I recently saw an article written by married women writers. They were all older mom’s that accepted the challenge of trying on their old wedding dresses, taking pictures and writing about the emotions that it brought about.
Cruel? I thought so. But, this was a piece conceived of and willingly participated in by women. I would be mortified to participate. As a male, who has always struggled with their weight, I believe, that poor body image, is not an exclusively a female issue. I find nothing redeeming, or positive, in trying on potentially ill-fitting old clothes.
To fit back into my wedding clothes is not something that I aspire. It is something I fear. When I was married, I was at one of the heaviest points in my life. I’ve loved not having to look back at my wedding photos to see a skinny me. Seeing a historical waist-line that exceed my in-seem, has always given me, an odd sense of comfort.
Before, reading further I skimmed through the articles pictures. Some of the women were happily smiling. But, it was the others that got my attention. Those that put on a brave face, as they attempted, and failed, to zip their dresses. I saw call-out quotes, of the women describing their current bodies; “sagging cleavage,” “banger sausage,” and “flab.” I stopped reading.
Women often spend a small fortune on a dress that will be worn once. Following the nuptials, with museum quality preservation, they place it into storage. In the case of tuxedos, the de facto wedding uniform of many men, we have the advantage of renting. We even get a deposit back, if we return the clothing by an agreed upon time. I often refer to my wife as my, “first wife.” It is true. She is also my only wife, so this usually elicits a well-deserved punch. For this reason, I will forgo the temptation of an easy tuxedo rental joke related to marriage.
I thought back on my horrific monkey suit pickup experience. In the dressing room, as I attempted to button the pants I discovered an unsurmountable problem. Connecting the distance between the pants button and button hole, would have made Washington’s crossing of the Delaware, seem like a cakewalk; even if it had been twice as wide, twice as cold, and he and his men were under attack by aliens while crossing!
My entire body went flush. Tears welled up in my eyes. Everything was hot. I had ordered the tuxedo weeks earlier. According to BMI, I was approximately, 30 – 40 pounds overweight, but I had accounted for that when I placed my order. As my anger and embarrassment swelled, I pushed the pants from around my knees, and just sat on the dressing room floor. Eventually, I called out to my best man.
As I handed him the pants, I noticed the inside tag. The shop had ordered pants that were 2 sizes smaller than what I had written down. Here I was about to get married. The happiest day of my life, as they say, and this error had transported back into the body of a child.
Growing up, I wore clothes prominently labeled, “Husky.” Webster’s dictionary defines Husky as, “made in a size meant for the larger or heavier than average boy.” I was never able to fit into the fashion of the day. Parachutes pants might sound like clothing for larger boys, but, I assure you, they were not. They were never made in a size large enough for me to wear. This fashion trend, may single handedly be responsible for my lifelong struggle with self-body image.
As I got older, there were flashes of healthier weights. For one reason, or another they never stuck. I vividly remember a time, after I graduated college. I became a vegetarian and swam every day. I quickly lost weight and rushed to the store to buy my first wardrobe of stylish clothes. Unfortunately, parachute pants were no longer in fashion. Soon after I entered the workforce, however, diet and exercise fluctuated as did my waistline.
My daughters tease me that I never buy new clothes. Referencing pictures of me from years earlier wearing shirts that I actively wear today. My weight it is largely, pun intended, centered around my waist. For this reason, most people, do not notice the constant fluctuation of 20 lbs. that fill me with shame each time that I shower. While my pants size changes frequently, my shirts mostly remain the same.
Think of your worst nightmare. Multiply it by a bazillion. Double it. Sprinkle snakes and spiders on top. Then, you almost have the equivalent of anxiety, that I feel, around pants shopping. For 13-years, I have worn the same black suit in every photo where I needed to dress up. What few people know, until now, is that I have always kept three separate pairs of pants available, to account for my constantly fluctuating weight. I even secretly named them; “Feeling Amazing,” “Getting By” and “Kevin Smith!”
After we were married, my wife and I became more conscious around what we ate; forgoing our love of cheese, bread and wine. Together, we exercised, several times a week. Eventually, getting into great shape. Soon after, our first daughter was born. I mostly avoided the accompanying empathy weight. However, after our second, my priorities shifted, and my weight increased.
Recently, my wife and I, attempted the whole-30 program, I lost nearly 30 pounds. I missed my goal, but, it was noticeable and I felt great. 30 Days later, twenty of it was back. When the additional 10 came calling, it just felt rude, not to invite them along. Few, but me, noticed, but it was emotionally exhausting.
A few days ago, I came home to see my wife dressed as a nineteen-twenties flapper. She looked great. We were headed to an immersive theater production where attendees were encouraged to dress up. As I headed to the closet I was mortified to discover that none of my black pants fit. With no time to go to the store, I threw together an outfit. I pulled it off on the outside, but, I was devastated, on the inside.
At this point, I refuse to buy a fourth pair of pants, larger than my Kevin Smith’s! That would mean I was back to my wedding weight! The size, I have always referred to as simply, “the wedding pants.” I think about those women, voluntarily putting themselves through that act of revisiting their mothballed dresses, I cannot imagine doing it.
I know that I do not participate in enough intense exercise, I get bored. I enjoy walking three to five miles, nearly, every day. But that’s no match for a nasty habit of forgetting to eat, and the intake of liquid calories in social situations. With that in mind, I must stop now and get up from this chair. I have, “Ups to Push,” buns to make steel, and Abs to find! Because, I refuse to go back to my wedding weight!
Photo Credit: Getty Images