Rock a runway. In a wedding dress. With a fascinator attached to barely-there peach fuzz.
And the illusion of eyebrows you taught yourself how to fake the day before thanks to a non-judgy esthetician at Ulta and the little miracle in a bottle that is KaBrow!
I’m not a plunge-y neckline kind of lady, so this particular occasion also required me to venture into the world of chicken cutlet-esque bra-like support – shockingly, those poultry shaped gel wonders actually worked!
I was asked to use them once again, for this upcoming Sunday, when the Fort Worth Bridal Show returns to the Convention Center. But for now, they will stay tucked away in my drawer of Things I’d Rather Never Wear Again (But Am Keeping Just in Case).
It’s all props to my madly creative friend Sue, proprietor of Ava’s Bridal Couture (on Camp Bowie for my local Cowtown peeps). She approached me two years ago, smack dab in the middle of my chemo treatment, with an offer to model two of her gorgeous gowns at the Bridal Show.
Much as I was flattered to be asked, everything in me wanted to say no at first.
“But I look (and feel) sick.”
“What if people stare?”
“Will I make the brides or their families or the vendors there feel uncomfortable?”
Annnnnnd my body had changed to a far more bodacious shape, thanks to the DIEP flap. Sure, my stomach is flat now – like crazy flat, even more than when I was 13 and swimming the butterfly stroke all summer long – but my hips and thighs could now qualify for their own zip code. Redistributed fat for the Old Navy leggings win!
All of that to say, would any of her stunning bridal couture even fit me? Likely negative, Ghost Rider.
Plus, dark chocolate becomes an even more necessary food group when you’re counting down the last two months of crappy chemo treatment. And I wasn’t about to decline the few food pleasures my palate could tolerate then, just to fit into a gown for two hours.
Those are just some of the reasons why my very logical mind was surprised when it heard my far more adventurous heart tell Sue that “Yes, of course, I’d love to do it!”
Fast forward to go-time, backstage, chicken cutlets firmly in place and faux eyebrows holding strong. Side note – it takes tremendous effort to tell oneself and then actually remember NOT to casually touch that part of the face, lest the entire Convention Center see two painstakingly drawn-on face framers looking more like they’d been applied by a blind-folded toddler run amok in Mommy’s makeup bag. I’m proud to say I resisted the urge, at least until the show was over and I could take a firm hand and a tissue to those suckers. High maintenance makeup is so not my jam, you guys.
The show itself rocked. A full house in the audience, the most upbeat pop songs blasting out of the speakers and Sue herself, narrating the designer, style and finishing details of every gown, which made the (very long) runway a little less intimidating.
The hardest part was changing out of one gown and into another before all the other models had already gone and it was my turn again (you don’t even want to know the amount of safety pinning, zipping, taping, fluffing and overall prepping that goes on before you see what you see).
I actually had the best time and would be back there in an instant if the weekend wasn’t already spoken for.
Moral of the story – for all that cancer takes away from you, don’t let it rob you of pursuing experiences outside your comfort zone. Especially if there is any part of you that thinks you shouldn’t do it, because it might make others feel uncomfortable, or because you don’t “look” like the typical whatever it may happen to be.
I felt like a total badass that day. I love that my children and my husband were there in support, and that they got to see me not as someone who was weak and sick, but as someone who pushes through the “what if” thoughts to say “why the heck not!”