My dress doesn't define me: How a tomboy learned to love taffeta

Guestpost by Sarah McDaniel Dyer on Mar. 27th
finishing touches

Just because I'm more comfortable in Chucks than heels, doesn't mean I can't rock a pretty gown. (Thanks to Tribesmaid Katie67 for uploading this to our Flickr pool.

I have always been a tomboy. That's not to say that I've never worn a dress before; I do like to get "dressed up," it's just that my definition of dressed up doesn't match most of society's definition. In my everyday life I dress for comfort. My lack of makeup is as much about my personal preferences as my belief that women don't need eyeliner to be beautiful. I don't wear makeup because I don't feel like putting it on. I don't wear heels because I don't like to hobble myself. None of this made buying a wedding dress easy.

Now I love a pretty dress as much as the next girl, but trying to find a wedding gown that suited my personality and my budget was one of the hardest things about planning my wedding. Part of it was dealing with difficult sales people. I had one woman who would comment while pinning me into every single gown that I was going to "need some padding," or that I was too short for the dress. It got to the point where I finally had to tell her that I was not getting any taller and my breasts weren't getting any bigger so she needed to just deal with it. But even when the sales people were perfectly fine, nothing worked for me. I hated everything. I didn't want a formfitting dress but somehow I couldn't fit the notion of those giant cupcake dresses in with my lack of femininity.

To make matters worse, I was running out of time. I knew that I needed to order my dress soon in order to have it ready for the big day, and that ticking clock wasn't helping at all.

One night just for the hell of it I stopped into the bridal section of a major department store to try on some more dresses, completely forgetting that I was covered in bruises from the mosh pit I'd been in that week. The sales woman was great, but after the fourth dress I was waiting for her to get annoyed. Finally she brought in a dress that had a tight bodice and a whole lot of poof at the bottom. I didn't even want to try it on but the lady pressed me not unkindly as to why I was so uncomfortable with it.

"Because it's not me. I don't dress like that. I don't wear giant girly things."

"But it's your wedding day. You don't have to wear what you wear everyday. You can wear whatever you want even if it's girly."

On went the cupcake dress. As I stood there in my bruised rocker glory, pretending to be Bridezilla destroying Tokyo, I realized she was right. I was having a hard time finding a dress because I was uncomfortable with the fact that what I wanted was something super-girly. I was ludicrously afraid that by dressing up like a princess for a day I would somehow compromise the person I thought I was. I had to come to terms with the fact that wanting to wear a cupcake dress doesn't make me feel like less of a badass. It makes me a woman who often gets dressed in the dark but who also wants to look like the belle of the ball occasionally.

While I didn't find my dress that day, that moment made me ready when I finally did find it. My jeans and beat-up sneakers don't make me a tomboy the same way my wedding dress didn't turn me into royalty. I needed to stop worrying about what my dress "said about me" and more about whether or not I liked it — because that's all that mattered.

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About Sarah McDaniel Dyer

Sarah McDaniel Dyer is the Editor-in-Chief of Old Timey Hedgehog. She has had more odd jobs than is healthy or wise. She started Old Timey Hedgehog because books have always kept her going.