Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Big Bliss experience

Whenever I got to Toledo I watch unnecessary amounts of TLC and HGTV. After a long week, I love vegging out to an episode of Say Yes to the Dress on a Friday night. I could write a whole book (and maybe somebody has) detailing feminist critiques of that show and wedding culture. Regardless, its my guilty pleasure.

(source, source)

This past weekend I was in Toledo and enjoyed my usual dose of cable TV. Friday night after a few episode of Say Yes to the Dress a new show came on. It was a spin off of Say Yes to the Dress featuring plus size brides, called Big Bliss.

I felt so angry watching this show. Woman after woman came into the shop and express their inability to find themselves beautiful. They would put on amazing dress after amazing dress and still look in the mirror and feel terrible.

They hated the way they looked, hated their bodies, and in turn, hated themselves. I found all of them beautiful. I understand beauty is subjective, but still in each woman I saw grace, elegance, and style. No – I saw a PERSON who had value and deserved dignity. It was literally painful to see the self hate.

Say Yes to the Dress: Big Bliss Clip

The whole thing made me angry. 

I was angry at a wedding industry that says only thin brides are beautiful. I was angry at the fashion industry that doesn’t make clothes that fit all people, and perpetuates unreal expectations of beauty. To me the world needs to change not these women, yet I am sure other viewers felt exactly the opposite. I hated that other people are watching this show and victim blaming. I can see them now saying to a friend, if only they would lose 50 or 60 pounds they wouldn’t have a problem. Even the comments on the video posted above made my blood boil.

These women don’t need to change, the world that creates stereotypes, stigmatizes, and disenfranchises people based on the size of their body needs to change. This is blatant discrimination and should not be tolerated. In my rage I vowed to never let anything, a dress, an industry, or a society make me hate myself and my body. I am, like every other person, too valuable to be minimized in this way.

I haven’t mentioned this lately on this blog but personally my body has been changing. I have alluded to the terrible eating and inactivity habits I adapted while trying to finish school and find a job. My clothes fits differently so I was aware my body had changed, but this weekend I became strikingly aware to the magnitude by which my body had changed.


This realization came at the mall. I went to the mall to spend a coupon I received for my birthday. I was excited to go to the mall and find some new clothes. When I got there I grab literally two arm loads of clothes, and rushed to the changing room. There were so many things on the rack I loved. I thought that I had hit the jackpot.

But then, shirt, after pants, after dress – nothing fit. Not one item I brought in fit. I knew my body had changed, I even made sure to get bigger sizes than I would have 6 months again, but still not one item fit.
I was paralyzed. Less than 12 hours ago I watched women go through these terrible shopping experiences that inevitably fueled their body hate. Less than 12 hours ago I vowed never to let something as silly as a dress make me feel less valuable. Yet there I was, exactly in their shoes.  I was ashamed, frustrated and sad.

I went back out to the store floor determined to feel better. I grabbed more clothes, in even bigger sizes, and even grabbed clothes that wouldn’t traditionally be considered “flatter” for a woman my size. Specifically I grabbed a white dress. I got a size I knew would fit, and rushed back into the dressing room.

Some of the clothes looked ok, and they now fit, but there still was no wow. The usual rush and excitement of new clothes was gone. I was too far in the hole by this point. The last item I tired on was the white dress. It fit well and was comfortable, but still all I saw in the mirror were my flaws. The rolls of fat on my back, the bludges around my hips. There I was, in a dressing room, in a white dress, feeling exactly like those women on TV, also in a dressing room, in a white dress.

I don’t have any answers or profound statements about this experience. I am still processing all my emotions and perceptions.

I guess I wanted to share this story because I know I am not alone in these feelings. I hope to keep thinking about this experience and figure out where I can grow from it. Right now I still feel hurt. I am hoping that time will bring wisdom, and I can share that wisdom here.

I guess the only advice I can give, and am giving to my self, is to not give up. I need to stand strong in my beliefs and figure out how I can use my skills in self reflection, self care, and social justice to address this problem. If anything I hope sharing this story makes others feel less alone, and make people aware that if you feel this way, there is someone with you in your corner trying to find a way to make things better – whatever that means.

1 comment:

  1. I like that you gave yourself permission to feel those emotions in the dressing room. I know I do a lot of "pushing" with my emotions, and it's so much better in the long run to just wait it out and say "Okay, this is what I'm feeling..and it's ok."