Leaving the Suckfest of Not Dressing for the Body You’ve Got

This past Saturday, I ordered my wedding dress.  It’s gorgeous!  I wish I was wearing it right now!

(Sidenote:  The bridal world is bananas.  Everything happens ten months ahead of schedule, whatever girl who helps you in and out of the dresses totally sees your nipples and you’re just supposed to act all casual about it, and with every decision you have to tease out what you actually want from the ‘shoulds’ of the world.  Bananas!)

When I left a a deposit for the dress, I had to sign a piece of paper that said there would be a hefty charge if they had to make major changes to the dress beyond standard alternations.  I inquired further because who even knows what you’re signing in this nipple-flashing, ahead-of-scheduling land?

Apparently when a bride loses significant amounts of weight (say, over 30 pounds) after her dress has already been ordered, it needs to be restructured, which costs money.

Wedding day weight loss is such a THING. You wouldn’t think that the hugeness of one’s thighs would be treated as a bigger deal than the hugeness of a lifelong commitment, but at first glance, it kinda is.  There are bridal boot camps, and psychic Facebook started offering me diets in the sidebar from the moment we got engaged.  At every bridal salon I’ve gone to, I see women (who are beautiful, by the way) gazing at their reflections in dresses and saying things like, “Well, this will be gone by the wedding” as they grab parts of their arms and bellies.

I get it, of course.  Though I’m not trying to lose any weight for my wedding (more on that in a sec), I just spent $100 on a frigging makeup trial last night so I certainly can’t be all holier-than-thou about who values what.  I want to look the best I’ve ever looked on my wedding day, too. We live in a society where many people believe that thinness equals beauty, so it makes sense that for so many of us our wedding day fantasies involve toned arms and a totally flat stomach or whatever.

This got me thinking about the terribly toxic thing we women do when we hang our hopes and dreams on a piece of clothing and think things like  “I’ll finally be happy when I can fit into this”! (I’ve noticed thoughts like this often come with a time limit, too, either a wedding or a reunion or something – talk about pressure!)  As if driving ourselves nuts enough with these loaded thoughts wasn’t enough, we give ourselves a physical representation of our feelings of inadequacy and hold the things we love away from ourselves in some kind of weirdo reinforcement exercise.

I’ve learned how badly this sucks the hard way.  I did that mean-to-myself behavior of buying or holding on to clothes that don’t fit in preparation for the new skinny body that was coming someday for YEARS.  Since my weight loss history included a big fat yo yo where I gained back all the weight I’d lost plus, at one point I had an entire wardrobe full of ‘skinny’ clothes that no longer fit. I held on to those babies for a long long time, telling myself they’d motivate me somehow.  In particular, I had this one pair of Mavi size 29 jeans that I LOVED that had fit me for all of six months.  I imagined that when I could zip them up again, it would be a total happily-ever-after for me, like the end of a romantic comedy when the couple finally gets together and the credits roll as and you just KNOW that they will be immune to life’s challenges from then on.

Planning for the future, visualizing it and fantasizing about it, and believing in its inevitability, is lovely.  I would never want to take that away from you, or from myself.  We just need to remember to plant those seeds in the healthy soil of accepting and loving where we already are.

When it comes to weight, that is particularly hard to do.  I know it was for me.  How was I supposed to love where I was when the only thing that fit me were yoga pants?  Where could I find any confidence in that?

Trust me, no matter what, there IS something great about where you are. I’ve already talked about the click that occurred for me when I realized that I was DONE with being mean to my body.  Another big click for me was seeing the meaning in my weight gain.

When I’d lost weight the first time, I lived in endless fear of gaining it back.  With every pound lost, everyone encouraged me and told me how good I looked; so as each pound crept back on I felt they must be thinking the exact opposite.

Gaining it all back plus, while I couldn’t see it at the time, was one of the best things that ever happened to me.  I saw that there was nothing terribly tragic waiting for me with weight gain.  The point I was able to detach my brain from all the significance I’d attributed to thinness (that it represented beauty, self control, sexiness) and realize that my stress at my heavy weight had very little to do with my day to day experience of being a heavier person (which was not so bad, truthfully!  I still laughed, I was still beautiful, I was still me).  The stress mostly came from the way I was thinking about my extra weight (FAILURE FAILURE FAILURE NOT FIT TO BE SEEN OR LOVED BY ANY OTHER HUMAN! FAILUUUUUUUUUUUURE).

I also saw the opportunity to create a healthy life in my own, Marla way.  In the past, I’d counted calories like a crazed mathematician to lose weight; which I never really liked and turned out to be ineffective for me anyway.  Because I really didn’t know whether I’d lose weight or not (again, I’d decided that if that wasn’t what my body wanted that I’d still be nice to it), the noise in my head quieted down enough that I could actually figure out the food and activity level that worked for me.

As these truths dawned on me, it became clear that my body deserved to wear beautiful, flattering clothing right away; not the crappy ‘interim’ clothing I’d been wearing wishing it was an Invisibility Cloak. I donated everything that didn’t fit me, even those god-forsaken Mavi jeans.  Of course, the weight came right off then.  The moral of this story is not that my metabolism had an arrangement with Visa, but that once I let go of my demands for how my body needed to look in order for me to love it, it responded beautifully.

Last week I heard Michael Neill talking on the radio about how, when he was poor, he used to think that once he hit a certain amount of money in the bank, THEN the money worries would stop.  As he earned more and more, he saw that money worry ceiling go up and up.

Weight works in exactly the same way.  Size 6 will be filled with exactly the same amount of self love as size 16, I guarantee it.  Think about it – does it really make sense to think that you’ll one day be flooded with confidence at a certain size, when all you’ve been practicing is disdain and shame?  If you think that feeling good is waiting for you somewhere over there, then over there is just going to keep on moving as you approach it.

I’ve seen this play out in every single area of my life in which I’ve struggled.  My love life, my weight, my finances, my career.  I beat myself over the head, I get upset, I find where I am completely unacceptable.  The whole ‘what you resist, persists’ thing proves itself as things get worse and worse and worse.  After fighting it like a madwoman in every single way I know how (often for many years), I finally surrender to my current situation.  I realize that I can live with this unacceptable thing, because I’m still ME and the present moment still holds plenty of joy and fun… I’m just so stressed out because of the way I’ve been thinking and talking to myself about it.

Then, when I’m not looking because I’ve accepted it anyway, a shift happens.  Then I laugh at myself, because I realize it was never really about the money/man/dress anyway.

That’s why I’m buying the wedding dress that looks good on the body I’ve got, and why I hope you do too.  The dress is just decoration, the real beauty is you just as you are.

Just remember that nipple thing.

34 Responses to Leaving the Suckfest of Not Dressing for the Body You’ve Got
  1. celine boogie bag red
    July 2, 2013 | 3:08 am

    Well I truly enjoyed reading it. This article procured by you is very practical for good planning.

  2. Yuliya
    February 27, 2013 | 11:37 am

    So beautifully writte, and SO TRUE!!! I too have thos jeans that I spent a fortune on, in hopes that I will fit in them. While the body I have now is not gross according to all people I know, it is to me. I also participate in that negative self talk, and have no clue on how to silence that voice in my head (no, I am not crazy, I do not have conversations with that voice – just listen). Marla, thank you! I wish I could be what you are today – self loving and self respecting person. And you are right, it is never about the clothes. I used to be size 12, and then I was size 00 (I know right, there is a size for anorexics too), and I still thought I could stand losing that celulite, that little jiggle of whatever fat was left in my body. I envy you with all my heart – I want to be in that happy and self-loving place! I do!

    Thank you very much!

    • Marla
      March 4, 2013 | 9:22 pm

      Yuliya YOU WILL GET THERE! I promise! I am so familiar with that voice in your head. Keep searching for answers and keep trying and I promise she will be saying loving things to you very soon! I am sending you so much strength and love for the journey.

      • Yuliya
        March 5, 2013 | 10:52 am

        You are awesome! thank you, and please keep writing!

  3. Oven Fried Green Beans | Your Full Plate
    September 26, 2012 | 4:49 am

    [...] Since I’ve already told you that trying on bridal gowns involved heavy-duty nipple-flashing, I also feel comfortable telling you that in the name of bridal beauty I am currently sporting [...]

  4. [...] down the slippery slope from slothfulness into eating crap foods and hey… might as well go buy some size 2 pants to hate myself over, while I’m at [...]

  5. Janine @ Alternative Housewife
    April 14, 2012 | 3:03 am

    TRUE that. I lived in yoga pants for almost a year after my son was born, telling myself that buying new clothes was a waste of money and would kill my motivation to lose the baby weight. Eventually I caved, even finding deals on designer jeans in my new size. And it makes me more confident, and it makes me want to eat less/better and work out more!

    I know that my confidence won’t magically skyrocket if/when I hit my goal weight, but hopefully I’ll appreciate it a hell of a lot more than in my pre-baby days when my dress size was half of what it is now and I was still CON-vinced that I was fat fat fat.

    Someone tweeted your BlogHer post and just wanted to let you know I’m now a follower of Your Full Plate! One of the best blogs I’ve read in awhile! Definitely subscribing.

    • Marla
      April 16, 2012 | 9:34 am

      Hey Janine! Welcome, thank you so much for reading and commenting and for your kindness! I can only being to imagine how much baby weight contains its own totally different set of challenges but I do believe that in every single area, making the best of it and enjoying where we are is always helpful. =) I LOVE that you bought yourself some awesome jeans that look great on you just as you are right now, YAY! I didn’t forget about your tweet about the RSS feed… I was away all weekend but I’m going to look into it right now. Thanks again and please do keep in touch! xoxo

  6. Brittany (Eating Bird Food)
    March 24, 2012 | 9:30 am

    I went wedding dress shopping for the first time last weekend and I’m really glad I read online what to wear beforehand because I knew to wear full coverage underwear and a strapless bra (no nipple exposure for me)! :)

    I agree to buy a dress that fits the body you have not the body you want – that’s exactly what I’m doing as well.

    • Marla
      March 24, 2012 | 10:37 am

      Hi Brittany! Good for you, on dressing for your body just as it is and also for keeping those nips modestly hidden away. :) Congratulations on your wedding and I hope you find a dress that you fall totally in love with.

  7. samantha jenkins
    March 6, 2012 | 4:52 pm

    Good for you and I bet you look am.az.ing!

    • Marla
      March 6, 2012 | 9:20 pm

      you’re a sweetie. thank you!

  8. Petrea
    March 5, 2012 | 9:26 pm

    Beautifully written Marla! It’s amazing the lies we buy into that become our “truth”. I’m always thinking that I’ll be happier if only my stomach were flatter and defined. Then I laugh at myself and remember that as thin as I have always been I have always had a roundish belly, and now 2 children later it is what it is.
    Thanks for the inspiration Marla – you rock!

    • Marla
      March 6, 2012 | 12:41 pm

      Hi Petrea – thank you so much!!! It is SO TRUE. We can convince ourselves of so many things and swear that they are the absolute truth. I’d bet anything that your belly is gorgeous!!! xoxo

  9. Anne
    March 3, 2012 | 10:11 pm

    You are awesome….:)

    • Marla
      March 4, 2012 | 9:16 pm

      YOU ARE!

  10. Gina
    March 2, 2012 | 9:14 pm

    you go Marla……another marla-vous post!

    • Marla
      March 4, 2012 | 9:16 pm

      Thank you Gina!! You always make me smile. :)

  11. Melissa
    March 2, 2012 | 12:37 pm

    Such a great post Marla! I can’t wait to see you in your dress. You are going to be the most beautiful bride (inside and out)!!

    XO
    M

    • Marla
      March 2, 2012 | 2:21 pm

      Well thank you sweetheart! Can’t wait to see you soon. xoxo

  12. Gin
    March 2, 2012 | 12:09 pm

    Wonderful, fabulous post – I loved reading this SO much!

    • Marla
      March 2, 2012 | 12:37 pm

      Thanks so much Gin, I’m really glad you liked it!!!

  13. Sarah
    March 2, 2012 | 10:47 am

    Marla, this has been the best thing I have read all morning. You moxie lady. You…you beautiful thing. You have made my Friday. Thank you. So sharing this.

    • Marla
      March 2, 2012 | 11:19 am

      SARAH you have just made my Friday too! Thank you for those very sweet words and for sharing this.

  14. tokyotutti
    March 2, 2012 | 10:38 am

    your post is so nice,
    i just read it twice!
    la!

    • Marla
      March 2, 2012 | 11:14 am

      HA! xoxo

  15. Emily
    March 2, 2012 | 10:13 am

    I totally agree with my mom – how did you get to be so smart!? Love youuu

    • Marla
      March 2, 2012 | 10:20 am

      OH, YOU GUYS. love you too!

  16. Sandra
    March 2, 2012 | 9:55 am

    Every blog post of yours brings the same thought–Marla is so wise. I learn so much from you! You will look so beautiful in that dress.

    • Marla
      March 2, 2012 | 10:02 am

      THANK YOU Aunt Sandra. I love you!!!

  17. Elinor
    March 2, 2012 | 9:44 am

    SO MUCH YES!

    Planning for the future, visualizing it and fantasizing about it, and believing in its inevitability, is lovely. I would never want to take that away from you, or from myself. We just need to remember to plant those seeds in the healthy soil of accepting and loving where we already are.

    Absolutely, completely, 120% true.

    I love the way you write, Marla. The only thing missing from this post is one of your illustrations ;-)

    • Marla
      March 2, 2012 | 9:49 am

      Thank you sweet Elinor – I’m glad that I could write something that hits home with you and what an awesome compliment. Maybe I should have done a nip slip cartoon? KIDDING.

  18. Loran
    March 2, 2012 | 9:32 am

    Marla, this post is sheer genius! Maybe because I agree wholeheartedly with everything you’ve written!

    I also yo-yo dieted for years. I thought I was fat when I wasn’t. Ultimately I accept the size I am today with gratitude for being healthy and alive. I also bought myself some hot Buckle jeans that fit me now!

    You will be a beautiful bride, both inside and out.

    • Marla
      March 2, 2012 | 9:47 am

      LORAN thank you so much for everything that you said, and I know you are a total hottie in those Buckle jeans! mwah!

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HEY YOU!
I'm Marla Hamilton, and this is my blog. I write it because I want to make it very easy for you to feel healthy and great about yourself.Read more about me here.
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