On Being a Girl: An Eventer Goes Dress Shopping

Say ‘I guess’ to the dress. Photo courtesy of Rachel Skirvin.

My awesome friend Sarah is getting married and I’m a bridesmaid. Sarah is an eventer, but Sarah is totally a girl. She knows about all things makeup, hair, heels and cuteness that are completely foreign to me. Dresses are kind of like Arabians: pretty to look at, a little unconventional, but sometimes you find one that’s kinda cool. It doesn’t help that I’m shaped like a sausage. There isn’t much going on other than a straight, short, boxy, cylindrical human. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. At all. I’m just not meant to model bikinis.

So I threw the kids in Carle, my F350 dually (a super feminine and petite flower of a vehicle), and headed to the granny’s house so I could drop them off and venture to the dress store. I reached in my purse and pulled out foundation, one of my four makeup items, the others being powder, eyeshadow and chapstick. Oliver, who never misses anything, immediately asked, “Mommy, what’s that?”



Um … I don’t honestly know. It’s a bit of a foreign concept to me. It’s clearly a huge staple in my life because my 4 year old child knows what a splint boot is, but is totally confused by me putting on makeup. My ambulance partner Val tries to help. She took me into Sephora and had me sign up for this deal that sends you samples of random facial war paints each month. Luckily, they come with a handout that tells you what they are. Otherwise, I would probably taste each one or use the truth serum as a hydration mask, which is obviously ridiculous. Obviously.

So I pull up to this dress shop, which is in a part of town where you don’t see many F350s as daily drivers. I jumped out, trying to hurry as I was already late, and a soccer mom and her kid stare in amazement. Carle got up-downed — I could see the fear and disgust in her eyes. Why would someone drive something so loud? So dirty? So eco-destructive??? Then I go in. Sarah meets me and tells me to pick a dress, there will be one color, but we can choose a style. There is a lady there to help. She disappears. I’m all alone. With all these dresses. What looks good on a 5’ Midwestern sausage with man shoulders and a slowly fading farmers tan? Nothing.

I eventually find my Arabian dress and the unhelpful lady asks me what size I need.

“Uh, extra medium short?” I know my Pipers, Levis, t-shirt, shoes and sports bra size. Other than that, your guess is as good as mine.

So she measures me, tells me to stand with my feet and legs together like five times (so unnatural), then informs me of my size. HOLD THE BUS NANCY. Where do you people come up with your size charts??? Way to make me feel like the subject of a Raffi song. Glad Carle has that extra set of tires to haul me back to Shelbyville. One more negative checkmark on the anti-dress spreadsheet …

I guess it’s good to be diverse. If all of my friends were exactly like me, it would be the most amazing thing ever bad for business. I’ll keep going along, all feral looking, while others grasp the wonders of femininity. Thank goodness Sarah planned wings and beer after dress shopping, and thank goodness I have a barn full of things totally unladylike that make me super happy and love me no matter what my appearance or dress size is.

Why did she keep telling me to stand with my feet together? Much more in my element after a successful Jumpstart H.T. Photo courtesy Jen Austin.