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I’m Louise. Blogger. Wife. Designer of TruLu Couture Veils + Accessories.  If you’d like to know more, check out my bio.

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« How Big is My Butt? Part II | Main | Real Life vs. Bride Life »
Thursday
Mar182010

Does My Butt Look Big in This Gown?

I have been so sad reading some of my favorite blogs recently. Everybody is feeling pressure regarding body image and how they will look on their wedding day. I get it. I really do. Some people might look at me and say, "Shut up you, skinny bitch! Go eat some fried chicken!" But I don't care what the scales say, it's all in our minds. It really is. You might ask what a tall, relatively slender woman knows about it. I know enough. And I'll tell you how. I am 5'10" tall. I have been this tall since the 7th grade. I have always been tall. Always. I weighed less than 7 pounds and was 2 feet long when I was born.  I remember seeing a picture of my kindergarten class that was taken from up high, looking down on the class. I'm in the back and a full head height above everyone else. And the funny thing is that I am totally young for my class, always the last to turn 13, 16, 18, 21, etc. So not only was I always the youngest, I was always the tallest.

I started the growth spurt in the 6th grade when I was 11. I remember I was 5' tall at the beginning of 6th grade. At the end of 7th grade I was 5'8". At the end of 8th grade I was 5'9". I started high school at 5'9.75" and I don't think I measured myself again for another 10 years! I ended up at 5'10" on the nose. I remember stealing my older brother's Levi's for about 2 months and then giving them right back. Then I wore my mom's clothes for a few months and then gave those back. Thank GOD we lived in Hawaii at the time and all I needed was t-shirts and shorts, but it was still a fairly traumatic experience.

Part of the problem was that I was still a little girl, but I was super-tall so people thought I was older and treated me that way. With the height came hips and thighs, but very little boob. I remember being mortified that as a pre-teen I couldn't pull off the Dove or Dolphin shorts. ALL my friends wore them. I had a pair, but never wore them. Why? Because at 11 years old I had goopy thighs with CELLULITE. What 11 year old has effin' cellulite? Not familiar with these shorts? Here, let me get you up to speed with the early 80's garb!

Source

 Totally hot, right? Total trauma is what these shorts caused me. Effin' four foot nuthin' 11 year olds running around in these things all tan and petite and I'm in like a giant in Bermuda shorts because I am SO self conscious about my legs. I loathed mini skirts. Still do. The one thing about being in my 30's is that I can wear longer skirts and it's like, OK. And let's talk about boys for juuuuust a second. Let's see, the average MAN is 5'10". Yeah, and when was I that height? Are you keeping up? Right. When I was about 14. And when do boys get tall? Not until like the middle of high school! All I know is that I hunched and slumped everywhere I went. Don't believe me? Check out this picture from my 8th grade year book. Try (if you can) to ignore the total tools in the foreground and check out my scary 13 year old self in the background.

 

I seriously tried to just disappear and never, ever could. And yes, I'm carrying a flute because to make it all so much better, I was in BAND. First chair, mother-effers so you can suck it! I was GOOD! But you can see even in this picture that my legs were like freakin' stove pipes. Ugh. I just HATE my legs. And you know what? It doesn't matter what I do, they barely change. I can run miles and miles and miles and miles and still, no change. I can do squat after squat after squat and while my butt definitely looks and feels tighter, I still have goopy thighs. Leg presses, diets, weight training - you name it, I've done it and while I can get super-duper skinny with all the squats and miles, I'm still verging on cankles. We all have our nemesises and mine are my thighs.

As I became more and more aware of my body as I got older, the more an more dissatisfied I was with the way I looked. I was different. I was awkward. I was too tall. I was always the new kid (Marine Brat). I was always too something, even if it was a good something. I just wanted to blend. The weird thing is that I am about the same size now as I was in college, but then I wore sizes 10, 12 and 14. I wore large and extra-large everything because that's how I saw myself. Now? I wear a size 6, sometimes a 4, sometimes an 8. But I'm the SAME SIZE. Talk about a skewed since of self.

In my early twenties, I moved to LA. I was still a frump-a-holic and wearing all things too big for me. I became the manager of a Charlotte Russe, which at the time was so much cooler than it is now. At the time, there were only about 20 stores, only in California and run by a family. Now it's this huge mass merchant, bought out by Wet Seal in the 90's. Ugh. But at the time, it was so fun! I had to dress the part but struggled to find things that I thought fit. One day as I was wrestling with a shopping purchase, one of my assistant managers came up to me and handed me a handful of clothes and said, "For God's sake Louise, please try these on." I looked at them in horror. HORROR. A suit with a cropped jacket and a mini skirt. Skinny pants and belly shirt (it was the 90's y'all!). All in sizes I'd never even considered before. I gasped and handed them back. She said, "For me? Please? Just try them on for me." So I did. And I was shocked. I looked OK. I actually looked good.  It felt weird. I bought the suit and wore it the next day. On my way home from work, I stopped at the gas station and was pumping gas. A man in Ferrari pulled up next to me and said, "I'm a happily married man, but I just had to stop and tell you that you are stunning." He rolled up his window and drove off. I stood there with the pump dripping gas from my hand and my jaw on the fucking ground. At 26 years old, NEVER in my life had a total stranger paid me such a compliment. It took moving to LA, of all places, for me to feel pretty.

But feeling pretty from the compliments of strangers only lasts so long.

When a lot of my friends started getting engaged in their mid-twenties, I was no where near making those sorts of life decisions. I was barely able to hold onto a boyfriend for longer than 3 months. I looked at my married friends and thought, "Lemmings." I prided myself on my singleness. I am single dammit! I can go anywhere and do anything and be anyone I want to be. And I did all those things. I jumped out of airplanes and kayaked white-water rapids and ran marathons and had a groovy career. I was hip, by God! I had my own life! And chicks with their own, cool lives eventually got the cool guys to fall head over heels for them, right? Wrong. I was doing all these amazing things that were supposed to complete me as a person but I still felt empty and sad. I decided I was being greedy. I chastised myself, thinking that I was leading a great life and that I should be happy and satisfied, but I wasn't. I knew that it had to be because of the way I looked. If I was this great, accomplished person, then it must be the shell that's the issue. Right?

I blamed the guys in Chicago too. I did. I did some serious, mother-effing power dating there. I thought of writing a book about all the dates I went on, but some bitch beat me to the punch. I was miserable though. I felt like these guys were all too something. Too divorced. Too child-ridden. Too impotent (uh huh). Too inflicted with AIDS (yup, that too). Too short. Too rich. Too poor. Too nice. Too rude. You name it, I at least had one bad date with it. Something must be so wrong with these guys! Sheesh.

When I moved to Nashville in 2005, I vowed that I would not lead the life I had in Chicago. I would not be a social hermit/dating junkie. I would build friendships with unmarried people who shared similar ideas and artistic endeavors. I would only date people I was truly interested in. I would have fun. I would be the person I always wanted to be. And again, I kinda did that. And greedy little me still wasn't happy. I was thin, I had a great job, I was an accomplished person - so why couldn't I find a guy I could stand being with? I ALWAYS was the dumper, never the dumpee. But then I was dating a guy and I got dumped. Hard. Out of the blue. And it rocked me to my core. About the same time, I destroyed my knee by over-training for another marathon. I had knee surgery that was supposed to have a 6-week recovery time. A year later I was 15 pounds heavier, still dumped and more miserable by the second. It finally dawned on me that maybe it wasn't the outside that was messed up. I hooked myself up with a therapist. I wasn't happy about that. I felt weak. I felt like I should be ashamed because I couldn't pick myself up by my own bootstraps. I was the daughter of a Marine, dammit! What was wrong with me?

So off to therapy I went where I bitched about my friends looking at me cross-eyed. The boy who dumped me. My job. My hippy-dippy little therapist, in her long flowy skirts and Dansk shoes would listen and nod and never said too much. One day after a few weeks had passed, she asked me why I had come to see her. I just broke out in sobs. Here's my life in a nutshell....blah, blah, blah. After a lot of talking, a lot of thinking and a lot of reading we put our arms around the issue:  body dysmorphic disorder.  I explored my eating patterns (not good) and self image habits (even worse). It was really hard and very eye-opening. I changed some behaviors, removed certain people from my life and instead of looking at my outside, I looked inside. I didn't like what I saw and it took a while to realize that and change it.

Right at the tail end of all that is when I met The Candyman. I remember we were driving on the Natchez Trace and he made some comment about something that triggered me thinking about all this stuff and he could totally tell. He said, "Tell me." And I did. It just all came out, for the first time in my life. I told someone who I was for real, not the runner or the sky-diver or the awkward teen, but who I was. Not only was he OK with it, he liked it and trusted me with his feelings. He stuck by me, even when I continued to struggled with it. He sticks by me now when I stare at myself sideways in the mirror and ask, "Honey, do I look fat? Does my ass look bigger than last week? Are my boobs sagging?" He sighs and says, "Yes. You are gigantic. Now please come to bed." Somehow, this makes me feel better and I don' know why. I don't care. Maybe because I know he loves me for me insides as well as my outsides.

So after all I've written, here is where I want to end up: you are who you are inside. Is it difficult to be a size not portrayed in the media? Oh my, yes it is. Is it torture sometimes? Oh, so much so. But ladies! Oh, you wonderful ladies with your intellect and your charm and your humour. Please don't beat yourselves up. I want to turn you inside out to the world and show everyone what beauty is.  

I love this from The Relentless Bride. Amy Jean recently got married and posted Her vs. The Model. In her own words:

Not to toot my own horn ... but I have to say I still love the dress on me more than on her. So I guess it was the right decision - because how often can you say that when comparing yourself to someone who gets paid to model!

Seriously though, I think it has to do with the fact of how amazing the dress made me feel more than how I looked. So that would be the ultimate dress advice: does it make you feel
fabulous?

THE MODEL

 

THE RELENTLESS BRIDE, AMY JEAN

 I think it might take a while for a woman to come into her own. I think a lot of people I know got there a lot earlier than I did. Now I know that the whole thing was a process and that it was OK for me not to be there when everyone else was. We are all unique and wonderful in our own ways. You brides? That guy who asked you to marry him? He sees more than just the dimple of cellulite on your left butt cheek. In fact, he thinks that dimple is cute. He sees you and wants to be with you. I think the better women get at accepting who we are and finding our way, the more Amy Jean's we'll have in the world - as real women.

As a side note, this was an incredibly difficult post for me to write. Normally stuff just flows from my brain to my fingers, but this one, not so much. It took me two days to write with multiple revisions (I rarely revise, I'm definitely a stream of consciousness kind of girl). I'm not sure if this conveys what I want to express in the best way, but I hope it does. My goal was to share something about myself in hopes that it helps someone else travel through bouts of self-consciousness with less turmoil than I did or less than what they are currently experiencing. I hope that somehow I accomplished that.

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Reader Comments (21)

It's so funny (not funny "ha-ha"...more like ironic) because I look at you and I think - wow, I would give ANYTHING to have her body! Don't get me wrong, I know you work your butt off to have that body, but you know what I mean. :) You are beautiful...and I have never seen a more beautiful bride in my life than you on your wedding day! :)

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Kriss

Miss Kriss,
I eye-ball your get-away-sticks all the time and want them for my very own. It's true.

Thanks for the sweetness,
L.

March 19, 2010 | Registered CommenterLouise

Just added your site in my link list! Great blog!

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Office Bride

You are freaking amazing and I am such a better woman for having met you. You embody strength and elegance and you have a smokin hot body to boot. love ya girl!

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSharon

It's so amazing, because your short, sometimes fat, sometimes "pleasantly plump" mom has always been proud (and at times even a little envious) of my tall, beautiful (yes, always, even in middle school), elegant, fantastic daughter!

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMom

wow, felt the same way growing up - 5'10', stick straight figure, totally self-conscious, towered over everyone. middle school=awful. I'll never have the cleavage that so many women do, but hell, I'll try to stick focusing on my other assets! no strapless wedding gowns for me, I know my body by this point. so glad I found your blog, you have a lot of great things to say!

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKt

i love this post. as a bride in the thick of exercising, dieting, dress shoppe humiliation (when will these places start carrying anything over an 8?) this was exactly what i needed to remember that i am fabulous myself and if amsale or vera wang don't see fit to carry a dress that might actually fit me when i try it on then i don't need them anyways.

then i saw the comment from your mom and i full on started sobbing at my desk. that coupled with pms means major hormones so the guys in my office probably think i'm pregnant. :)

thanks for this. so truly needed. i wish the new york times and the washington post and style me pretty and every single news outlet in the world would publish this so everyone could feel the way i feel right now.

xo

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbride

Funny how our self perception is sooo different from how other people see you! I have ALWAYS seen an elegant, poised, STUNNING woman, and have always been jealous of your height and figure!! I'm so glad you got treated for BMD, because you are a one-of-a-kind beauty, my friend.

I am already stressing about the dress and the bod, and I haven't even gotten the ring yet!!! LOL

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

Such a great, brave, well-written post. And I'm so glad that the Candyman makes you feel good and helps you feel happy. I have always wanted you to be so happy because I love you so much.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGoodEnoughWoman

A note to all you bloggers: This "middle school misfit" was so well-liked and admired (even tho she didn't wear the fashionalbe shorts) that her WHOLE CLASS threw her a humdinger surprise going-away party when we left Hawai!!!
(they even hired a bus!) It's like she said, it's what's on the INSIDE that counts!

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMom

I was just struggling with some self-image issues this morning. Thank you for sharing!

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlyn

Thank you. Really. I can relate to so much of this. I'm sure I'm not the only one. I spent much of my teens and 20s struggling with my appearance. Growing up there weren't a lot of examples of women in who looked like me in the media. I'm not ashamed to admit that I had days when I would look in the mirror and wish my hair were lighter or my skin a different color or my eyes not so slanted. People would call it exotic, but I just wanted to look like everyone else. And I think it would have been easier if I looked like one thing at least, but when you're a multi-racial kid, you don't fit in anywhere. You would think growing up in Hawaii would make it easier, but it really just meant being surrounded by other people dealing with the same issues. Anyway! I am rambling. That was my long winded way of saying, I hear you sister. :)

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkc

@Mom-I totally forgot about that party! It was a humdinger, wasn't it! But it wasn't just for me, it was for me and another friend who was moving away too.

@GEW - Love you too!

March 19, 2010 | Registered CommenterLouise

The party may have been for another person too, but the huge banner on the bus said "ALOHA LOUISE"! :)

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMom

Fantastic post. I came across your blog about a year ago when I was looking for a photo of a real person in "my" wedding dress. Needless to say A LOT of comparing has gone on! This is an incredibly honest message that is a great reminder that so many of us, even those that we envy, struggle with the same things we do.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMM

You are beautiful- inside and out. And that first comment from your mother, it made me cry. She really loves you. What's better than that (this coming from someone without a good mother)?

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercupcake wedding

Louise, you rock. For real. This post is awesome. I kinda needed to hear it. It's so easy to get wrapped up in trying to have that perfect body, when really we should be wrapped up in loving our own skin. Thanks for the pick me up.

P.S. I check your blog every day now, and one of my favorite ways to procrastinate from homework is reading through your older posts haha. xo

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarissa

You are glorious darling! Body image is something so many of us struggle with and yes may only come to grips with years later.

Your mom is right though - I'm sure you rocked for a very long time. Keep on shining inside out.

March 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChic 'n Cheap Living

As a 30-year-old who has been the exact same size for the last 20 years (yes, at 10 years old I was 5'8" with boobs and hips) I can totally relate. Dress shopping has been a nightmare for me because every salesperson I've encountered is like, "show that body off honey!" while I continue to grapple with the awkwardness of too much body too soon. Luckily, my fiance finds me beautiful just as I am and I've found a dress that makes me feel beautiful! Crazy how wedding planning brings these things to the surface! Thank you for your honesty in blogging about this and for helping me to feel less alone on this one!

March 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKat

Girl, First i have to say... I think you are perfect!!! But you are right, what i think doesn't really matter b/c it is how one feels about oneself. And I am so happy that my post was an inspiring post... b/c yours was definitely inspiring for me!

For me, its about loving myself for myself. I will never be tall, or long limbed, have a graceful gorgeous neck - like you (yes, things i notice b/c i'm jealous <3) or... well the list can go on & on, BUT one thing I am and will always be... is me. Granted I am Short, Short legged, short arms, a small hunch back-ish... but i've learned to not only accept who i am, but to enjoy it, love it and many times laugh at it. It's me. And sure... my ass has gone from a 6 to 10 for years, then up to a 12/14 and back down again... but my heart... my heart WILL always remain the same, continue to grow and continue to try to improve with each new experience I face. So you are right. It's whats inside, your heart...and that's what counts. that's what is loved-by our family, our friends, our husbands... by ourselves.

One thing i can say that always makes me feel better is exercise. I know i probably sound like a commercial, but to be honest, when i'm healthy & exercising 3-5x a week, i smile more. I'm happier and that overflows into every aspect of my life. When i'm not exercising... that means i'm usually eating like crap too - and it makes me feel frumpy, sad and just so disgusted with myself... and its not even about my weight or size, but just the feeling of being pro-active about my outsides, AND my insides too - and not the emotional insides but the physical insides.

Totally toast to you. I agree. And I can't help but sometimes wish - if only i knew sooner, but then i know - the learning to love oneself experience is priceless and necessary for each of us at our own pace and time!

To all the gorgeous and REAL women out there, love yourselves and embrace yourselves b/c you are beautiful and don't be shy about it! :) Cheers!

Awe Louise I love that you did this blog! I am so happy for you! Yay! You did it and got married and you ROCK!

Miss you!

(yet here you are- just a mouse-click away)

;^)

*hugs*

Jay

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJay

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