I need to start this blog by admitting a fairly new addiction. I love the various incarnations of the show, Say Yes to the Dress. After being without cable for a few years, I got it back during the summer. And that is when I discovered this seemingly simple show about girls picking out their wedding dresses. At first I was puzzled about how there could be an entire show around this activity. I mean, I love pretty dresses as much as the next woman, but seriously? But then I realized, as they sometimes say on SYTTD, it isn't really about the dress.
There is drama, omg so much drama involved, especially in the Atlanta spin-off (plus Lori and Monty are such a hoot). There are families and friends that treat the bride terribly, spoiled brides, grieving brides, insecure brides, controlling grooms, over-protective fathers and mothers of every stripe and color (the Mama Drama always makes for a good show). I just love the psychology and family dynamics (hey, they're not MY family dynamics LOL). I have laughed and cried watching this show about girls trying on fancy dresses.
But this blog isn't really about Say Yes to the Dress, as much as I love it. It is about a recurring theme that I see on the show. Body Image and how messed up it can be. The brides in the shows often have problems with their bodies. Some plus sized brides struggle to feel beautiful. But so do some very thin brides, especially those who have lost a significant amount of weight. It reminds me how some of us here on SP struggle with our body image and how hard it can sometimes be to see the best aspects of our appearance because we are so focused on what we see as our faults, even if those faults are in the past.
I just watched an episode of SYTTD, Atlanta in which a bride had lost 65 lbs and was very, very slender but all she saw were "problem areas" when she looked in the mirror. She came with a wonderfully supportive bunch of family and friends and it was heartbreaking to see her struggle to truly see herself and just as poignant to see the sadness and concern on the faces of the people who loved her.
It took the sales consultant, the fashion director AND the store owner to help the bride see "the new girl" she was now instead of the heavier one she had been. They all talked about how she was stuck in the past and the fashion director commented, "She needs to get back to the future." This episode ended happily with the bride choosing the form fitting dress of her dreams and talking about finally being able to celebrate all that she had accomplished through careful eating and exercise. Sadly, I have seen other episodes where the bride could not reach that point of seeing how she truly looked, instead leaving the salon miserable and her self-confidence tattered.
I know I struggle with how much my body has changed in the past year and a half. My recent blog, "I sometimes don't know who this person is" addressed how I am at times surprised both by how I used to look and how I look now. In the restroom at work, I must be seeing myself in the mirror from a certain angle and it looks like I am slinking by, the woman with no hips. That woman looks a bit startled at times. She even pauses to stare on occasion.
Not that I don't have faults by the dozen to catalog, if I let myself do so, even though I am now at the lowest weight I've been in three decades. And I see people on SP commenting on how they hate their bodies still. I am really trying hard not to get sucked up in that need for perfection, that need to look like we think we are supposed to look, or seeing our short-comings compared to that celebrity or that SP member who is 6 inches taller but wearing the same size pants. Ok, I came across that last example the other day, but I decided I am from good peasant stock and we are not built for speed, but endurance. I still look fine in my size 6.
We need to do more than take good care of our bodies with the right food, care and exercise. We also need to love and appreciate our bodies. We should speak of them kindly and not cast aspersions on them. Many of the things I could find most fault with in my body have been caused by the choices I've made over the years. The least I can do now is treat it with respect and gentleness in both my actions AND my words.
I understand when others struggle with their body image, because I struggle too. But it hurts to see them struggle, to hear the horrible things they say to themselves about themselves. As I grow older, the more I shudder a bit inside when I read or hear someone say "I hate..." about herself or her body. Since we only get this one body, how about we figure a way to make peace with it, to take good care of it so it takes good care of us, to speak well of it the way we speak well of those we love?
So let's appreciate our bodies for all they have been through, often at our own hands and for all they can do. Let's say yes to being comfortable with who we are, how we look and what we can accomplish with the bodies we have been blessed with.