Friday, December 2, 2011

A "yes" to the dress is a yes to what?

A friend sent me this blog post, "How Wedding Dresses Transform Women." It's not from a Catholic blog, nor is it from an authentic femininity-minded magazine. It's from the often-inappropriate Huffington Post.

So, it's a bit of a surprise to read such a beautiful depiction of one woman's experience with brides-to-be. She begins with women who are merely going through the motions, who would like to just wear a white pant suit, slip on the ring, ready to return to business executive life as usual.

But the author has noticed something fascinating:
I am always amazed by these women! I usually respond that I have no pantsuits available, and that they should try a narrow and simple dress. I am not sure how this happens but when a woman tries on my dresses, she is immediately transfigured. It may be due to the whiteness of the fabric, or the definition of her body through the silhouette of the dress, and the natural flow of the expensive silk brushing against her legs as she moves. She tries her first dress on and is shocked by her own beauty. She begins to trust me. I suggest the same shape in lace, and she marvels at how skinny she looks and wonders at the many years she has professionally hidden herself in cashmere and heavy black tights. Bit by bit we inch our way into curiously trying on larger dresses and in one courageous statement she squeaks, "Can we try a veil?" The moment a veil is placed on her head she begins to cry, and then to sob.

It is the abandoned dream and vision of herself that was once forgotten somewhere between the divorce of her parents, high school exams, and her first broken heart. It is the internal struggle of regrets versus survival and that suddenly in the mirror a vision of herself looking like she is in love, and looking like she is vulnerable, and even giddy with joy makes her uncomfortable. It is a woman that she does not know. It is the woman she used to be, even as a little girl.

As a child, she would dream of being in love. Images from Disney movies, ballet, music, and TV convinced her some gallant man would profess his indisputable love for her and then confirm his aching desire to spend eternity with her in a perfect wedding.

I think that these thoughts are quite typical of young girls. They dream of being coveted, and they dream of being a princess. As little girls become teens and young women, often their princess fantasies are stamped out and substituted by professional protocol, and corporate culture. They have to fight for themselves to get ahead and protect themselves. They are taught not to rely on others, especially men. Reality and dashed expectations have given them a somewhat hard edge.

It's amazing to listen to the experience of designer Justina McCaffery in her wedding dress consultations. Is there any other piece of clothing that can evoke such a powerful surge of memories, dreams, hopes and ideals? Read the rest of the story here.

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