Friday, April 15, 2011

The Girdle Incident

We seem to console one another in our weight gain. When our friends say they're fat and need to go on a diet, we say, "Oh, you're not fat, you just need to firm up a little bit." Or, "You're just big-boned." That's what people told me. And what I told myself. "I'm tall and carry my weight well. I could be bigger." True enough. I could have been bigger. But I had gained 50 pounds since I got married, so I was well on my way to getting a lot bigger.

Looking at pictures of older female members of my extended family, I was gaining at the same rate as they did as they aged. You know, a few pounds with each child and year until you're "pleasingly plump" as my Aunt Betty would say. But I knew that once menopause hit, I would be beyond plump to downright fluffy.
Denial works well except when it doesn't. My husband and I were asked to host our niece's wedding. I needed to get a dress. I hadn't worn one in years. So, my mom and I decided to go shopping. I quickly realized that I was going to have to shop at the same stores my mom was looking for her grandma-of-the-bride dress. The thing about these stores is they are all about coverage. One of the stores had the name "barn" in it. I think that speaks for itself.

As I tried on a dozen dresses and faced the mirror, I was mortified. What the heck happened here? I looked like a fat, old lady. Finally, I found one that I thought didn't look too bad. When I came out of the dressing room, my mom took a long look, cocked her head and said, "Well...they do make body girdles." If my own mother thought I needed a body girdle, then I had really let myself go. I wasn't going to wear a girdle, for crying out loud. Where would all the fat go once I got one on? Up to my neck or down to my knees? I knew my wearing dress days were over. I bought pants (the same ones I'm wearing in my profile picture and which I'm happily swimming in).
It took a couple more humiliating experiences before I finally got serious and made real lifestyle changes to becoming healthy. But it wasn't until I got much thinner that I started wearing dresses again. I realize now, though, that no matter what weight you are, in your 40s you'll never look like you did in your 20s and 30s.

Recently, I bought my mother-of-the-bride dress and decided I needed a little "help." I went to Penneys and tried on the body girdles. Extreme torture. My shoulders got stuck in one, and I couldn't get it off. I had to have the lady helping me pull me free. I hadn't realized that I had gotten stuck in the leg when I slipped it over my head. She helped me try on some more. Perspiring and with hair standing on end, I squeezed into another one. She said that I looked "just lovely" when I put my dress on over it. But I couldn't breath, and I certainly couldn't bend to sit down. I'd have to stand or lie down through the entire wedding and reception.

I gave up on the girdle idea. My daughter has since told me that they are not called girdles. They are called body shapers and all of her friends wear them. So, as it turns out girdles or body shapers are actually for the very young and thin. I've decided to get another mother-of-the-bride dress. One with more coverage.

1 comment:

  1. I would have had a panic attack if I had gotten caught in it. ugh

    So glad you gave it a try and so very glad you tossed the idea out.