You know that moment in the movie where the nerd girl takes off her glasses and pulls down her ponytail and steps into a fitted, sparkly dress? She is transformed. She timidly makes her way down the stairs, and the guy at the bottom stares up, open-mouthed, seeing her as though for the very first time. Who is this sudden goddess? It is probably Aphrodite.
That has never happened to me.
Not even close.
Actually, when I was trying on wedding gowns at Macy’s, I was a little surprised at the extent to which that didn’t happen. The saleswoman was pretty sure it would.
“If you need to cry, just do it,” she said. “It’s overwhelming, seeing yourself like this for the first time.”
I blinked hard. I looked at myself in the mirror. I leaned forward, gazing deeply, cushioned by billows of shimmering white gown. It was true. One of my eyebrows really was a little higher up than the other. Weird. And my face looked saggy. Saggy? Seriously? I was twenty-four! How was this possible? The face did not match the gown. I looked stupid.
“It’s OK,” said the saleswoman. “I know it can be very emotional.”
“Can you get me out of this dress, please?” I said.
I do not clean up good. Well. I do not clean up well. I do not transition smoothly into a fairy princess. Instead, in fancy clothes, I look a little confused– like my hair didn’t get the memo. Like my face wasn’t made for elegant parties. Like I should work on my posture. In other words, I look like myself– but wearing something nicer.
It’s disappointing. Some women (including many of my friends) are full of womanly mystery. In their street clothes, they are lovely, but their loveliness hints at some greater potential. They might spring into full stunning gorgeousness at any moment, given the right shoulder-baring dress, eye makeup, and hair stylist. Not me. What you see is definitely what you get. And what you get looks like it should be wearing overalls with paint splatters on them.
For a long time, I hoped that something magical would happen when I dressed up. I hoped that I’d transform. I’d watched too many movies. I’d had too many friends with excellent collarbones and sculpted shoulders that were practically begging to be bared. I thought that the ability to undergo a metamorphosis from normal to stunning with a few simple props was an integral part of being a successful woman.
Now I’m not sure it is.
When I went to that penthouse party recently, I looked pretty good. I did not look transformed. I looked like me wearing a cool dress and heels. Getting dressed for the party, I leafed through the clothing hanging in my closet. Nothing great, as usual. I went through everything again, hoping something fabulous would appear. Nope. And then I put on a dress and heels, looked in the mirror, thought, “Yup. That’s fine” and left.
Because I don’t expect myself to turn into someone else anymore. Or at least, I expect it less.
I’m still jealous, I’m not gonna lie. I think it’d be more fun to be one of those magical women who can sometimes resemble goddesses. But I’m also OK with looking good with paint stains all over me. After all, I like to paint. Even more than I like going to fancy parties.
A lot more.
A really, really lot more.
When I saw myself for the first time in the gown I ended up buying for my wedding, I thought, “That’s definitely better than the last one.” And then I thought, “I look pretty good.”
“She’s going to cry!” said the saleswoman.
But I didn’t.
* * *
Unroast: Today I love the shape of my chin.
Here’s the latest cake shot, and it comes with this fantastic and wedding-related commentary: I was the maid of honor in my sister’s wedding, and when it came to the part where the bride and groom are supposed to feed each other cake, instead they turned around and shoved the cake in my (and the best man’s) face. I gasped in surprise and managed to get an entire cupcake shoved in my mouth, and someone watching was able to capture the perfect shot.
As always, send me your cake shots!!