This must have been the three-day weekend for symbolically moving on.
I was about a size ten when I got married four years ago. My wedding dress, which was just a white cotton day dress that I bought on super sale at Marshall Field’s, might have even been a size eight. Whatever size it was, it doesn’t fit now and hasn’t fit since my first anniversary.
I remember the day not just because it was my first ever wedding anniversary, but also because, although I was unaware of it at the time, it was the day I took my first shaky step towards fat acceptance. And by “first shaky step,” what I really mean is that my first wedding anniversary was the day my carefully constructed world of “permanent lifestyle changes” and atypical results collapsed down around me in a spectacular heap.
Like I said, my wedding dress was a white cotton day dress. I was in law school at the time, and unsurprisingly, had very few occasions for which a white cotton day dress was a suitable garment. About six months into marital bliss, I decided that I would wear my wedding dress when my husband and I went out to dinner to celebrate our first anniversary. It’s a cute idea, and it would have been a lovely and appropriate sartorial choice, except of course when our first anniversary rolled around, the dress was way too small.
I’m sure I’ve written about this before on this blog, but in the interest of not making anybody dig through archives, let me offer a bit of back story: Like most people, I yo-yo dieted to varying degrees of success starting at about age eight, up through and including my penultimate diet, a stint on Weight Watchers beginning in 2002, which resulted in my losing about 80 pounds (still never made my goal weight, though). I then went to law school, and realized that the level of intellectual, physical, and mental stamina required to perform at an even remotely acceptable academic level necessitated that I eat more than 1000 calories a day. I also resented using my precious free time counting stupid points, and let’s face it. Sometimes when I was on my fifth straight hour in the library, denying myself just about everything that I loved the only thing keeping me together emotionally was cookies. So, while on some level, I recognized that staying on Weight Watchers and academic success at law school were completely incompatible, on another, deeply denial-laden level, I was sure that, having lose eighty pounds, there was no way I would gain them back. I had made a Lifestyle Change! The Fates of Weights wouldn’t be so cruel as to render all of my hard work and self-deprivation for naught. Surely, the fact that I was suspending my Weight Watchers account for law school, and not for a love of cheese cake or abject laziness or some other fundamental moral failing, meant that I would find myself on the “right” side of that ninety-five percent when everything was said and done.
Yeah, sorry, no. My first anniversary fell the summer after my second year of law school, and that wedding dress was too small by at least two sizes, and let me tell you. I completely lost my shit. Here is my beloved husband, dressed up and ready to go out to dinner at an expensive restaurant, and here I am, sitting on the couch in a t-shirt sobbing my face off because I had failed to do what nearly every other human being who manages to lose weight by simply eating less and exercising more had failed to do. I didn’t see it like that at the time, of course. All I saw was failure. Sure, I had great grades in law school and had secured a fantastic summer clerkship and had, concurrently, just successfully completed one year of marriage to the love of my life but I was also FAT, and thus a FAILURE, and thus WORTHLESS, and thus the money it would cost to feed me at a fancy restaurant, not to mention the cost for labor, materials, shipping, etc., that a new dress in my dreadful new size, would be utterly wasted on me. Oh pathos, up yours!
Eventually, I got it together and donned a skirt and shirt that I derided at the time as “fat clothes” (which I have long ago jettisoned as too small) and actually enjoyed dinner. Not long after, I got a prescription for anti-depressants and then some therapy and then read Rethinking Thin by Gina Kolata and then got turned on to Shapely Prose by a friend who will always hold a special place in my heart for that very reason, and while I still have my moments (had one on Friday that I might write about related to the realization, shocking to absolutely no one but me, that I have back fat) I’m doing okay.
But I still hung on to my wedding dress. At first, I had an idea that I would return to Weight Watchers with that hoary goal of Fitting Back into My Wedding Dress. When that didn’t work out, I decided I should keep the dress because it was my wedding dress and that seemed like something I should keep, even though it was far from the kind of heirloom quality, bespoke garment that I would wish to force, I mean, pass on to my hypothetical children. Then I kind of forgot about it until Saturday when my husband and I tackled the long-delayed but very necessary task of cleaning out the larger of the two closets in our apartment and there it was.
I took the dress, entombed in four-year-old dry cleaner’s plastic, from the back of the closet and regarded it at arm’s length for a minute before stuffing it in a hideously floral and broken wheeled suitcase that my mother pawned off on us last Christmas with the probably undeserved benediction, “Stupid dress, you made me have a nervous breakdown on my first wedding anniversary!”
And just like that, it was gone.
I should probably get my wedding ring resized (again), too, but I can still get it off with the aid of some lubricant (oh hush) so I think I’ll wait until October and see if summer is making me as puffy as I suspect that it is. And congratulations and high-five to Spoonforkfuls.