When I was in my early twenties, I was obsessed with TLC’s The Wedding Story. I couldn’t get enough of the “how we met” stories set to a photo montage, and I loved how a video camera followed the couple and their families to capture every moment from the planning to the reception. I cried when the couple said “I do,” and I loved seeing the big day coming together. For a girl who didn’t plan one aspect of her own wedding before her engagement, I sure did care about other people’s weddings.
I always liked going to weddings as a kid; they boasted tons of free food, an endless supply of cake, a dance floor, and distracted adults. Grown ups let you get away with just about anything at a wedding reception. You get to stay up late, have truckloads of sweets, and if you are a middle school punch table attendant, no one notices if you’re dipping into the spiked punch.
As an adult, I still love weddings. I’m still a fan of free food, lots of cake, dancing, and broad scale, free-range parenting. Also, spiked punch. I am not, however, still a fan of A Wedding Story. The very second I got married, I dropped that show like a hot potato and moved on to A Baby Story. Coincidentally, the very second I gave birth I was totally over A Baby Story. Good for you, having a baby. Whatevs. I did that, too.
For as much as I loved watching other people planning their wedding, I didn’t enjoy my own pre-wedding tasks. My mom and my best friends weren’t local, I didn’t have 20 plus years of dreaming under my belt, and I don’t particularly like party planning. Or dressing up.
I did much of my wedding shopping (makeup, undergarments, jewelry, shoes) by myself, and one day I was at the mall on the hunt for some shapewear to go with the bustier I had already secured that filled out my boobs, and took away my pooch. For you fellas that are reading, shapewear is body slimming undergarments that have compression qualities. Okay fine, it’s a girdle. Every woman has them, but for your wedding, you want the good stuff. Bridal lingerie.
I was at Nordstrom, and with the help of the sales associate, I selected three or four undergarments to try. I headed into the fitting room, which was deserted, and stripped down. Now, for those of you who have never squeezed yourself into one of these torture devices, imagine a swimsuit four times too small. Now picture yourself putting it on. I know women who have had their husbands help shove them into their Spanx, and for my wedding, I wanted to see hardcore slimming. Hardcore slimming takes some muscle to get into, which I didn’t have, and is actually why I needed to be slimmed.
I tried on two of my four options, and was fairly pleased with the results. Number three was a doozie. It was high waisted, and had extra compression panels on the belly and hips. It was a size smaller than I probably needed, but I was hopeful that I would drop a few pounds before the big day, so it would be smart to plan for that. I got both feet in with no problem. Just above my knee is where I started to see some resistance. I started to wiggle my hips, the move that all women instinctively know for putting on clothing that is too tight. I had practiced this move with jeans for years, so I was still feeling confident in my abilities to squeeze into these gigantic gut-sucking panties. I was able to cram the hips that would eventually bear children with ease into the elastic, and tucked my belly in, too.
I was sweating, and breathing hard, and wanted to sit down for a minute, but the undergarments were too tight for me to sit. I admired my sleek physique for a moment, and then I started to panic. The desire to get that girdle off of me immediately was overwhelming, and I took the deepest breaths I could to avoid hyperventilating. I hooked my thumbs under the elastic, and tried to slide them down my belly to my hips. No movement. The tightness of the gear coupled with the sweat from my exertion had me trapped. In a girdle.
I didn’t know what to do. Do I holler for the sales associate? How could she help? Kneel in front of my business and pull with all of her might? No, thank you. I started cursing my mom for living three hours away (I moved, not her) and my friends for having lives that didn’t revolve around mine, and my fiance for not going shopping with me (I don’t think I actually invited him). I did the only thing I could think of. I called my best friend. Thank goodness she answered, so I could tell her about my situation, and even though I could barely breathe, I started to laugh.
I’m not sure why I thought I could get the undergarments off while I was on the phone, but I tried, tucking the phone in the crook of my shoulder, so I could tug with both hands. I was bouncing off the fitting room walls, laughing so hard I was crying, while cursing at my friend on the phone. Finally, I was able to get the girdle over my hips, and I was home free. I got off the phone, seriously considered actually buying the girdle that almost killed me, and got dressed.
I walked out of my fitting room stall, right into a group of four teenage girls all staring at me. I was disheveled and exhausted, and while anyone over the age of 30 would have taken one look at the products in my hand and understood what was going on in that fitting room; these girls were too young.
They didn’t know about Spanx.
They didn’t know I was on the phone.
They thought I was a crazy lady talking to herself and kicking her own ass in the fitting room.
I was too worn out to explain. I slinked past them, eyes down, and headed to the register where I purchased one of the first two choices. Looking back, I’m thankful for two things. First, that I didn’t have a camera phone back then. There definitely would have been a picture. And second, that I didn’t get the killer Spanx with the expectation that I would lose weight before the wedding. I didn’t lose weight. In fact, my dress had to be taken out three days before the wedding.