Not Just a Cliche: Bridesmaids Dress Shopping Is Actually The Worst

Why do they size those dresses so ... mean?

Nov 18, 2011 at 2:00pm | Leave a comment

Erin and I met in the eighth grade. She was sitting in Mr. Edmund's science class by the door. I was the new girl. For some reason, she didn't mind me talking to her. For some reason, fifteen years later, she still doesn't.

And while we haven't lived on the same coast in seven years, or the same state in 10, I still consider her one of my best, best, best forever friends. Which is why it's totally effing awesome that she's getting married in April and I'm a bridesmaid!

And just to show you why Erin is one of the illest ladies on the planet, Erin informed me of my selection as a bridesmaid by sending me a card of Bea Arthur as Dorothy from The Golden Girls stamped on the front with the words, "Thank you for being a friend." How bitchin' is that?

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Erin picked out her colors, a designer and a fabric, and told us to pick whatever dress we want. Easy, right? And she said she would pay for it! Then she sent us each a list of stores in our zip code that might carry the designs so we could try them on. I told you she was cool as hell.

I looked through her dress options online and I saw a few that looked cute. I tried to look for dresses with a lower waist because empire waists make me look pregnant. (Nearing 28 years of age and three years of marriage, I've got friends and family just waiting for me to decline a drink so they can gossip.)

After I weeded out all the empire waists, I started weeding out strapless. My arms are on the...doughy side and I prefer to emphasize something else. That left four dresses. I called around to the local stores, confirmed they had them and went on my merry way.

When I entered Wilshire Bridal I didn't know I was going to leave in 45 minutes on the verge of tears. How could I? But about 10 minutes in, somewhere between me asking, "Do you have this in a bigger size?" and the woman saying, "A six is the only sample size we carry," I knew it wasn't going to be pretty.

"Okay, but..." I said, "I physically can't FIT into this one."

The thin smug lady just shrugged at me like it wasn't her problem. Probably because it wasn't her problem. She fits into sample size dresses.

So I did what any COMPLETE IDIOT would do. I said, "Ah. Okay. I guess I'll just try to put this one on anyway." Why? Why did I do this? I guess my self-esteem wasn't low enough that day. I was lacking in things to self-shame about. Honestly, who knows.

The point is I ended up standing in the middle of a dressing room surrounded on all sides by overly -- honest mirrors and unkind lighting, half out of a dress that I couldn't zip up the back not just because I didn't have a handsome man to zip me, but because all the Big Macs and cupcakes I've eaten wouldn't fit in the damn thing.

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Now I know there are plenty of women out there who WOULD fit into a size six Alfred Sung D500. And I'm sure those women don't have it any easier in life than I do. Everyone has their Everest. I get it. But body image is one of my Everests and man-alive sometimes it's a hard hill to climb.

And why is it that when I'm already feeling fat, my brain also has to notice that I really didn't shave as well as I thought I did? And why is it that no matter where I am, I do not have body odor UNLESS I am in a dressing room? I swear it's like the minute I walk into a dressing room, I suddenly become the smelliest person in the world and it's all I can do NOT to try to outrun my own feet and armpits.

I pulled the dress off, put my clothes back on, and grabbed four more dresses that looked like they might be a better fit. One was even in a size 10, Hallelujah! But none of them looked even remotely flattering.

I had visions of standing up there in front of Erin's loved ones in these dresses and I was simply horrified. People would see me. They were going to LOOK AT ME while I was wearing one of these horrors. Dear God.

I imagined standing by the chocolate fountain at the reception: "Hey Taylor, that's a cool idea to wear the fanny pack inside your clothes!" "What? Wait. No, that's... (sigh) Thanks."

I looked at myself in the mirror. My hair looked greasy, my cellulite was everywhere, I could smell myself for miles and I finally realized that I was an idiot. No one cares what I look like. No one gives a crap if I'm the fattest girl at the party. If my dress makes me look like I'm wearing a petticoat and a bustle when in fact, it's just my ass, NO ONE CARES. Least of all Erin.

All anyone cares about is that Erin met Zach and they love each other and he treats her right and I'm so happy for them that sometimes it makes me cry a little. All anyone cares about is that it's the best day of their lives, that they are happy together and that that they love each other.

I tried on the last dress and decided it looked okay so I took down the style number and went home. Then I took my own measurements using a metal tape measure and emailed Erin my dimensions and the style I chose. And you know what? Even though I was tempted in the name of self-denial, I didn't even fudge the numbers.

I know we're all supposed to love our bodies and reject the messages that tell us to hate them, but I'm not there yet. I'm working on it. I'm working on loving my body. But until I do, I'm happy to announce that I am approaching "Fuck it" status. My belly isn't flat? Fuck it. My arms jiggle? Fuck it. Fuck it all.

I'm a 38 - 33 - 40 and anyone that doesn't like it can kiss my ass.