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.


My Favorite Beauty Bloggers

I have never gotten more views on a post than I have on this one.  Since I wrote it about a month ago, it’s been the most read post on my blog ever.  It seems that a lot of people want to read about makeup.

I get why that is.  Makeup is fun, and dynamic, and pretty.  It’s a form of art that is easily accessible, and it’s one that most everyone appreciates.  Combined with selfie culture, makeup is a magic wand.  It lets us transform ourselves.

I’ve gained a lot of new followers from this one post, and I appreciate that so much!  It always gives me a little boost of happy when I see that someone new has followed me.  So thank you for that!

But makeup is not what I write about.  I write about goals, books, and my other niche interests.  While I may begin to dabble more in makeup once I have a little more disposable income, I don’t think it will ever feature prominently on my  blog.  However, I still have that appreciation for makeup, and I want to appeal to you all, not just myself.  So today, here are four of the best makeup and beauty blogs that I follow.  They all tend to feature drugstore products, simpler looks, and a laid-back lifestyle.  Have fun exploring!

Keira Lennox — She is also great to follow on Insta, since she runs a flower shop and never lacks for beautiful bouquets!

Beauty on a Budget — I’ve branched out a little in lip colors because of her, and she has a knack for finding quality, affordable products.

Samaries — I just started following this blogger, who posts tutorials specifically for glasses wearers, which I really appreciate since I’ve never seen that before.

Ordinary Adventures — While this blogger doesn’t post a lot anymore, her archived product reviews are very informative.

Disclaimer:  I’m not getting anything from any of these bloggers for linking to their blogs.  I simply want to share the love!

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!

Everyday look – minimal and subtle

Self Confidence: 30%

Yesterday, I went to the mall.  I went because my whole family has been out of town for a week and I was bored, and because my birthday is coming up and I had a gift card to Victoria’s Secret.  I was pretty excited about the trip, since I’ve been wanting to invest in some quality bralettes.  Recently, I’ve become a bit disenchanted with VS, preferring Aerie’s “The Real You” campaign to VS’s traditionally sexy appeal.  But I put that to the back of my mind, because there are still some products I wanted to check out — and I had a gift card, after all.

Looking around in the store, though, was not a great experience.  Being an introvert, I usually like to shop in big department stores where I can hide between the racks and not have to talk to salespeople.  If I have to go into a specialty shop, I like to bring a friend so I don’t have to stare at merchandise in silence.  Friends provide a sounding board and a social cushion — not to mention their wonderful company (I love you all, if any of you are reading this).  But I decided to go by myself anyway, because I’m a grown woman.

I was expecting the mall to be a little vacant, since it was Monday during the day, but it wasn’t.  VS was especially crowded.  Everywhere I looked there were girls my age and women with their boyfriends and salespeople asking if I needed help.  I felt awkward being there by myself, and even more awkward because I know I look young.  I looked especially young yesterday, since my hair was up and my face is not being kind to me right now.  I’m pretty much broken out everywhere.  To make matters worse, most of the women in the shop were tall and stylish and beautifully made up — they all looked, at least to me, like they were about to maybe run to the back for a quick lingerie photo shoot to be put on the VS website.  I felt small and silly and decidedly not sexy.

I forced myself to wander around and look at everything in the shop.  For starters, there weren’t nearly as many bralettes as I had hoped — I guess most of those are sold online only.  VS is notorious for push-up bras, and that is not what I want at all, so I really didn’t see anything that I liked.  And even if I had, I’m not really a standard size — I would’ve had to ask someone to help me, and then I would’ve felt obligated to spend.  I’ve never tried anything on in VS before, so I didn’t know if I was supposed to grab a hanger or a bra from the drawer below or what — it was completely overwhelming.  I ended up rambling around in the underwear tables even though I have too much underwear as it is — that was the only merchandise I felt comfortable looking at.

I left pretty quickly.  I don’t even think I spent a full 10 minutes in there, though it felt like forever.  After walking out I decided I didn’t want to waste the twenty minute drive, so I decided to go to Aerie.  I didn’t have a gift card, but I had noticed on the way to VS that they had a sale going on.

It was super crowded as well, and seemed more so because the shop is smaller.  But the shoppers in there were younger, and Aerie has tons of bralettes, and I felt much more comfortable.  I grabbed several styles to try on and headed to the back.

The fitting rooms were crowded, as I expected.  I had to wait a few minutes for one to open up.  At Aerie, as I’m sure is the norm, they write your name and number of items on the door of your room, both to prevent theft and to provide a personal feel.  Then they check on you every few minutes to both see if you’re still there and to see if you have any questions or need help.  It’s all a very nice process.

I didn’t really appreciate it, though.  The small fitting area allowed me to hear every little thing that was going on — every customer that came in, every suggestion the employees made to buyers.  I felt rushed.  Again, I prefer department stores because fitting rooms are usually large and deserted, and you can try on clothes in peace.  Maybe I’m weird, but I like to make final decisions in the fitting room.  If something fits, I can look at the price tag and calculate discounts in privacy, and maybe even text my boyfriend or sister a picture to see what they think.  I like clothes, and I like shopping, but I’m on a restricted budget, so it sometimes takes time for me to decide whether or not I actually need to purchase something.  Mostly I just like my shopping experience to be as private and undisturbed as possible, and Aerie was not making that happen for me.

I liked a lot of what I tried on, but I ended up leaving all of it and walking out of the mall in a bit of a bad mood.  I didn’t feel pretty or confident; I felt sub-par and flustered.  I was upset at VS for not making me feel comfortable or welcome, and I was upset at myself for going into Aerie when I knew I didn’t really have the money to buy anything anyway.  And then I was mad that I had wasted the gas to drive there and back.  The only high point of the trip was that it killed a couple hours and I had been really, really bored.

The whole ordeal made me feel like I was back in middle school, hating my skin and hair and body.  I think sometimes I use my introvert tendencies to cover up what I’m really anxious about — that I’m not good enough or pretty enough or worthy enough to do or buy or say X thing.  I say I don’t like people or that I don’t want something to cover up the fact that I’m afraid I’ll be rejected.

Usually, I can overcome those feelings.  I tell myself that everyone feels the same way, and that of course I’m good enough.  I tell myself that everyone deserves the same chances.  Usually, if I stop thinking so much and just do the thing, it turns out fine.  Usually, I do believe that I’m good enough, even when I make a mistake.  Yesterday just wasn’t one of those days.  I guess it just has to happen every once in awhile.  Next time I won’t let myself be intimidated.  But today, I think I’ll shop online.

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.