First, let me say I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I’m not sure which is the chicken and which is the egg: When I’m down and depressed, I don’t want to post anything. But does not posting cause or enhance the depression? I’m not sure. Either way, last night I was watching Project Runway (I’m a huge fan and have seen every single episode and follow the Project Rungay blog religiously) and I learned a new word. I tweeted the word, but then this morning I find myself wanting to say it over and over and over, so I thought I’d blog about it. The word is Volumptuous, and it is a portmanteau of the words voluptuous and, I’m guessing, sumptuous.

The dress looked 1000 times better without the stupid jacket, and I hate the way they have her hair, but this dress isn't as bad as they made it out to be.

Here’s the background: This was the “real women” challenge (each season has one) in which the contestants had to forgo their skinny sized-0 models for actual women. There is always one or two really large women in the group. They are invariably picked last and last night was no exception. In the episode, the women were wearing old (and mostly horrific) bridesmaid’s gowns and the designers were asked to rework the gown into something wearable. You could tell early on that the designers were not picking women by what they were wearing, but how they looked.

Designer Michael Drummond was last to pick and he got “stuck” with the biggest girl on the runway (who is way smaller than me, by the way). In past episodes I’ve seen designers complain, make fun of, and even cry over getting the “fat” girl model, but Michael D. had more class than most. You could tell he was thinking it, but he was very careful never to say anything negative about his model’s size. This is how the word volumptuous came to be. He was trying so hard not to say anything negative and stumbled over the word voluptuous. Once he heard it, he even realized how good it was and used it a few more times.

To Michael’s credit, I believed him when he said his goal was to make his model feel pretty and sexy when she walked down the runway. It probably hurt him in the competition, because he focused so much on his model’s feelings, that he ended up making a pretty ordinary dress that was in the bottom three. However, he did achieve his goal. His model said she loved her dress, even though the judges ripped it to shreds. Although I didn’t love the dress, what I did love is that Michael focused on the woman’s shape and didn’t try to hide it.

This image actually makes the dress look better than it really did, with her cute pose and the artful shadow. Don't be fooled! The dress is hideous.

The judges all said they liked the original bridesmaid dress better. This is ridiculous. First, the “before” dress totally was a sack. It didn’t fit her boobs, it hung like she had just lost 30 lbs, and it was this ugly, shiny, pink satin that doesn’t look good on anyone. What they meant was, the old dress hid her fat and the new one celebrates it and we fashionistas don’t like that. (Well, that is what I heard anyway.) Michael’s refit, while not my favorite of the night, did fit perfectly and celebrated the girls curves. In fact, the on only thing that really worked against it was he chose ugly upholstery fabric (for the yardage) and it looked cheap and awkward. The same exact design (minus the stupid bolero jacket) in nice fabric would have been lovely.

So while watching this, episode, my daughter asked if I had ever been a bridesmaid. I said I had been a bridesmaid once, maid of honor four times, and best man once:

The first time I was a bridesmaid, it was for my best friend. She was being married in a “dry” county in Arkansas and we bought her wedding dress and the flowers at the local department store the day before the wedding. The “limousine” was a pickup truck, and believe me, no one was looking at my dress. Plus, the bride was 8 months pregnant, so at least one person was bigger than me! I don’t think there are any pics of that wedding and the only remaining proof of that ill-fated marriage is my beloved god-daughter.

My next bridesmaid’s dress was for an older cousin who I have always looked up to. She picked a Laura Ashley dress because… you can totally wear it again. I was, of course, the fattest of her bridesmaids. I thought I was huge, but at the time Laura Ashley only went up to size 14, so how big could I have been? This was before the Internet, so I had to drive to a store far away to get my size, and I ended up looking a bit like Alice in Wonderland. I eventually did wear the dress again, as Maid of Honor to my dear friend who was having an non-traditional wedding in a backyard, where I was the only bridesmaid so I didn’t have to compare myself to anyone else.

I'm the second from the left. Still the fattest of them all, but I feel great! For the record, this wedding was about 13 years ago.

My last two turns at wedding parties where when my brother and sister got married the same summer. I was his “best man” and her maid-of-honor. This was also the summer of Fen-Phen, so I was losing weight at a remarkable rate.  My sister picked a very lovely green dress with an empire waist, which worked for my figure. I lost about 30 pounds between my first fitting and my final fitting which made it difficult, but not as bad as gaining 30 pounds. For my brother’s wedding I wore the same tux jacket as the guys, but paired with women’s pants. It was “different” and fun. The photographer used a picture from the wedding as his ad in Martha Stewart Magazine and I still keep a copy of it. I’m laughing, we all are, and look pretty. It is one of my best fashion/self-image memories.

It’s funny because I hate being a bridesmaid, and managed to convince my other two sisters not to invite me into the wedding party, but now that I’ve written it all down, I’m not sure why. Maybe at the time I didn’t feel as good about myself, but with age comes wisdom and I’m glad I have those pictures of me, and that I am such an important part of so many people’s lives. And that I never had to wear any of those horror-show satin numbers like the poor models from last night’s show.

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