing I absolutely detest about dressing up is all the talk of thinness that’s associated with it. This weekend, my sister came to visit my parents house when I was around, and immediately the conversation turned to how good she looked (read: thin). My sister talked about how she had cut pop out of her diet for a good few days. She talked about how she’s on a diet, etc. My mother chimed in with how good that was. I scoffed, expressing the opinion I often express that they should both get dresses that fit them the way they are now.
This proceeded to a conversation about motivation. My mother said it was good that my sister had this motivation to lose weight. There’s no harm in having some motivation. She wants to look good. Therefore she should lose weight.
My problems with this statment are obvious. And I proceeded to say so.
“I think that’s all bull. Yes, it’s good to have motivation, but didn’t we once have a very productive conversation about changing the emphasis from looking good to becoming healthy?”
My mother ackonwledged this point, and the conversation continued. Honestly, this has been my biggest problem with the whole wedding: fighting against the perspective that being beautiful and looking perfect on your big day means being thin.
This whole experience and conversation coincided with my own struggle with dresses. When I arrived home late Friday night, there was a dress hanging in my room. A beautiful, patterned dress with red and pinks and black and white, creating a sort of abstract rose pattern. My mother had bought it for me after a discussion of how many formal outfits I was going to need for the upcoming spring in which I will graduate from college, attend a number of formal graduation events, and attend all the showers, rehearsal dinners, etc. for my sister’s wedding. I immediately tried it on, very excited because it looked very cute on the hanger.
It was pretty simple to see that it didn’t fit. It was slightly too small. Now, normally, this wouldn’t be a problem. I would put it down and say “too bad.” But I had absolutely fallen in love with the dress. And although it was too tight right under my bust, it fit everywhere else. I went to bed thinking, as was inevitable, “if only I lose a little bit of weight…I’ve been trying to start working out again anyway. I can get down to fit into that dress, right?”
I promised myself, though, that I would never do such a thing. But I just loved this dress so much, and the way it cinched under my bust made me look especially well proportioned (in the way that the media shows us whe should be). The dress, in the end, was more important to me–looking ‘thin’ was more important to me–than having a healthy attitude about my body.
In the end, we were able to find the dress in a size up (which fit much better). But in that moment of weakness, that moment of love of the dress, I wondered if that was how my mom and sister felt all the time. If that was the place they went to. And I wondered, then, if there were any way to really get them out of it.