Our granddaughter, Yar, got her first look at her flower girl dress via Facetime, since the dresses were shipped here, and she lives in another state. As I held the camera up to take in the layers of blush tulle, satin and lace, I watched her face light up.
“It’s SO beautiful!” she breathed.
“It is,” I agreed, “a beautiful dress for a beautiful girl.”
Last week, she finally got to put her dress on for the wedding. She and her sister, Callie, walked with me into the room where the bride and all of her bridesmaids were preparing. Their awe at seeing the bride in her dress only slowing them down briefly, they jumped up and down, ready for their own transformation. Dresses zipped, bows pinned, lacy socks and Mary Jane’s on and they were ready. I watched as they excitedly twirled in front of the mirrors, giggling with joy at their skirts flying. “Look at me! Look at me, Grandma!”
To me, there is something magical in watching a young girl twirl in a dress, unhindered by doubts about being beloved or beautiful, eagerly calling others to look, to see her in all her glory. I’m quite certain I did my own fair share of twirling as a little girl, most likely in my favorite navy dress with little flowers embroidered around the top.
The visceral sense of delight that I felt the day my mom brought me that dress, saved for decades, tells me how full of delight I was as a little girl while wearing it. Where does that delight disappear for us in the transformation from little girls to women?
I’ve heard enough stories over the years from other women to know I am not alone in my struggle to access any sense of delight, much less kindness as I imagine others’ eyes taking me in…and how often do you hear another woman call out with excitement, “Look at me!”
I believe most of us have instead become masters of hiding, whether behind designer outfits or baggy sweats, we are still covering up what we fear others will find unacceptable. Our fear is not without cause. Many of us can name powerful, life-altering moments where the innocent young girl in us learned she was not good enough, that she needed to be somehow different in order to be loved.
One of the most difficult parts of my healing journey has been learning to embrace and bless my body and my beauty.
I am slowly learning that even a moment of blessing can be transformational, this is not an all or nothing endeavor.
One of those moments for me came the day I went shopping for my dress for the wedding. I invited two of my close friends to come along, women who I knew I could trust to really see me, who I felt the freedom to be myself with, just as I am. The young girl in me came alive as soon as we stepped into the dress salon, the rows and rows of richly colored gowns added to the excitement. My friends patiently zipped, re-hung, and adjusted multiple dresses before I finally stepped out in one that made me want to twirl in front of the mirror. “I think this is the one.” I held my breath, anxious to hear their thoughts. They both nodded, “we knew it was the right one as soon as we saw your face, it just lit up!”
In that moment, I was inviting them to see me in all my glory…and as hard as that is to speak right now, in that moment, it was absolutely true.
In the weeks leading up to the wedding, I lost that delight for a time, literally twisting myself up inside with fear about how the day would go, how I would be, what others would see. The words of my friends brought me back, reminding me again of who I was when I let delight be true. And so, I moved across the dance floor with my son in our mother and son dance, soaking in all of the goodness as he twirled me around, as people watched…and I didn’t hide.
I would like to propose that twirly dresses might actually be instruments of transformation, reminding us we are women God crafted with such delight.
Wouldn’t you absolutely love spinning around, lost to everything but that moment, hearing Him proclaim, “Well look at you!”
Janet Stark is a woman learning to bless her depth and sensitivity. She is grateful for the deep love she shares with her husband, Chris and their kids and grandkids. Janet loves curling up with a good book, trying new recipes on her friends and family, and enjoying long conversations with friends over a cup of really good coffee. She is a life-long lover of words and writes about her experiences here.