Body Politics

Getting married turned Stone Fox Bride Abby Spector into a neurotic, body dysmorphic wreck. Here’s how she survived the process with her sanity intact.

 

I don't usually consider myself to be pretty. I think I’m funny and loving and loud and imaginative. I think I’m good with strangers and kids and animals. I’m a kickass Scrabble player, advice-giver, and microwave aficionado. I feel so incredibly lucky that this life—this thing I get to do everyday—is my life, and my chest pounds and I laugh because it’s so surreal.


Most days this is enough. I don’t need to feel pretty. I have everything else, plus a loving husband, a supportive family, and a cat. But my wedding wasn’t most days. I wasn’t just supposed to look pretty—I was supposed to feel pretty. The pressure made my head explode.


It all started with Pinterest. A year before my wedding, I set up a board and began pinning completely unrealistic shit. I was outside my comfort zone and each pin made me anxious and angry. I was mad that my frizzy hair would never frame my face in perfect waves and that gravity wouldn’t allow my boobs to survive in a backless dress. This uncomfortable, jealous, hypercritical voice hadn’t spoken this loudly since high school. But suddenly my new Pinterest obsession blasted opened the body-dysmorphia floodgates and now I was drowning in mason jars and eye makeup.


So I stopped pinning and began shopping. My mom came to the city and I tried on forty dresses in one day. I was clipped and cinched into chiffon. I stood on pedestals in five inch heels and got frustrated by the smoke and mirrors of the whole charade. I don’t always have a tiny old lady who smells like menthols following me around and telling me how to pose and I was like: why is she here? Does she come with the dress?

I knew I had found my dress when I put it on. I didn’t cry and it wasn’t life changing, but I felt comfortable. It was the Honor For Stone Fox Bride Ihlen dress and it was just what I needed — a low-pressure shopping experience inside a pink, dream-catcher lined, womb of a showroom in Soho.


But I kept obsessing about the things I thought I was supposed to do. Brides should do pilates and wash their face every night and think about their underwear. This “to-do” list wasn’t just in my head — a diet and skincare routine and lingerie was on the “this week you should do x/y/z” checklist I got emailed by a wedding website (emails that my fiancé eventually made me unsubscribe from for my mental health). I recognize that a lot of people benefit from these to-do lists. However, for me, they felt like reminders about how I was failing to be a good bride. A more useful idea? Send out emails about combining finances, creating a new phone plan, or writing a will.

The hardest part was the pressure to have the “perfect” body. After years of struggling with anorexia, I had finally reached a place where I tolerated my body. I could see it as a helpful vessel that held my organs and allowed me to do cool stuff. Thing is, the voice in my head told me that weddings aren’t about tolerating your perceived flaws — they are about flawlessness and grace. I realize this sounds absurd. I am an able-bodied, healthy-sized, cisgendered woman. But body dysmorphia is an absurd, take-no-prisoners asshole that doesn’t listen to numbers or reality or reason.


The pressure intensified in the weeks, days, and hours leading up to my wedding. And then it happened. The wedding came and went.


The movie version of this story would have a tidy, didactic denouement about how I felt pretty on my wedding day and learned once and for all to feel comfortable in my own skin. But appearances aren’t what comes to mind when I think about myself on July 30th, 2016. I walked down the aisle, looked at my husband, and smiled so much my face hurt. I felt loved and alive and excited. At the moment, pretty didn’t feel important.


The truth is, it’s just one day. One bizarre, beautiful day. You will have more days and more photos and more dresses and more adventures. So feel however the fuck you want.

 

By Stone Fox Bride's Abby Spector

Pics by Oliver Scott Snure