I think being engaged is basic-ing me up a bit.
I think it does this to most of us. I’ve dedicated a non-insignificant portion of my life to rallying against the supposition that I have to be married to be whole, good enough, normal. But as I begin planning our wedding, I have said the following things to my partner (and meant them): ⇐ accidental punctuation frown that fits
- We can get married in a church. Yes, I know we don’t want to. But we can. Maybe we should?
- I want to grow out my hair.
- I should quit my job in reproductive health. Yes, I know they’re wrong and I’m right, but wouldn’t it be easier?
- Baby, we’ve discussed this. Wedding dress. Taco bar. Wedding Dress. Taco bar. [[shakes head]]
- and not to my partner, but many times to myself: I should go on a diet.
Now, I can admit that this is all ridiculous. But as I told my person with tears in my eyes, it wasn’t easy for them coming out in a conservative family in the south, and now I want us to be unquestionably appropriate. I want them all to stop and think hey, they’re just like us, and what a happy perfect couple, maybe I’ve been an ass. These are people who are kind to me, so it’s not about evening my own score. I want vindication for the memory of the heartbroken seventeen-year-old version of my partner who lived through that.
All wrapped up in this, as in most everything about me, is my fat identity. If I’m thinner, won’t I love myself more? If I’m thinner, won’t I be more appropriate and less objectionable? Won’t I fit into small spaces and polite society? Won’t I make my partner proud? Won’t I be beautiful?
I’ve kept traditional body expectations at bay in part by keeping traditional roles at arm’s length. So here I am, face to face with one of the most conventional roles women can experience, and it scares the shit out of me. I don’t know how to begin to frame the word “bride” as a part of who I am, and when I think about how to align that with fatness, I get overwhelmed and stop trying.
I have this image in my mind of a slightly poofy white dress with pink accents, an updo with pink streaks, and my new pink glitter rainbow Doc Martens. Punk princess fat bride style with a huge grin. It’s a great fantasy, but I don’t know how I could possibly be strong enough to make it through an appointment at some [[shudder]] bridal store. I can’t conceive of coming out with my self-esteem in one piece after they put too-small dresses around my fat body, pillowing out where my small breasts are, held up with binder clips, and tied together in the back with elastic for the parts that won’t fit over my wide, round tummy. I’ll be in tatters.
The message will be clear: I am not normal. Fatness is not normal, and within fatness, my shape is not normal. I do not fit.
Where are the fat feminist discount bridal boutiques? Can you point toward the queer part of Pinterest? Who has written a guidebook for manners and behavior with the given understanding that gender is a social construct? How can I build a social event to celebrate in our communities, but also nurture the private and sacred nature of our love? And how will I ever, ever, ever go dress shopping?
Instead, I stay focused on the idea that I get to marry the greatest person I’ve ever known. They’re perfect. (Objectively true, and on the internet, so proven fact.) I’ve thrown myself into venue research. I’m making appointments, tracking prices and policies, building an aesthetic and a budget and a dream of something that we’ll call ours. But I can feel a panic on the edges of my body, pushing in past my soft edges. Being a bride is for the beautiful, it says, and fat women are not beautiful.
This, I know, is bullshit and yet I feel it in my bones. This is poison, yet I drop it in my morning coffee.
Excuse me, I have to go make some spreadsheets.