My Dearest Girl...
You ask a lot of questions. Never stop.
Last night you asked me about my wedding dress. My hesitation to discuss it wasn’t the whole story. Designing my dress was easy. I wanted box pleats and a long train. The seamstress took jobs like this so she could make ends meet. She wanted to be home with her little children as much as possible. The fitting room, a.k.a. her basement smelled like goldfish crackers and play-doh. One time her kid threw up on the stairs while we were doing a fitting. I didn’t mind too much. I was on a budget and the price was right.
On our fourth fitting, she asked me to bring the shoes I would wear on my big day and smiled when I showed up in Chucks. I also brought along a corset, one I had ordered that promised a tiny waist. I thought tiny waists were feminine and preferable. I believed a lot of false things back then.
When I pulled the corset on and stepped into the wedding dress, my seamstress simply said “No.”
“What do you mean?” I replied.
“No.” she repeated. “It’s too late in the design process to accommodate that. Also, it looks terrible.”
Even at that young age, I appreciated her frankness.
Sitting back on her haunches, she gazed up at me holding more pins then teeth in her mouth. “Women have forced themselves into corsets for hundreds of years. We’ve finally broken free of that tradition. Why would you voluntarily choose one now?”
That question gave me a sleepless night. We may have ditched the corsets of yesteryear with their whale bones and promises of a 22” waist. After that fitting though, I realized that I had toxic beliefs about what a woman was supposed to be. Those thoughts felt heavy with mud. The ”Corsets of Society” had the nerve to tell me what kind of bride I was supposed to be and I was stupid enough to believe them and pay $100 to have a corset shipped from Canada.
The “Corsets of Society” have bound women up with beliefs, traditions, cultures, and the thoughts of what they are long after corsets stopped being a thing. That night I felt so small, young and dumb, which is exactly what society wanted me to feel. A woman who feels small lives small. Women who bravely and humbly seek after HER own truth literally cannot be stopped. Not by her circumstances and certainly not by the opinions of others.
I usually think about that seamstress and her question when I smell goldfish crackers, which as you know is pretty often.
A few months ago, I asked my friend to tighten my weighted vest before the workout. A weighted vest is like a modern version of that ancient mistake called the corset. The first time I’d seen a female athlete wear a vest though, I reverently whispered “I want one”.
Dad gave me a camouflage tactical vest for our 18 year anniversary. He gets me.
I named her “Diana”.
This corset I chose. It made me feel strong, protecting me from everyone else’s opinions and asking nothing more than my all. “Diana” is a physical manifestation of one of my truths...I chase things that make me stronger.
Our dearest girlfriends finish zipping up the last bit of dress we can’t reach. Our best, forever comrades strap us into a 14# tactical vest, look at us like the crazy people we are but tell us “you got this” anyway. It’s next level love. Tonya cinched that baby up in a way that would've made Scarlett O’hare proud. She fastened me in like I was headed into the atmosphere.
The garage door at the gym was opened, allowing the wet morning dew to creep inside making us forget for a moment that we showed up for any other reason than just breathing that air. The ropes were lowered. “3-2-1 GO” shouted our coach and we were off.
The closeness of “Diana” made me feel secure. The camo fabric made me feel hidden. The weight felt unnecessary and accurate. It was my first workout with “Diana”. It was also the first workout that I almost quit before finishing.
Almost quit...but didn’t. I fell in a heap on the floor after and cried. But I finished.
My hesitation in telling you about my wedding dress isn’t because I didn’t love it. It’s because I almost allowed society to tell me what a woman was and that scared me.
I want you to figure this out faster than I did.
Make sure everything you fasten to your beautiful self is a belief of your own choosing. Make sure it is a truth and that it’s yours. All truth is worth holding onto. Never let society or others mold you, not even if they promise the un-promiseable, like a 22” waist.
When you think of me, I don’t want you to picture a perfect wedding day and a perfect dress. I want you to picture me sweaty, dirty in a vest with my name on it climbing a stupid high rope.
That’s the woman I want you to see.
All my love,
Tonya picking me up off the ground after "Diana's" initiation workout. Surround yourself with women who are tough and tender like her and you'll be just fine.
"But did you die?" :)