Shall we dance?

I have to be honest—I have never in my life watched Dancing with the Stars.

For the most part, I stay away from reality television. Not because I don’t get why it’s appealing. But because I do, and I fear that if I tune in for one episode, I’ll be hooked. Since I already watch several television shows every week—Modern Family, 30 Rock, The Office, Mad Men, and Project Runway, not to mention The Daily Show four nights a week—I don’t have much desire to add to that list.

But a friend told me about Margaret Cho’s recent blog post detailing her experience on Dancing with the Stars—specifically about her body issues while she was on the show—so I had to tune in, which is how I ended up watching the video above from DWTS on YouTube (which I recommend to all of you).

As it turns out, Cho suffered from a pretty typical case of low self-esteem when she was on the show. She said that she worried that she wasn’t as “in her body” as the other female contestants and had trouble watching herself dance in the mirror or viewing her performance after the show. According to Cho, she learned that she was “startingly insecure” about her body and “felt clumsy and awkward among the svelte, swanline figures of” the other women. (You can read her entire outstanding post here.)

While reading about Cho’s body issues, I was reminded of how I felt in the days leading up to our wedding.

As I’ve mentioned before, I went on the only diet of my adult life before our wedding, and, of course, I was worried about my weight on the big day. But as the day drew closer, I was worried about not being able to play the part of the bride more than anything else.

Whenever I had fantasized about getting married, I had always imagined the two of us together. But after we went to a friend’s wedding a couple of months before our own, it hit me that the groom is an after-thought at most weddings. All anybody wants to see is the bride. Oh, look at the bride! or Did you see the bride? My God, she even enters with her own theme song: “Here Comes the Bride.” The bride is quite literally the star of the show. And once I figured this out, I was terrified. How could I ever pull off being “The Bride”? And what would I do when everyone turned to look at me walking down the aisle, when all eyes were on me?

As it turned out, I pulled it off . . .

though a few people told me later that—like Cho on Dancing with the Stars—I looked uptight and nervous. I hate to admit it, but I was a complete wreck about standing in front of nearly two hundred people as the star of a play about my life, and as a result, I couldn’t fully enjoy the moment of our vows. I also felt a great sense of relief when the ceremony was over (see the picture to the left), which is probably not supposed to be how you feel when you get married. But, for better or worse, we had settled on a big, somewhat traditional wedding, and that was the price I paid for it. It kind of makes you understand why people elope (though I have problems with that as well).

I wonder if other people feel the same way Cho and I did on our big days—like a nervous klutz. Or if there are some women who feel like they are born to play these roles. And if so, what the hell is wrong with them?

3 comments on “Shall we dance?

  1. That's such a cute photo of you guys!

    I never saw myself as a bride growing up, so it's amazing how quickly I fell into the trap of wanting to be perfect on my wedding day. I wanted to crash diet and pay a million dollars to have my hair and makeup done, but since I eloped, I just went as me. I put my hair up in a bun. I put on some Chapstick. We got married in New Orleans' July heat so there's no way I could have kept makeup on my face anyway. It would have sweat right off in ten minutes.

    Looking at my elopement photos I felt fat. But then my husband pointed out how happy I looked, and I realized that's what really matters. I think we're taught that you're supposed to be at the height of your beauty on your wedding day, and for most of us, that means that you should be at your lowest weight, too. For me it didn't work out that way, but it isn't the end of the world. It really isn't.

  2. Brittany on said:

    Great point Emily, I completely agree.

    And while I'm not married, I've been to a couple of Proms and a Military Ball. It is flattering to be the center of attention, but I remember the constant worry and fretting. 'Do my eyebrows match?' 'Is my bra showing?' 'Is my smile fake?' 'Do I look fat?'

    Why is it that I can't feel beautiful all the time? Why can't women feel proud of their dress and the way they look in it? It's all in our heads, because I know I keep thinking about how great someone smaller than me would look in the same dress, or I see another girl in a gorgeous, slinky dress that I know I could never pull off. Media… What have you done to me?

  3. Molly McCaffrey on said:

    I'm so glad Brittany responded to Emily's comments because it reminded me that I hadn't yet responded to Emily. And I really want to say how moving it was to hat Emily's husband focused on her happiness rather than her weight. That comment really says it all. When I see my loved ones (my husband or my friends and family), I don't notice imperfections, but rather the things I like about them. And that's what we forget–those who know us look for our good qualities not our bad ones. Sure, strangers might notice your imperfections, but who cares about them?

    Brittany raises some hard questions. I think we all know that the media is largely to blame for making women feel like we have to be perfect. But at the same time, I think we have to start taking more responsibility for our attitudes. It's kind of like growing up. It's easy to blame your parents for all of your issues, but at some point, you have to own your problems and fix them.

    Another thing we can do is start making each other feel better by complimenting each other. I go out of my way to find things I admire about other women and tell them as much as I can.

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