Modern Day Corsets

My mom and I ordered my wedding gown back in May.  It came in in August, just a few weeks ago.  Rather than spend almost the cost of the dress on tailoring, we decided to take it to a family friend who does alterations for a living.

The dress came in, I traveled to Knoxville, we went to the friend’s house for a fitting.

Once we got there, I took off my normal clothes and put the dress on, wearing my normal bra.  The woman looked at the dress, agreed that yes, it was too big and would need some taking in, and then refused to measure me until I had purchased a strapless, longline corset bra.  We spent the rest of the visit looking online at undergarments.

Why did she refuse to measure me?  Well, she’s in her 60s.  She grew up in a different era.  In her words, “weddings are about beauty, not about comfort.”  I thought they were about two people choosing each other for life, but I guess I was wrong.  Weddings are about me looking “my best,” and “my best” apparently means even skinnier than I already am, with bigger boobs and a completely smooth torso, giving no sign that I have abs, a belly button, or even hip bones.

At the time, I said, fine.  I just need this dang gown altered, and if this is what it takes, so be it.  My parents are paying for half of my wedding, and my mom apparently is fine with paying almost $100 on constricting undergarments.  So if she’s okay with adding this to the cost, okay.

But then we started actually looking for these “undergarments.”  My gown has a lowish back, and it’s been difficult to find anything that will be low enough to go under it.  Plus, no one actually carries these types of bras in stores, so we’ve had to look online.  So this means we have had to guess if a certain bra will be low enough, guess at my bra size because everything is sized differently, order a bra at $70 or more, wait for it to ship, try it on, find out it doesn’t fit, and then send it back and go through the hassle of an online return.

I thought the whole thing was ridiculous before, and now I really do.  I’m not even comfortable in the bras I’ve tried on.  I can’t breathe in them.  I can’t really bend.  How am I supposed to enjoy my wedding if I am tied in to a literal corset, like in the 1800 and 1900s?  And then there’s the fact that I, the bride, think I look perfectly fine in the dress without a longline corset bra.  Sure, it’s thin fabric, and when it’s pulled tight, like it’s supposed to fit, you can see the outline of my belly button and hip bones.  But so what?  That’s what I look like.  I’m a real human being, with real bones and muscles.  Humans look weird and lumpy sometimes.  And then there’s the fact that I’m very skinny.  It’s how I’m built.  It’s not as if I want something to hold in my stomach, because I don’t really have one.  If I did, and if I wanted a bra to suck me in a bit on my wedding day because I knew I would feel self-conscious about myself if I didn’t, then I wouldn’t have a problem with this.  But at this point, it’s as if this woman who we asked to alter my dress is trying to hide the fact that I am an actual human.

I know that’s not what she means.  In fact, she probably hasn’t given this a second thought, because most brides today do wear undergarments like this.  But I don’t think I need it, and I don’t want to wear one.  I stated this, and was overruled by this much louder, much older woman.  What happened to my preferences for my own wedding day?

As my mom and I have already ordered several bras, if one of them fits and works under the dress, I will wear it.  I’m trying to pick my battles, or maybe I’m just being a pushover.  But even if I end up with a corset bra, I have sworn to myself that I’m only wearing it for the alterations and the ceremony.  After that, I will ditch it for a sticky bra, because I want to be comfortable for my reception.  And if none of the bras we have ordered fit, I will repeat these thoughts to the alterations lady, and I will get my dress fitted on just my normal body, and I will wear a sticky bra for the entire ceremony and reception.  Screw longline corset bras.  They’re more like medieval torture devices, and it is 2017, after all.

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Just Admit You Love Your Wife

The other day, I took my car in for an oil change.  It was a bit overdue, and I had a coupon, so I ended up at the local Midas with my fiance.  While we waited for the mechanics to get done with my car, we chatted some with the manager.  He saw that we were a young couple, so he ended up telling us the story of how he met his wife.  It went something like this.

“I’m not from here originally; I’m from up north.  I came down here 30 years ago for a two week bike trip.  But close to the end of the trip I got into a wreck; some woman hit me as I was driving down a mountain.  I ended up in the hospital for awhile.  Right before I was supposed to be released the nurse came to do one last check and I told her, ‘I’m only here for a day or two more.  Wanna go on a date?’ I didn’t think she’d say yes, but she did.  I got back up north, and after a couple weeks I called her and said, ‘I’m thinking of moving down south.’  And she said, ‘Okay.  You can move in with me.’  So I moved in with her and her roommate, and six months later we were married.  We’ve been together 30 years now.  That’s a lot longer than most guys my age.”

At that point my thought was, How cute!

Then he added, “Thirty years…it’s about time for me to get a new one, don’t you think?  Ha ha ha.”

The cuteness vanished.  Instead of thinking how sweet his story was, I felt sorry for his wife.  I don’t know his life, or his relationship, or his wife.  But I would bet that he doesn’t say stuff like that to her.  To me, it sounded like he still loves her.  I mean, he told us their story in detail, and seemed proud that his marriage had lasted longer than many of his friends’, even if it was because it began earlier.

I could be wrong, of course.  It could’ve been that they married when they were very young, and realized they weren’t right for each other, but stayed together anyway.  They could be having issues.  I don’t know.  But that comment really rubbed me the wrong way.

Making that thoughtless comment, in my opinion, devalues the person you’ve committed your life to, for better or worse.  Most marriages, at least in the beginning, are entered into because two people love each other and plan on doing so by combining their lives for, hopefully, the rest of them.  Thirty years ago, the man that did my oil change loved and valued his wife enough to envision a life with her, and to commit to her.  But now he feels okay joking that it’s been 30 years, and for whatever reason — they don’t love each other anymore? he’s restless? she’s too old? — he should “get a new one.”

It’s been said, but I’ll say again — women aren’t like cars that you can just replace when you get tired of them, or when they quit running as well as they used to, or when you decide you like the newer model better.  Marriage is a serious commitment, and whatever your situation is, you’re not going to make it any better by joking about replacing your wife like you would a vehicle.

As I said above, I bet the man doesn’t say stuff like that to his wife, even jokingly.  And I do understand that the comment was meant as a joke.  But why is staying married to your wife for 30 years, which to me is an incredible accomplishment, something he felt like he needed to make an excuse for?  Does staying married to one person, admitting you love her to strangers, make you feel so uncomfortably vulnerable that you have to joke that oh, I don’t love her that much?

know he didn’t mean any of this.  Even my fiance, when I mentioned it later, didn’t think anything of it.  It’s seen as normal, because tons of guys make this joke.  Everyone gets that it’s a joke, so it’s okay.  Right?

I don’t think so.  To me, a woman who will be a wife very soon, it sounded harsh and stinging.  I wouldn’t have wanted to have been his wife, even though she wasn’t around to hear the comment.  I’m tired of jokes like this, about wives being the “ball and chain” and about how 30 years is too long to have one wife, especially given the fact that marriage is more beneficial for men than women.  See this quote from the link:

“Not marrying or cohabiting is less detrimental among woman than men,” said Dr George Ploubidis, a population health scientist at the UCL Institute of Education.

“Being married appears to be more beneficial for men.”

I’m ready for us as a society to quit devaluing women as wives.  Not spouting off comments like the one he made would be a great place to start.

The Maiden Name Dilemma

This has been on my mind since before I even got engaged.  To change my name, or not to change my name?  That is the question.

Lately, the more I think about it, the more I lean toward no.  I’m pretty traditional, but this is one thing that doesn’t sit quite right with me.  At risk of sounding feminazi (the horror!), I feel like it’s an antiquated practice that I could do without.  In the “olden days,” women changed their names to signify that they were now under the care of their husband rather than their father.  It was a sign of commitment, yes, but also a transactional symbol.

Obviously, that’s not really how name-changing is seen these days.  Most women change their names as an added symbol of commitment and as a public symbol of the switch from single-ness to marriage.  And if that’s what you want to do, that’s all fine and good.

To me, though, there are enough symbols without me also having to change my name. Our commitment to each other will be displayed through our marriage certificate, our rings, and our wedding.  Everyone important to us will see us get married.  We will both make the mental, emotional, and financial commitment (which really has already been made).  And after the ceremony is over, we will both wear rings on our left hand that say to everyone who sees them, I am a married person.  To me, that’s plenty.

Marriage, in its proper form, is a legal, emotional, and financial commitment between two individuals.  I am already a whole individual, and so is he.  Therefore, I think that the legal documentation, the rings, and the ceremony are sufficient public symbols.

There are obviously some cons to not taking his name.  The first and most obvious is that he is a traditional person as well, and I know he’d like for me to take his name.  That, honestly, is my biggest hangup.  It’s a little difficult to balance my own wishes with his, but that’s what marriage is.  Two individuals essentially becoming one unit comes with a ton of issues like this, as I know most are well aware.  Probably (definitely) more aware than I am.  We will have to discuss this and come to an understanding.

The other big issue is potential children.  I don’t particularly want any children, ever, but in case we do have children, whose name would they take?  I would be fine with them taking his — again, I’m fairly traditional, and I got my last name from my father, so I have no problem with them having his.  But that would be something that would have to be discussed.

I haven’t completely decided what I’m going to do yet, and I have some time before I really have to make that decision.  But it’s definitely something to think about.

I know many people have strong feelings on this; feel free to tell me what you think and/or share your own experience!

 

On Kids, and Why I Don’t Want Them

I haven’t wanted kids for a long time.

Obviously, I’m only 21.  I’m still in school.  I’m in a relationship, but not engaged.  I’m not at a place right now where I could feasibly have kids, even if I wanted them.  I know lots of people my age with kids, and it works for them.  But for me, now is not the time.  And there may well never be a time.

I used to like kids, back when I was 8, 10, 13 years old.  I liked playing with babies (though I have never thought they smelled good).  I thought toddlers were the cutest.  I babysat for a few families.  But as I got older my desire to have my own disappeared.

This is common knowledge.  People, when they find out I don’t want them, laugh and say I’ll change my mind.  I’m too young to know, apparently.  Right now the common question is, “When will you get married?”  But after that, it’ll be, “When are the babies coming?”

There are a lot of reasons I don’t want kids.  I’m in college, surrounded by people who want to achieve.  I want to achieve, too.  I’d like to own my own business, or run a marketing department, or be a real estate agent.  I want a career, and kids would complicate that.

Second, I read this article a few months ago that had a theory about people who don’t find babies cute.  The (paraphrased) theory was that disgust may override the parental care response when a baby is seen.  When most people see a baby, they see a helpless, cute creature that can’t survive on its own, and they want to take care of it.  Other people see a helpless creature that’s kind of gross and annoying because it can’t take care of itself.  These same people find baby animals cute, because baby animals are much more self-sustaining.  I feel like the article was written about me.

I just don’t like children.  I’m not good at interacting with them.  I’m very small, so children tend to see me more as another kid than an authority figure, and that just makes it worse.  To be brutally honest, I find kids annoying and expensive.  Kids tend to replace dreams.

That’s not to say I look down on people who have kids.  While I don’t understand it, I know that kids are the dream for a lot of people.  I have several friends who have wanted to be stay-at-home moms since they were children, and that’s great.  It really is.  It takes a lot to raise a child.  I appreciate people who do it.  I just don’t want to.

I’ve talked to my boyfriend about this.  He’s known that I don’t really want kids.  And he doesn’t want them either, right now.  But I know people change their minds.

I asked him, the other day, whether he thought he might want children in the future.  He thought about it for a little while, and said maybe.  A little us running around would be really cute.  And they would be around to take care of us when we get old.

I said I thought he probably would.  I felt like crying.

He asked me, Does that bother you?

I wanted to say no.  Instead I asked him, What if you do?  Kids are a deal breaker for a lot of people.

He sat up and told me this.  If I change my mind, and want kids, that’s fine.  But if not, he’s not going anywhere.  Because we, the two people here right now, are what matter, not hypothetical future children.  We, the two people here right now, are best friends, and want to spend our lives together, and whether or not that involves kids, it will still be the life we both want.  He’ll still be happy, even if it’s just us two front porch sittin’ when all our hairs are gray.

 

On Makeup

One of the bloggers I recently began following, Beauty on a Budget, shared this post about her makeup story.  I’ve always thought about doing one like that, so here we are!

I had just started my freshman year of high school when I first started wearing makeup.  I had never really thought about it before then, but I started to notice other girls wearing makeup around the time my acne started to get bad.  I had bad self-confidence throughout middle school and high school, and felt that a covering of foundation might help me feel prettier.

I was afraid my parents wouldn’t want to let me wear it.  I hadn’t been allowed to get my ears pierced until I was 13, even though I had been asking since I was 8.  Plus, my mom had discouraged me from shaving my legs in middle school, wanting me to hold onto childhood as long as possible.  Clothes were also a battle — what I thought was cute was often deemed too immodest.  Now, I realize that they were simply trying to keep me innocent, and focused more on education and skills than appearance.  But back then it sometimes just felt like they were trying to ruin my life and keep me as frumpy as possible.

That’s why I was completely shocked when my mom responded well to my makeup request.  I knew she got her makeup from a Mary Kay lady from our church, and I knew nothing about makeup, so I resolved to ask my mom if she could give me a makeover.  I brought it up one morning as she was driving my siblings and I to co-op.  I had braced myself for a persuasive conversation at best, but she immediately came back with a peppy, “Okay.”

So a couple weeks later I got my Mary Kay makeover.  My mom and sister went with me, and the woman did a good job of keeping it minimal but grown-up.  I really enjoyed having my makeup done for the first time ever, and I ended up with some basics — mineral foundation, eye shadow, mascara, and lip gloss.  The woman coached me through the application of all of it, and when I got home I took several selfies, enjoying how grown-up and polished I looked.

I wore that same look every day for a long time.  It took me awhile to learn that blending is important, but other than that, it was an easy look for me.  It worked.  I added a few more eye shadow colors to my collection and used an eyeliner pencil on occasion.  I switched from powder foundation to a liquid — my flute has a solid silver head, and the silver would react with the minerals in my makeup, giving me a black line under my bottom lip after every lesson, practice session, and band rehearsal.  What didn’t change was that I wore makeup every time I left the house.  Going without makeup made me feel exposed.

Once I got to college, though, it was impossible to wear it all the time.  I lived in the dorms, so I was hanging out with people at all hours, especially after I had taken off my makeup at night.  The first semester of college was amazing for me, mostly because I finally found out what it meant to have real friends that I got to see every day, through the good and the bad.  But also because I realized that my friends treated me the same whether or not I was wearing makeup, and that was huge.  I became much more comfortable with myself because of that.

Also, on the day I met the man I’m now dating, I thought I looked like crap.  I had on a ratty t-shirt and yoga pants, and more importantly, no makeup.  I was hanging out with some friends in the study room in my dorm, and was sent downstairs to let in a guy who was going to join us.  That night, four of us stayed up till 3 am goofing off and going to Waffle House and watching movies, and that was when my now-boyfriend decided he liked me, even though I looked like crap.  That did wonders for my self-esteem.

Since then, I’ve become much more lax about makeup.  I still wear it most days, because I feel more confident with it on.  But if I run out of time in the morning (or just forget), I don’t worry about it anymore.  I don’t bother to pack foundation and apply it in the bathroom, because it doesn’t matter.  Makeup won’t ever hide the fact that my skin is not perfect, and that’s not really what people care about, anyway.

Now, I have a mild interest in learning how to apply it better.  One of my friends is great at makeup, and I’ve considered asking her to show me some things, like how to really use my makeup brushes.  But learning how to do makeup is expensive and time consuming.  Also, I am a bit afraid that if I learn to do makeup well, I’ll fall back into the high school mentality of hating my face without it.  So I’m not sure if it’s worth it.  As much as I’d love looking like a makeup model, it’s entwined in a lot of self-love issues for me.  But that’s definitely something I’m working on overcoming, so who knows what my makeup future holds!

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Everyday look – minimal and subtle

Why It’s Not a Bad Thing if You’ve Never Been Kissed

Last night, I went out for coffee with one of my best friends.  We went intending to sit and read at the coffee shop, but (inevitably) ended up chatting about life.  Somehow, we got to talking about relationships, and my friend told me about a conversation she’d overheard where two girls were talking about how sad it is, at our age, to have never been kissed.

I think a lot of people our age feel that way.  Not having been kissed can make us feel left out and undesirable.  Especially as we get older, it becomes a point of insecurity, and many people hide the fact so they won’t be stereotyped as inexperienced or prudish.  We think potential partners don’t want the “responsibility” of being someone’s first, or that we’ll be bad at it when we finally do kiss someone, or that our friends will secretly judge or pity us (which is exactly what those girls were doing, if obliviously).

There Are Other Things in Life Besides Kissing

I definitely understand all those concerns, because I’ve been there.  But I also don’t think that not having been kissed should be something to be sad or insecure about at all.  Kissing and physical intimacy are great, but there are also a whole lot of other great things in this world that we can get excited about.  Putting a lot of emphasis on a person’s kissed-status implies that their sexuality and sexual experience are more important than their thoughts, opinions, hobbies, skills, talents, interests, and the myriad of other things that make people awesome, and that’s just wrong.

When I meet someone new, I couldn’t care less whether they’ve been kissed or not.  I’d rather learn what they’re interested in, what they’re good at, and what they want to do in the future.  Teachers care about whether you’ll be a good learner.  Employers care about what you can bring to their company.  Even potential partners should care more about whether you two will get along than your sexual experience or lack thereof.  (Obviously, in a serious relationship sexual pasts are something that should be discussed, and sex and kissing are very different.  But I’m talking about kissing, and whether you have or haven’t been kissed shouldn’t be an initial deal breaker (if it is, get away from that shallow human!).)

Not Having Been Kissed Can Be By Choice

Although it may seem a foreign concept to some, sometimes people have had opportunities to have their first kiss and have (gasp!) passed them up.  A lot of times, this is for religious reasons — I know several people who want to save their first kiss for their wedding day.  Some people know that kissing and physical intimacy will distract them from their goals, so they avoid it altogether.  Some people don’t want to date for whatever reason, so they don’t kiss anyone, either.  Some people wait for a partner they know will be lifelong.  Not ever having been kissed isn’t always because you can’t get a date.

Never Having Been Kissed Doesn’t Equal Inexperience

So, we’ve established the fact that kissed-status has nothing to do with a person or how awesome they are.  That said, not having been kissed doesn’t necessarily equal sexual inexperience or naivety.  We live in the age of the Internet, and that means people have access to porn (which, to be clear, I’m neither condoning nor condemning at this moment).  While porn may not be (and probably isn’t) the best teacher for sex stuff, the availability of it means that many people are exposed to sex and physical intimacy long before they ever touch anyone sexually.  (We can discuss the consequences of that later.)  And even if porn isn’t accessible, our media and our culture are so overrun with sex-related topics that it’s really not hard to figure out what’s going on.

Also, people are natural explorers.  Just because someone has never been kissed doesn’t mean that they don’t know what pleases them or turns them on, and it doesn’t mean that they don’t have ideas for what they might like to try with a partner in the future.  And it definitely doesn’t mean that they don’t or can’t have a good sex life all on their own.

Unfortunately, too, some real assholes exist in our world, so not having been kissed romantically doesn’t mean that someone has never been touched sexually.  It may just mean that that person had a terrible experience before they ever got to experience a romantic kiss, and perhaps now they just want to be not be touched like that ever again.  You just don’t ever know someone’s background or what they may have gone through.

Not Having Been Kissed is Not Sad

Kissing is an important and awesome part of life.  Physical intimacy is one of the things that makes us human, and we know that humans need love and physical contact in order to develop properly and feel connected and happy.  But people can live and thrive without kisses.  What we can’t live without is love from friends and family.  It’s sad that there are babies who grow up in overcrowded orphanages and never get held, ever.  That is a tragedy.  What’s not a tragedy is someone who hasn’t been kissed.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

TL;DR:

  1. Just because someone hasn’t been kissed doesn’t mean it’s because they’re undesirable.
  2. Why are we still putting so much importance on what a person has or hasn’t done sexually?  There are so many more things that make people people, and that’s what we should focus on.

My Rambling 3 Cents About Body Positivity

So, here’s the deal.  I consider myself a feminist in that I believe women should be treated equally to men, and I strongly believe in body positivity for all people, male and female, and all body types.  I think I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I, like every other woman, have issues with my own body.  There are a few things I don’t like about my body, like my skin, which is prone to acne and dry spots and weird gross fungus sometimes (even though I’m a super clean person.  How does this happen???).  I also feel like my shoulders are too wide, and I wish my hair was less frizzy, and I sometimes wish my boobs were a bit larger (although that not nearly as much as I did when I was in middle school.  Thank goodness).

However, this is not a post about what I don’t like about myself.  What I do like is that I’m pretty muscular, as in if I actually went to the gym on a regular basis I could be ripped.  I’m a pretty small person, and I also really like that for the most part (it does tend to get annoying when people think it’s okay to comment on my size because I am small.  Update: it’s not.  Just don’t comment on people’s size ever.  It’s kind of rude).  Also, the vast majority of the time, I love my small boobs because I can get away without a bra and with wearing low cut tops that would be too revealing if I were bigger.  There are perks to everything.  (Except maybe stupid skin.  I really hate that.)

Anyway.  I really started writing this post to say that I’m super thin, and I get quite a lot of comments on that.  When I worked at a bank as a floating teller, it never failed that at every new branch I went to, one of my coworkers would comment on my size.  It happened every single time.  I even get comments from random strangers, usually women.  It’s to the point that I know now that even though I’m not the prettiest person you will ever meet, my body can be the object of envy just because I am small and thin.

I have two main points here.  One is this.  I take nudes sometimes, just for myself, because I like feeling good about my body.  The last time I did, I got the idea to take a version of these photos below.  (I took these particular ones especially for this post.)  In these photos, I’m sitting like I normally do in class or at my desk.  (Obviously I don’t have great posture.)  And even though I’m thin enough that a lot of people notice, I still have stomach rolls.  See that?  I pretty much live with red lines on my stomach from where it folds over when I sit down.  It’s just a fact of life.

My other main point, that I tried to make rambingly a few paragraphs ago, is that even the people you see whose bodies you envy have things they don’t like about themselves and wish they could change.  I see people every single day that I wish I looked like, both online and in person.  I envy something about every single one of my friends.  So this is just a general reminder, because I know we’ve all heard this before — the Internet is full of body positivity messages for women, which is awesome.  This is just my reiteration.

My final three cents:

  1. First, you are beautiful.
  2. Second, everything you dislike on yourself, someone else has probably envied.  Everything you have envied about someone else, they have probably disliked.
  3. Third, your personality, your brains, your skills, and your passions are what really define you.  Not your body, ever.

A Study in PMS

Every single emotion is heightened.  Anger is actually furiousness.  Envy is actually burning jealousy.  Irritation is blood-pressure-heightening annoyance.  Little things get on your nerves.  Everything sounds good to eat and also nothing does.  You feel fat.  You feel too skinny.

The rational part of your mind whispers to you.  It’s okay that all those people are getting engaged and you’re not; it’s their time.  You and he have talked about this a lot and you know the best time frame for you.  Waiting isn’t the end of the world.  Also, you really like your body.  Yes, it’s incredibly difficult to find a good bra in your size, but think of all the other advantages of being small.  And as for the ridiculousness of the GOP debate only being available to cable-subscribers, you are absolutely right to be angry about that.  Absolutely do research and complain all you can.  Make your voice heard, and then at the end of the night let it go so that you can sleep.

That part infuriates you just because it’s right.  I have the right to feel my feelings! you scream.  I have the right to cry for no reason and crave cheddar cheese!  I even have the right to be snarky to my boyfriend just because I can!  He just doesn’t understand!

And then you actually are snarky to him and he handles it really well and then you feel like a horrible, selfish, and horribly selfish human being.  And even though periods really are a monster all their own, you kind of can’t wait for it to start because this ridiculousness needs to just end.