I had a wedding dress related freak out last night. I'm still scratching my head a little about it.
First, some back story. From the moment I became a newly engaged person this past August, I started to wonder what I would wear. I will admit that at first that whole part of the wedding process scared me a little. I have had a long journey coming to some sort of peace with my self image. I remember the day and moment that I realized I was beautiful...at age 21. Before then, it truly didn't occur to me that I was attractive. I wasn't overly harsh, most of time, but I wasn't particularly kind either. I hid behind my other wonderful attributes (my general awesomeness, kindness, wholehearted personality and wonderfully loud laugh) and just didn't think about that part of myself. Beauty simply did not apply to my life.
I remember seeing a photo of myself at a familial event soon after that revelation at 21 where I was striking a dance pose. I stared at it, transfixed, admiring the dramatic angle of my cheekbone and the darkness of my eyes. I really liked what I saw. But still, I had this amazing ability to see the stuff I liked but have it be overshadowed by the other parts I struggled with- my arms, my weight, my belly, to name a few.
Over the last 7+ years, I have developed a much stronger sense of self and have become much much more comfortable in my skin, though it is still an ongoing process.
Part of the wedding dilemma in my head was that I have never been a dress person. I used to feel like a football player in a dress. Prom was a challenge. I ended up wearing a dark blouse and some funky funky bell bottom slacks. I remember it being comfortable. Looking back I really don't think I was ready for a dress yet. But at the point of the wedding prep, I'd reached a place where I was ready and excited to experiment. As I looked at more and more wedding dresses, the whole 'traditional' wedding dress thing wasn't meshing with me. So I started investigating different avenues and discovered to my great delight that not only did women wear 'non-wedding' wedding dresses, but they wear different coloured gowns too! I was reminded of my cousin's wedding last summer- his bride wore a beautiful gown that was amazing and unique, and not a traditional wedding gown. One wedding blog I follow showcased a wedding of two women, each wearing an amazing jewel toned full length gown. They were stunning. This concept was liberating. I started to try on dresses and found one designer that fit really well and looked good. The dress I found was black satin, and while I loved the idea of a non white wedding gown, I felt for me that black was a little too extreme. I watched online, and checked in stores for different types of gowns by this designer to see if there was a lighter colour. I had an image in my mind of the dress I tried on in an ivory or gold hue. It seemed that this particular dress was only made in darker colours. I found a brown one that I loved and watched and waited for it go on sale. When it did, I bought it, and considered that 'wedding to do' item checked off. I was excited about my dress, though it did at first seem a little dark. On the other hand, it looked great on and really made my eyes pop. Also, as most who know me would say, I very rarely do things traditionally, so why would this be any different?
Still, I couldn't shake the idea of the original idea of that very same dress in an ivory. I thought it was simply fantasy until I SAW THE DRESS IN IVORY while shopping for someone else. It was few sizes too small, but still it existed. I couldn't believe it. I immediately had the store check for more, but apparently there were none. Anywhere. I began hunting on my own, and could not find anywhere.
Which brings us to last night.
While taking a break from job hunting, I found one. One size smaller. I also, while looking last night, found other lighter colour dresses that I thought had promise too. As I sat there wondering what to do about this new drive for a lighter coloured gown, a part of my brain drew attention to the fact that I already had a dress (which I LOVE) so what was going on. I didn't know. I called my aunt, freaking out that this was suddenly important to me. We talked a bit, and some calm was restored. She made the point that if I want to wear a different dress, that was OK. She was, of course, right. I was more surprised that it had come up at all, and that it all felt really important and a little weird. Then, perfectly timed, James came home and we talked some more about it too.
From talking with both my aunt and fiancee and thinking about it, it seems like I had to give myself permission to see myself differently, and going a little more traditional wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I also am very aware that this whole being comfortable and not to mention excited about dresses at all is new to me. So, as I move through this new space, I will embrace my goofy, my romantic, my traditional ways (I think there are some in there...somewhere) and my beauty equally and allow myself to change my mind and embrace new ideas. And, reserving the right to evolve, I will follow the excitement and curiosity from last night and see what comes out of looking at some lighter gowns.
As I was about to post this, and rereading to make sure there weren't any glaringly obvious spelling errors, I was reminded of butterflies. I have a deep love for butterflies, particularly monarchs. The whole idea that they are born one way then through time spent in their cocoons, become something else though are made up of all the same parts has always fascinated me from a very young age. I think it is safe to say that we all have our own quiet evolutions and revolutions that we go through as we move from one emotional/physical/mental/intellectual place to another, with cocoon like hibernation until we are ready to expand into that new place. Some days, like around this whole thing, I feel like I am coming out of my own cocoon butt first, but hey, at least I am still moving and shifting to a new place:)