Bridal Body Image Blues

I was planning to write a post on how I said YES to the dress this past Saturday, especially because the 26th of March was when Cecilio proposed to me. Instead, I came out empty-handed, but I'm happy that my mom bought herself a GORGEOUS mother-of-the-bride dress!

I went to Renfro's Bridal, a bridal boutique located in small-rustic-town Placerville, 45 minutes away from Sacramento. I was so excited because this boutique has almost all 4/5 star reviews on Yelp!, from former brides raving about the quality of dresses yet affordability (nothing under the store is over $1200), the service is amazing (they only take 1 bride per appointment, unlike the David's Bridal madness where the consultants manage multiple brides in a time slot). I mean, I went to David's Bridal and fell in love with a dress I have been salivating over online (and I got to try it on in January), but I booked Renfro's to see if they had a similar style and to see if there were other dresses to my liking.

I told the consultant what particular style I liked (I can't describe it here because Cecilio reads this) and she said that they just had a dress like that shipped yesterday, and she tried it on me but it was too tight. So, she pulled out other dresses for me. Anything I hated, I immediately said "no" before she even zipped it up, and I apologized, but she told me it was good I was telling her what I didn't like. There was a dress that I tried on and really liked, maybe even loved, and considered it to be a top contender. We will call it Dress #1. My mom loved it on me, which was a good sign. But I still tried on other dresses. I specifically stated how I did not want a strapless dress. But eventually, she put a strapless lace ballgown on me anyway, and it wouldn't zip up to my chest area because she said I had generous "girls" (and she meant that in an endearing way). When my mom saw it, she fell in love with it and wanted me to get it. Let's call this Dress #2, she loved it better than Dress #1. She told me to be open to more strapless dresses because they look beautiful on me, that I have nice shoulders and arms, and that they are a young and sexy look (my mom does not have an old fashioned/gaudy/conservative style for being 58 years old). She knew how self-conscious I was about my arms and upper body because of all of the prednisone weight gain, even though I have been working out and my arms have been toning up.

So I had her take a picture of Dress #1 and Dress #2. She sent it via group text to me and my sister, Trixie (my matron-of-honor who couldn't be there), and while Trixie loved Dress #1 on me, she thought that Dress #2 suited me way more. I liked Dress #2 a lot, despite it being strapless, but I didn't love it. And I was so disappointed with the photos because I thought Dress #1 looked great on me, but the pictures...were not so flattering.

I had the same issue with David's Bridal too when I went in January. I tried on my absolute dream dress, and at first, I felt "meh" about, but I tried it on once more before I left and loved it more and more, and overtime I kept looking at the pictures of myself in it on my phone and loved how it looked on me. I kept telling Cecilio "I know I'm going to Renfro's and those other boutiques...but I can't stop thinking about that [David's Bridal] dress". I tried 3 other dresses there, and I loved this mermaid-style dress that was ruched in the waist and made me look slim...and I almost considered it over DDBD (Dream David's Bridal Dress), but I saw the pictures and it made me look really boxy.

As I left the boutiques and kept staring at the photos of myself in dress, I was so disappointed and almost wanted to cry. Are my arms and waist bigger than I thought they were? I thought. My body confidence has been getting better, but it took this appointment to bring me down.

When one of my bridesmaids came over later, I showed her the dresses, she agreed that they were not all that great. But when I showed her DDBD, she said I looked short and deformed in it (she also was trying to show me other dresses from David's Bridal), and I REALLY wanted to cry because I loved it so much and what she said hurt! But I shouldn't expect less from her because she has always been so so critical of my taste, and she watches Say Yes to the Dress and Bridezilla more than I do! I kept telling myself, I don't care if you think I look bad, I felt beautiful in it and I love it.

I know the consultants and my mom were telling me how beautiful I was. And I know the guests will say I am beautiful on our wedding day. But the important thing is if I feel that I am beautiful. I have always struggled with this, especially with my body and taking prednisone. On my engagement party, I was having severe anxiety of having tons of pictures taken (also it didn't help that I was going through my last semester of college and my mom and Trixie planned it as soon as Cecilio and I got engaged), but I was on 10 mg of prednisone and I still felt like my face was kinda puffy. Trixie and my future mother-in-law LOVE taking as many pictures as possible, which exacerbates my anxiety about pictures.

I'm really trying to fight this. The WIC (wedding industrial complex) tells brides that they have to be as slim as possible on their special day. I have a theory that the WIC, along with society in general, are subconsciously telling women that no man could possibly love them unless they were model-slim.  Cecilio proposed to me last year when I was 10 pounds heavier. I'm not worried about guests judging me, but I want to feel good myself. My fear is that I will not be happy on the day because I have all this extra flab peeking through, and that my anxiety about pictures will show. Thank goodness we booked our professional photographer, I trust that she will make us look good. I am more worried about the phone pictures.

It's really comforting when Cecilio tells me no matter what, he will think I am beautiful because he is marrying me, and he will only focus on me despite being in front of all these other people. Our day will be beautiful and perfect because we will surround ourselves with people who love us as we confess our vows to love each other for life.

Despite what society tells you, average/larger-sized women can and do find love. Despite this debacle, I am going back to Renfro's on May 7 and they get new dresses weekly, so I may be able to try on new styles. I am staying optimistic saying, at least I have more time to work out and lose weight! Yes, I am no longer the svelte 120 pounds I used to be, and I would love to go back down there, but I will try my damn best to make sure I don't cry just because I'm not society's ideal beauty and just plain love myself purely.

Mirror selfie before trying on dresses. The good news is that my Lucky Brand Jeans, which are a US size 10 (UK 14) are getting baggy!

You are beautiful and created in God's image. That's what I want to tell you, and I hope I can convince that to myself.

Do you ever have body image issues or feel conscious about yourself? How have you overcome them, or what steps are you taking to make sure you can be more confident?

1 comment :

  1. I know I have always had issues with body image to look back and ask why was I so concerned or why didn't I just enjoy my youth then? Another reason why I struggle to post pictures of my full face or body. We live in a time people say mean things and it's there forever. I've seen it in so many YouTuber's comments sections. I think it's great that you have your mom and sister to be honest with you. It may hurt, but they know you best and my mom would say the same. From previous posts, I believe your mom has good advice and taste! Don't feel rushed to buy one right now until you've decided it's the most flattering. You may change your mind about what you're comfortable in after looking at the pictures and saying, "Yes, I look good in it!" That's what those camera's are there for! I wasn't big on strapless either but that's actually what I wore on my big day and maybe I wasn't a size 2 but I can look back and say I felt beautiful on that day. I wish I did share more because it could help seeing an average person that can say that. That was over a decade ago so times were much easier even then! You're helping another woman go through this as you document your own experience! I definitely say except the gift God gave you and turn to HIM in prayer, He will always give you peace!