I had a conversation with an acquaintance that really disturbed me the other day, and I wanted to share it here. It went something like this:
Him: You look nice today. That's a pretty dress.
Me: Thanks. It's actually my wedding dress.
Him: Really? How long ago did you get married?
Me: About eight years ago.
Him: Wow! So you can still fit into your wedding dress? That's great. Not a lot of women can say that.
Him: I can see why your husband married you!
I didn't say anything to him about it, just walked away. But I couldn't stop thinking about it. And here is what I wish this person would know:
I am not just a body.
My worth as a human being, a woman and a wife is not measured in inches or dress size.
My marriage is built on more than looks.
Physical attraction is one part of what brought my husband and I together, but it does not in any way form the foundation of our relationship. Our aging, changing bodies do not threaten our marriage.
There is nothing magical about a wedding dress.
Special as it is because of the fact that I wore it to get married, this dress is not any meaningful measure of my size, shape or beauty. In fact, there is nothing remarkable about the fact that I can continue to wear a stretchy, sleeveless, empire-waist dress with a full skirt through various stages of my life.
The shape of my body has changed and will change again, but that does not define my beauty or worth.
Some dresses I've had for years still fit me. Some dresses I could wear two years ago don't fit anymore. This is neither good nor bad; it is not cause for celebration or sorrow. It just is.
I can imagine someone reading this might say, "Oh, come on. You're making too big a deal of this conversation." But you know what I kept thinking about? I kept thinking about this man's wife, and his children, and wondering how many times they had been subjected to this kind of casual, thoughtless chauvinism. I wonder how much they have been made to feel like the shape of their bodies is a determinant of their worth.