The snarky comment that I have now received way more times than I would’ve liked is, “Oh, so you’re not wearing a dress on your wedding day?” This is usually followed by awkward silence as I figure out how to respond.
This surprise or confusion on the part of most people I talk about my wedding with is the fault of the gendered categories that we are all forced into while growing up. They create this judgement on me and, more importantly, drive this idealistic vision of what a bride should look like. White dress, diamond earrings, and all.
As a proud woman and member of the LGBTQ+ community, I have been forced to make a decision between “men’s” and “women’s” clothing for as long as I can remember. And as I approach the most important day of my life, I am simply tired of it.
I remember the gut-wrenching anxiety of walking into a retail store with my friends when I was just a teenager and was still learning about how I wanted to express myself. The problem is that retail stores are designed to force a decision upon entry. With lace rompers and pink pastels on one side and plaid button-downs and truck clad T-shirts on the other, it’s as if there is an invisible line down the middle of the floor. This disjunction of what’s on either side makes for a very difficult decision the first time every young girl is allowed to go to the mall without her parents. You have to turn right or left — there is no in between.
The way I see it, clothing needs no explanation or label attached to it. A girl with a baseball cap on backwards isn’t any more boyish or “butch” than the girl in high heels across the room. So why are we looked at so differently?
It’s difficult to put into words what these gendered categories do to people like me. In many ways, they alienate us. If I stand next to my future wife who just so happens to adhere to all the conventional definitions of femininity, the awkward glance I get by people after just complimenting her is humiliating. Their minds are programmed to compliment the girl with a flowy blouse and a matching purse. They have no idea how to react to a woman in jeans and a baggy hockey jersey. As if there needs to be an equivalent to the word “beautiful” because what they’re seeing just isn’t it.
I’m 24 years old, and I’m finally somewhat comfortable in my own skin and in the clothes that I choose to put on my back. But to this day, the word ‘beautiful” doesn’t escape the mouths of people looking at me. And you know what? That’s OK. If there’s one thing to take from all of the dress comments about my wedding day, it’s that “beautiful” is just a word, and words are given meaning by the people who speak them. I’m going to speak them to myself, because that’s the only meaning that matters.
So, no, I will not be wearing a dress on my wedding day. I’ll be sporting some form of a tux, and although I will try my best not to care how everyone looks at me, I hope they will think I’m as beautiful as I’m going to feel.
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