Me, a Bridesmaid?

I just promised my best friend that I’ll wear a dress and be her bridesmaid in her wedding next fall. And now I’m freaking out.

My thoughts are whirling about; my emotions are all over the place. I’ve pretty much been panicking since I found out about this, fewer than 24 hours ago.

On the one hand (and apparently the most influential hand), I couldn’t say no to her. She’s been my best friend for ten years. She’s the closest I have to a sister, really. This is really important to her, and it means a lot to me to be involved in the wedding (politics about gay marriage and the issues with the institution of marriage itself aside). So, of course I said I would be her bridesmaid.

On the other hand, I really, really don’t want to wear a dress. Maybe even more than that, I don’t want to do everything that wearing a dress in a serious way entails — the makeup and heels and shaved legs, and I don’t know what else, but all of that. Or rather, it’s the wearing-of-the-dress for the traditional wedding that’s freaking me out: it’s not Drag Ball or gender fuck or just wearing a dress for the hell of it — it’s my best friend’s wedding.

And most of all, I’m panicking because it’s ten months away. I basically promised to be able to wear a dress in ten months. Prior to 24 hours ago, I had entertained daydreams of, well, looking a lot more boyish by that time next year. Just minutes before I got the bridesmaid offer message from my friend, I was looking at a pamphlet from Howard Brown about hormones. My pseudo-castle-in-the-air dreams were of starting T this upcoming spring and getting top surgery . . . sometime, once I could realistically and carefully plan everything out (partially depending on whether my insurance is really as good as I think it will be), and now those castle dreams are crumbling before I can even try to put a foundation beneath them.

And honestly, I don’t know for good and sure and ever whether I’m ready for this; I’m not completely certain that starting testosterone is absolutely something I want for myself now. But it’s really been feeling like it will be something I will want/need in the ever-nearer future. And this isn’t about right this second. It’s about the next ten months. I don’t know how I’m going to feel about myself, my gender, my body in three months, or six months, or ten months. And I really don’t want to be making these decisions based on whether I will be able to pull off wearing a bridesmaid dress and posing for wedding photos ten months from now. I want to be making these decisions when they’re right for me, not before and not after.

Part of me is really upset with my friend — upset that she would put me in this position of choosing –and that makes me feel so incredibly selfish. This is her day (and yes, that’s buying into all of the problematic myths about the magic of a woman’s wedding day, but I don’t care). She is, in many ways, very traditional. The women close to the couple are dress-wearing bridesmaids and stand on her side; the men close to the couple wear suits and stand with the groom. All symmetrical and traditional. Frankly, I didn’t know that that’s how people still do it. I’ve been to very few weddings — on the first I remember was the wedding of a family friend. The bride’s brother was actually her “man of honor.” The other wedding that sticks out in my mind is my (extremely unconventional and totally awesome) cousin: both she and her husband had their siblings and closest friends with them, completely disregarding gender. The first wedding was formal, a a huge event, a very traditional occasion. The second was informal, small, unusual, and it suited them perfectly. On neither occasion did the couple strategize about the genders/gender presentations of the people who stood with them.

To sum up the last paragraph, as it stands, if I don’t wear a dress, I’m not in the wedding party. If I pitched a huge fuss, maybe I could be a groomsman on her fiance’s side, maybe I could convince her that it doesn’t need to be symmetrical (her brother and I could stand on her side, along with her sister and a few other friends; her fiance’s sister could stand on his side, along with his friends). But it’s her wedding. She should have the wedding of her dreams. It’s about her (and her fiance); it’s not about me, and it shouldn’t be about me.

I’m not good at advocating for myself. I’ll admit it. Maybe I should have tried harder to tell her how much anxiety this is causing me. I tried; I really did (of course, it ended with me promising to wear whatever she wanted me to wear, to the best of my ability). And she’s been sweet, but she just doesn’t get it. I don’t think having a higher neckline to the bridesmaids dresses, or something similar, is really going to make me blend in better if I’ve been on T for five months (and it’s not going to change the fact that I’ll be a bridesmaid wearing a dress — even the thought is about enough to make me panic). Maybe I’m just borrowing trouble. It’s possible that, wedding worries aside, I won’t want to make any kinds of physical changes in the next year. In that case, it’ll just be a matter of wearing a dress for a day, and for her, I’ll manage. Somehow, I’ll manage.

So, what are your thoughts? Am I just freaking out? I’m really trying to just tell myself to worry about it as the time comes closer, not now. Am I crazy for stressing about the whole body issue when I don’t even know for certain what I want to do? It’s going to be a big church wedding, with her very conservative, Catholic family — is it wrong that this just amplifies my worries? Am I blowing things out of proportion? Am I being ridiculously self-centered? I love my best friend, and I want her wedding to be everything she hopes it will be. I’m just having issues dealing with it.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Me, a Bridesmaid?

  1. neverthebridesmaid

    Hey there you,

    I think its great that your friend want you to stand there with her on her special day. However, I really think that you need to tell her how you are feeling so that you can support her in the way that she wants you to. If your worried about getting a ladder in your tights (or even wearing tights at all) then you are not going to be able to help her out in the way she might imagine.

    Yes, she is your best friend and you want to make her happy – but you are her best friend too and I doubt that she would want to do anything to make you feel the way you are describing now.

    Give her a couple of weeks to get all the excitement and talk of matching ribbons out of her system and have a chat to her.

    I’m sure she will understand. – Good Luck with it all 🙂

  2. You have a right to be free. I have tears in my eyes after reading your post. Please, follow your own heart.

  3. Kian

    It doesn’t matter that you don’t know what you’re going to feel gender-wise in ten months, it just matters that she has no idea about the intense anxiety you’re feeling about being a bridesmaid in a traditional gown. Want to be a good friend? Tell her that you made a mistake, that you thought it would be okay, but you were wrong. This friendship goes both ways and if she found out the best day of her life could possibly be the worst day of yours, I don’t think it would make her happy. It would probably make her feel like shit for not knowing how much being a bridesmaid bothers you, if she found out later. This doesn’t make you selfish, it makes you human.

    I did something similar years ago. My senior year in college, I was still figuring out this gender stuff and really wanted to start experimenting with my look. However, out of familial obligation and wanting to be a “good daughter”, I planned on keeping my hair long, wearing makeup and wearing a dress to my graduation so that my mother could have traditional pictures and be happy. The night before I was so distressed about it, I got completely smashed and spent the whole day of graduation hung-over and throwing up, which effectively ruined the entire day. In hindsight, I wish I had told her that I was trans before graduation or even had been just a little selfish instead of self-harmingly selfless, but I can’t change it now. I can’t even look at graduation pictures now without feeling intense shame about the whole incident. My mother thought I wanted to punish her (I didn’t) and when I cut my hair off three weeks later, she was more than just confused. She thought I was lying about being trans because in her mind, if I had let myself look like a typical woman for my big day then that meant that I wasn’t really trans.

    Bottom-line: tell her now. It may not turn out perfectly and there’s a chance she may rescind her invitation, but, trust me, you’ll thank yourself later. Plus you won’t be lying just to make someone feel better – it never works the way you plan.

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