By Valerie Okleshen

Next was getting dressed.  A chore I did not like much those days, especially when it involved putting on pantyhose.  They didn’t just glide up like they used to.  It took a lot of work to maneuver those bad-boys up my thighs and over my butt.  I can’t tell you how many pairs of pantyhose I ran and / or ripped when I was overweight.  Even so, I found my black hose and, moving very cautiously, got them around my feet successfully.  Then inch-by-inch I worked them up my legs (beads of sweat forming on my forehead in the process) until the top was around my waist.  I exhaled a sigh of relief.  And once I had the control top positioned, I was all-good.  I just loved those control tops by the way.  I felt so contained in them.  For a heavy person that was such a good feeling.  At any rate, with my pantyhose on, I was making progress.  I had a little less anxiety.  I was a bit worried about my outfit though.

I took the shell off the hanger and slipped it over my head.  So far so good.  I called for my mom.  She needed to zip it for me since the shell closed with a seamless, very thin zipper down its back.  I turned around and my mom took hold of the zipper’s tiny head-thing.  I held my breath.  I wondered, how in the world is this miniscule zipper going to hold me in, as my mom slowly began to pull the zipper down.  I felt the fabric tighten around my midsection.  She paused and maneuvered it a bit.  Then she told me to suck in.  I breathed in as big as I could and with a little work the zipper made it all the way down.  My mom stepped back.  She told me it was good.  It fit.  It was tight, especially at the bottom, but still, it fit.  Almost there.

I took the skirt off the hanger and stepped into it.  I pulled it up over my legs and it was smooth sailing until the waistline got to my hips.  At that point the skirt got seriously stuck.  The hole for the waist was just not big enough to fit around my hips.  Immediately I looked at my mother for what to do.  She responded with a remark about how maybe the skirt had shrunk the last time I’d had it to the dry cleaner.  Then she told me she was going to check on something downstairs and that she would be back.  Truth was, I think she’d had enough with getting me into the top and probably couldn’t take anymore.  I didn’t blame her.  These experiences were so tiresome.  Either way, I didn’t mind her leaving me alone.  Squeezing into my too small clothes was not something I wanted an audience for, even if that audience was my mother.

So I moved forward with the skirt on my own.  I inched one side up and then the other, being careful not to rip it because it was tight.  I could feel the fabric being stretched to its limit.  I just kept moving it up little by little very slowly.  I reminded myself that it was good quality clothing and it wasn’t going to rip easily.  And with a little more maneuvering, I was able to work the skirt up to my waist, although it was super tight around my hips.  I mean tight.  Dancing at the reception was going to be with very limited movement, if at all.  But I was determined to make this outfit happen so I persevered.  Plus, it was the only outfit I had so it pretty much had to work.

I just had one thing left and that was the skirt’s zipper.  I reached in back, grabbed the zipper-tab-thing, and tried to hike it up.  It went nowhere.  I went into my mom’s large walk-in closet and turned around to have a look in the full-size mirror on the wall.  The zipper was splayed open.  Wide open.  It was going to be tough.  Nevertheless, I tried again, but this time with two hands; with one I grabbed the skirt at the base of the zipper and with the other I tried again to tug the tab up.  There was no movement.  I tried a third and a fourth time.  The zipper was so not moving.  Again, I started to sweat.  There is nothing like working up a sweat when getting dressed for a wedding, I said to myself trying to find some humor in the whole thing.  But the truth was, I was already uncomfortable and I wasn’t even fully clothed yet.  And I was kind of beginning to feel really sad.  Ugh.  It was not fun.

I just needed help, I decided.  If I hold the fabric together while someone else pulls the zipper up at the same time, it’ll surely close.  I yelled for my husband.  He came into the bedroom.  He was all dressed and ready to go.  He looked nice in his suit and tie.  I turned around and showed him the problem.  He took a giant step back (I don’t think he could have gotten far enough away from that skirt) and told me right away that he didn’t think the zipper would close.  Actually, he seemed pretty sure that it wasn’t going to close.  He seemed a little scared, too.  I assured him that if we worked together it would.  He then said that he didn’t want to tear the skirt.  My heart sank.  But I wasn’t stopping.  I also assured him that skirt was good quality – it was almost 200 dollars dammit – it could take a little force.  “Trust me,” I told him.  Well, he did.  He turned me around and took hold of the zipper.