Trying on my wedding dress would be the ultimate test. A slim column of white satin, it has aged and yellowed after two decades, but its unyielding dimensions haven’t budged. I’ve aged and greyed, had four kids, and my dimensions have stretched and softened. I knew the dress did not fit as recently as last fall, when I pulled it out of its storage bag for the first time to show it to my kids on my anniversary.
Toward the end of my eight-week waist trainer experiment this spring, it dawned on me that the wedding dress would be the definitive word on whether wearing the latex undergarment had effectively pushed my battered post-pregnancy ribs back into place. Even though I thought the waist trainer had creaked my ribcage inward – I felt the sore ache of it too, especially in the initial weeks – the subtle change wasn’t visible, especially not in my Covid-era shorts and tees.
Last fall, I’d stubbornly tried to zip my wedding dress up, so much so that the stitching threatened to break. This time I stepped into the dress and took care inching the side zipper up. Working slowly, I pulled the two sides together as the zipper neared the top. I held my breath and grimaced for a final tug. Then it was done. Fully zipped. Breath released.
Yes, I have gained weight since my wedding 20+ years ago. And no, the dress does not look the same on me now as it did then. But the point is that my ribs are verifiably closed again. Improbably, I’ve reversed the damage of four humans taking turns punching out my ribs during their stay in my uterus. A repair job, if you will. Pretty cool that it worked.
I didn’t want to assume that my ribs would stay in place after I stopped wearing the waist trainer daily. So I waited a week and tried it on again. And then waited another week and tried it on again. Still fits.
So I’m ready to declare the experiment a success for my purposes. Now the dress gets tucked back into its closet corner, both a sentimental treasure and gentle affront to my sense of practicality, like the wedding china we never use.
And I’m reminded of my son’s fourth grade teacher in Ohio, who wore her own wedding dress every year in the school’s Halloween parade. She demonstrated the cheery resourcefulness of her profession, with the high sense of fun and play that great teachers share. Kids and parents all loved it. And she looked fantastic and adorable.
So what was the point of my waist trainer project? You won’t find me wearing my wedding dress at Halloween, that’s for certain. My human experiment was just to see if I could remedy a toll that time had taken. And even though no one but me can tell, I love that the experiment worked. In the meantime, I improved my anatomical knowledge and developed a daily habit of knocking out a few minutes of abdominal exercises. I’m down to a few times a week now, but I notice I’m still getting stronger bit by bit.
I think it’s part of midlife to want to feel that our time is not yet over. We hope that aging doesn’t have to be an inevitable, slow decline. We can still do things, try new, become better. This was one little, silly thing. But for myself it was an effort, in this strange year of suspended animation, to continue taking small steps forward.