Article reproduced from Cosmo Online.
I'm not size zero, nowhere near, and I never will be. But I'm pretty much in the middle of the spectrum: when I got engaged I was a healthy size 12, fit and happy. Sounds great, right? But here's the catch: I was living in New York, where anything over a size 8 is 'problematic', to the point that I was regularly warned by female acquaintances that I'd have real trouble getting a man unless I dropped two dress sizes.
Well, I'm very pleased to say that they were wrong! We met online, and he was not only lovely and eligible, but happy to be tied for life to my gigantic, waddling, obese-by-New-York-standards figure, bless him. Unfortunately, once the ring slid onto my finger, the nightmare began. No, he didn't suddenly reveal weird sexual tastes he expected his wife to satisfy: but that would have been a walk in the park compared to the horror of wedding dress shopping in Size Zero City.
I quickly realised that the ideal bride in Manhattan wears a size 2 or 0 silk bias-cut slip dress. She is so slim that she can try on multiple versions without a bra on, her Japanese-straightened hair pulled back in a silky ponytail. She does not have 34D+ breasts, at which every single female shop assistant, without exception, will stare pointedly, saying: "Oh, yikes. What are we going to do with those? You're going to have to go up two sizes."
Seriously. 34D! I'm short, so they're more noticeable, but those women made me feel like something off an XXX channel. The nicest woman I met in my quest was, oddly, a Korean designer with no chest at all who said briskly, after the obligatory "yikes" comment, "We get you a dress that laces up the back. And then we don't tie the laces so tight." She found me the most beautiful lace dress, in which I looked like a demure, marriage-ready Jessica Rabbit, but even with the laces looser, I could barely walk in it, it was so fitted. God forbid I try to sit down: it would have split. If I could have spent my whole wedding circling on a Segway, it would have been perfect. Also it cost $7000, so… I still remember how great I looked in that dress with regret, but my bank balance doesn't.
The meanest woman I encountered, however, actually reduced me to tears. She worked at a well-known Upper East Side wedding dress store, and despite being distinctly curvy herself, she looked me up and down like a madam assessing a new brothel employee who wasn't up to her standards, barking: "You're a size 18."
That's a US size 18, let me point out - a UK 22. I stammered that I usually wore a US size 10 dress - UK 14 - to accommodate my boobs, but she snapped:
"Marilyn Monroe wore a size 16! Suck it up!" grabbed two dresses and threw them at me. I retreated to the changing room, already traumatised, and tried one on: it hung off me in huge folds. I hobbled outside, swathed in excess fabric, to show her that I could go down at least a couple of sizes, but she immediately started pinching at me while saying:
"Just a couple of tucks here - our dressmaker can deal with that. See, I was right! You ladies never know your own size."
Seriously, the dress would have fallen down at my ankles if I weren't holding it up. I took it off, ran for my life, rang my fiancé and sobbed hysterically down the phone at him about hating this city, then hopped the subway back to SoHo, where I lived. Walking home past Bloomingdale's Downtown, I wandered in to cheer myself up by spraying on some perfume and ended up in the dress department with a lovely gay guy looking after me. He brought me dress after dress until we found one that didn't, as I put it, 'look like I was marrying a gay guy in Miami' - or in other words, didn't show cleavage.
And after an hour, we found it. Size 10, white beaded silk chiffon, slinky but covering the 34Ds - which, of course, he was the only one to appreciate. As an added bonus, it wasn't part of a wedding dress collection, so it cost much, much less than the ones I'd been looking at. I cried all over again, in sheer relief this time.
And then I moved to London, where I'm normal. I've even put on a few pounds! Seriously, don't believe what people say about it being difficult to find a man in New York. The men are easy. It's the wedding dress shopping that's hard.