Post by Carly Glasmyre for the Kind Kindred series.
image courtesy of wikipedia.org
Let people see you. They see your upper arms are beautiful, soft and clean and warm, and then they will see this about their own, some of the time.-Anne Lamott, Small Victories
I am dreading this.
This is the thought that runs through my head as I try on my wedding dress for the final fitting. The satin bodice frames my waist beautifully, the skirt hangs so my toes peek out when I walk. It’s a dress I picked out months ago, a dress that I still love…except for one thing: it doesn’t hide enough of me.
I wanted one of those sheath dresses with lace sleeves; I thought it would be perfect for my October wedding. I told everyone I wanted sleeves because I was worried about being chilly in the fall weather, but really I just wanted to hide my arch nemeses—my upper arms.
My upper arms haven’t always plagued me—as a teen and young adult, I always worked out enough that there was some tone going on there, so that I didn’t have to worry about them or worry about others looking at them. But one master’s degree, a full-time job, and one growing business later, my upper arms are no longer my friends.
Through my engagement, I worked out haphazardly, trying to get my arms back in order. I felt somehow that it would be important that they look good, that they look perfect. But my arms didn’t listen. So there they are, staring back at me in the mirror, just sort of hanging there at my sides.
I told my fiancé, “You’re the lucky one. You get to wear a suit. I’m the one who’s on display in the big white dress. I’m the one everyone’s going to be looking at.”
He looked a little hurt when I told him that, but I didn’t stop to investigate that. I continued to let my dread of the wedding—my dread of being seen—rule my mind. I was completely focused on me and what they would see when I walked down the aisle. Somehow I’d turned our closest family and friends (you know, the ones that love me) into judges for the new hit show Is Carly Good Enough?!!!
I can talk to you about patriarchy, social conditioning, and the effed-up institution of marriage all day long. We can look at how those things made me feel, how those things convinced me that I am defined by my body; how my wedding isn’t about love but about a woman being on display, being sold to a man, and that if she’s imperfect/damaged others won’t approve of his purchase.
Or, we can look at the choice I made to buy into those ideas. We can look at how I chose to buy into the illusion that weddings are about being the best; the illusion that my not-so-toned upper arms define me and have the power to ruin one of the most important days of my life.
Through this choice, I gave up a joyful experience of wedding planning in favor of obsessing over what people would think of me. I wounded my fiancé by telling him that he’s basically going to be invisible on our wedding day. And now I’m ruining my final fitting, tight-lipped and glaring at my arms.
I look into the mirror and straight into my eyes. I remember that, if I made the choice to buy into those ideas, I can also choose to let them go. I remember that it’s only my decision that determines whether I’m feeling joy or anxiety. I remember that my body is a work in progress, and that she will continue to change in the years to come. I remember that respecting her is important to me.
And I remember that I want my wedding day to be a celebration of not me but us, of my fiancé and me, and our decision to spend the rest of our lives together.
“How does that feel?” the seamstress asks.
I smile and say, “Perfect.”
|Carly Glasmyre is a life coach, mindset mentor, and student & teacher of peace. She firmly believes that our happiness and true power comes when we shift within and listen to our inner voice. Her greatest joy is supporting women in reaching their goals while maintaining a sense of sanity, happiness, and peace.|