here comes the…

Your conventional bridesmaid dress wisdom is that they are
the fountain of fug, the pinnacle of putrescence, the place from where all evil springs and
pollutes the world. The bride, see, she is special and radiant on her special,
radiant day, and as a bridesmaid, it is your job to be the lumpy backdrop
against which she shines like a little sun, in love with the world. That is the
rumor, but I’ve never believed it. I’ve heard the stories, and I saw the Web site, but I
didn’t believe it. It seemed too cruel. And the world isn’t cruel–it can’t be!
Because it is filled with bunnies, and they are so nice.

Carrie, my brother’s lovely fiancĂ©e, loves bunnies. Well, I
assume she does, because she is a lovely girl with happiness in her heart, and
my brother seems to like her okay, so I am assuming she is, by default, a fan
of the bunnies and everything else that is good and perfect in the world like
chocolate and sick days and flowers. So
a bunny-loving gal like herself, she would fight against the tyranny of the
ugly bridesmaid dress, a good fight, a hard fight, a fight to win, and her
bridesmaids would not be as pretty as her, maybe, since she gets the superfance
dress and also the awesome veil thingie, but they would at least be as pretty
as God intended. Which for some of us would be really awesomely pretty. Yay,
genetics! Me, I would do okay. I had faith. 

Faith is a good thing to have in Carrie; while the
color she chose is yellow and I am not a girl who looks anything like the
living and mostly like the recently dead in yellow, at least we would be
wearing a lovely linen, with a brocade kimono sash in yellow with silver
threads and it was all going to be very charming and garden party. No butt
bows, or poofy sleeves, or shiny satin in improbable colors or unspeakable
malevolence that would swallow all our souls and give everyone something to
talk about at the pre-reception cocktail party. Instead, she picked the fabric
and we got to pick the style of dress and it would be made by a very nice woman
in Brooklyn who apparently owns her own sewing machine!
Or something. It was all going to work out so well, as these things do. Faith.

I chose a sleeveless A-line dress with a little V-neck,
because they told me an ankle-length parka just would not fly. Of course, I
cried a lot as one does, but the A-line thing seemed reasonable, with the butt
I’ve got, and while I would probably not be dying the dress to wear again and
again at every special occasion, I was pretty pleased with my choice. As
pleased as I could be, with a decision fraught with so much anxiety and
insecurity. This is the dress I’m going to be seeing my family in for the first
time since I’ve lost a 123 pounds, and people I grew up
with, and Carrie’s family, and the boy I had a big crush on in middle school.
This is the dress I was going to be standing up in during the ceremony, in
front of a hundred people, to ostensibly read an original piece of writing all
about the Beauty of Love, or something. This is a dress I was afraid of.

I forked over my million dollars to the lady and her sewing
machine, as a deposit. And woops! I
forgot to send my measurements for several million months in a row, sorry, and
then I finally did, and I sat back and waited for my dress to show up in the
mail. In the meantime, I lost
approximately three more pounds. I think maybe five, max.

Minor tweaking would be necessary, I knew. One of the less
psychological reasons I had put off having my measurements taken for so long
was because I didn’t want to have to spend all the money in the world to get
the dress taken in 15 sizes, because in between having the dress made and
being in it at the wedding, I would have lost enough inches to circle the
globe. I was all about being frugal and thrifty, and those are very good
qualities to have, when you don’t want to be thrown on the street, or into
debtor’s prison. Which, generally, I do
not.

I was already frazzled when the dress arrived, because of
mailing snafus. They make it in New York,
they ship it to me in San Francisco.
When’s it going to be here, I said? Oh, Thursday. For sure, they said. Thursday
passed. Wait, I said. It’s Friday. Where is it? Oops, they said. Several
tracking number adventures later (how do you mistake a nine for a seven?) I
find out that instead of mailing it to my work address, where packages tend to
arrive promptly and without fuss, they mailed it to my home. Except that someone had just dumped the dress
by the front door of my home and wandered away.

I put off my after-work plans and raced home, hoping it
would not have been absconded with. I ripped open the package that was
thankfully not there, because I was dying to see this dress and secretly, I
think, I thought I would look lovely. Despite the color I was unsure of and the
style and all the doubts I had, I was positive that I would slide the dress
over my head and look at myself in the mirror and see loveliness. I had no good
reason to believe this would be true, and yet.

As happens, over and over–and will it ever stop?–there are
the moments when you feel unstoppable and fit and fierce, and then there are
the moments when you pull a bridesmaid dress over your head and realize
something is wrong, and turn to the mirror, and realize you are the lumpiest
thing God has ever made, and there is no justice in the world, because you are
watching your brother get married in a potato sack. No tailoring in the world
can help, a dress can’t even be made especially for you, and it is your body
that is broken.

  10 comments for “here comes the…

  1. June 18, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    I love the fact that you were optimistic and had the faith in yourself to believe the dress would transform you – the fact that it didn’t (in your eyes) doesn’t detract from your hard work; physically and spritually.

    ALL bridesmaid’s dresses make us look lumpy.
    Nicely written post.

  2. gretchen
    June 18, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Oh please. This doesn’t mean that you’re broken or that there’s anything wrong with you. It just means that you’ve joined the tribe of lovely women who have sacrificed personal dignity to stand up in front of their closest friends looking like a bridesmaid. Go to the tailor, get it altered however you can to make it fit well, and join the countless women who look like grapes at their sister’s weddings, or have to dress like a Spanish flamenco dancer to meet their best friend’s expectations of her wedding theme, or end up looking like a bright yellow banana. It’s a badge of honor to love a person more than a dress. And have a great time at the wedding!

  3. spiderbite
    June 18, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    “ALL bridesmaid’s dresses make us look lumpy.”

    True, true, true. Also remember that just because someone took your measurements does not mean that (1) he or she has any particular skill, (2) he or she actually followed the measurements, or (3) the dress was designed to look good anywhere but in the catalog/as a 2-dimensional pattern. Sometimes, it really isn’t you. Sometimes, it really is the dress.

    I had a jacket custom made just for me. It turned out both too big and too small. I let it make me feel bad about myself (“I am like both of Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters rolled into one!”) for a nice long time. But, you know, screw that. There is a reason that haute couture requires several fittings — it takes a lot of tweaks to get things just right.

  4. June 18, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    I am starting to really believe there is no justice in the world.

    Thank you for the reassurances, you lovely people. Mostly, I was recording my very first impression at the time. There is a part two to this story! Stay tuned, etcetera.

  5. June 18, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    Okay, at 215 pounds, I had to stand up at MY little brother’s wedding to “the girl who likes sunshine and bunnies,” and even though she let us pick the dress and even though she wanted us to wear black, and even though I’d lost 30 lbs, it was still a somewhat horrifying experience, because her maid of honor (I am not making this up) is a size 0…

    SPANX, sister. Everybody is lumpy under their dresses. SPANX.

    They will save your life. I promise.

  6. June 18, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    I was going to suggest the Spanx. And also say that a dress made by someone who had not seen you in person was bound to not be Just Right. And also, linen is not the most forgiving of fabrics.

    And also, I have to go order a bridesmaid’s dress this month for a wedding in September and I have no idea what size I will be so I am STRESSING OUT.

  7. June 18, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Melinda–how long can you put it off? Put it off! Forget to order it! Wait, don’t be like me. Tailoring will be a little pricey, but do not stress!

    SPANX make me nervous. Will I not melt, in the mid-day sun? I will have to try them, and hope.

  8. June 18, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    Mid-day summer sun or no, SPANX are a must, my friend. Even the skinny girls wear them to smooth out the cellulite. I recall something about suffering to be beautiful that my grandmother used to say….
    Forking over serious cash for unflattering dresses is part of the bridesmaid deal. Consider it a well-earned badge.

  9. spacedcowgirl
    June 18, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    I find Spanx kind of hot and tight and uncomfortable, but I have a pair of Hanes brand “thigh slimmers” from Target that are along the same lines, and I love them. The material is satiny so the fabric of the dress slides over it easily, and they’re really comfortable.

  10. June 19, 2007 at 3:23 am

    Honestly, I think it’s the dress. Not you. How could it look right anyway, if it’s been sewed by someone who couldn’t take your measurements and make you try on the dress along the way? (Not saying the tailor wasn’t talented, but we all know that not one body is exactly similar to another, so it makes sense that if it’s bee fully sewed then sent to you without any ‘in-between’ dressing, the odds of it perfectly fitting were low. I know from experience. :))

    But regardless, I hope that this wedding will be fun, and that the dress won’t spoil it for you. It’s a once in a lifetime day where everybody’s supposed to cheer, after all.

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