To shave or not to shave?

Being a fat hairy dyke is a bit of a stereotype, but, you know, if the flannel fits.

I stopped shaving my legs about 3 years ago and I stopped shaving my armpits about 2 years ago. I’ve shaved both a few times in the last few years for other people’s weddings. It felt easier to shave than to explain to relatives.

What was I going to say? It’s none of your goddamn business what I do in the shower, Aunt Bertha? My butch lover has taught me to farm and I’m moving to a feminist commune, Uncle Jim?

The truth is just that I’m tired of policing my body. I’ve done it for nearly 25 years. It’s exhausting. And, as I’ve recently discovered, I actually don’t have to do it.

A photo from when Nora visited and we walked around screaming about normalizing pit hair and arm fat

People view body hair on women as unfeminine, unclean, and undesirable. But my legs and armpits don’t grow hair as a political statement. They grow hair because I went through puberty and that’s what happens to adult bodies.

At first, not shaving started just because it was more convenient. Razor burn hurt, shaving took time, and it’s not like my partner cared. My leg hair is pretty light and even in the summer it’s hard to tell I haven’t shaved unless someone is sitting right next to me. It didn’t feel like a big deal.

I felt freer with hairy legs. I liked the way the summer breeze felt in my leg hair and I liked the peace of just leaving my body alone.

Teddy was the first person I met who wasn’t a man and didn’t shave their armpits. A lot of Teddy’s friends didn’t shave either. It was a new world for me. I wasn’t sure if it was for me or not, but what the hell, I was 22 and down to try stuff. So I tried out not shaving for a month.

Having hairy armpits felt like a much bigger deal than having hairy legs. It was dark and visible and in people’s line of vision.

At first it felt weird, but then I got used to it. Now I don’t think twice about lifting my arms in public. I do avoid wearing shirts that would expose my underarms at work, but I tended to do that even when I was shaving. (The entire notion of professional clothing is also so gendered and classist but that’s another discussion.)

WARNING: ADULT HUMAN FEMALE ARMPIT


I didn’t mean for it to be political. I just wanted to feel like my body belonged to me.

Up until that point, I had spent 22 years trying to fight with my body to get it to look like what other people thought it should. I shaved, I plucked, I squeezed, I dieted. I did everything except just let myself be.

My body comes with a soft belly that folds on itself when I sit. It comes with thighs that squish together when I walk. And it comes with leg hair, armpit hair, and the occasional chin hair. There’s nothing wrong or right about that because bodies don’t hold moral weight. They aren’t good or bad. They’re our homes, they are us, and I’ve been trying really hard to feel at home in mine. I still don’t feel at home every day, but the days when I can just let myself be, I feel like I am close.

But now I have a decision to make about my wedding. And with our engagement photos around the corner, it’s starting to feel pressing.

In the photos I will have forever, do I want to see my body hair? Will I feel more comfortable dancing through the night with it there? Or will it be more comfortable to know that no one is looking? Will it be more comfortable to just shave and not have to explain?

Will I feel ashamed if I give into the pressure to shave? Or will I feel so stressed about the politics of body hair that I can’t enjoy my wedding if I don’t shave?

I don’t have the answers to these questions. I go back and forth about it at least once a day. My choice will be pretty visually obvious either way, but I didn’t want to pretend like it wasn’t an active choice.

In summary, being a woman is hard. As freeing as it is to live my life as a fat hairy dyke, I feel so much more pressure than I thought I would to alter my body during the wedding process.

I don’t think it would be a failure to shave. Just like it’s not a failure to wear makeup or spanx. These are all things women like me do to feel better and look more acceptable to society. I’m not ashamed of doing these things, but I want to know exactly why I’m doing them and I want to do them on purpose.



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I’m back and we have a budget.

Hello again! It’s been awhile. As most of you know, I started a new job in February and things have been pretty hectic. We also got a cat!

This is our son Eugene! He loves: his Teds, cuddling, heat pads, and meowing at 6am.

But a lot has happened in the last few months with our wedding planning and I’m excited to start with updates!

  1. We have a BUDGET!
  2. We have a photographer
  3. We have venue visits scheduled!
  4. We’re planning a formal engagement party with family in California

So that’s at least 4 blog posts worth of updates. For this one, I’m going to talk about the budget.

Before I get started, I want to make a few things clear.

First, money comes with a lot of emotional baggage. Whether you grew up with lots of it, none of it, or somewhere in between, money is emotional. When you’re in a relationship with someone from a different class background, money Comes Up A Lot.

Second, I absolutely adore my future in-laws. I am endlessly grateful for the way they’ve welcomed me into their family and I am thankful that they have been so generous in helping us financially.

Third, I love my family. We haven’t always had a lot of money, but we’ve always had an abundance of love, trust, and communication. Whatever we’ve had has always been to share and I wouldn’t trade that kind of lived solidarity for anything.

Finally, one of the biggest class differences I’ve encountered since I moved to the east coast and have been among The Rich is how people talk (or don’t talk) about money. In working class families, you talk about money or you don’t survive. I know exactly how much money my family members make, what their rent is, and when their bills are due. It’s a matter of survival and it’s a matter of building community. When one of us has extra, we share. When one of us needs extra, we know we can count on our community.

Rich people HATE talking about money. And that’s the predominant cultural narrative. It’s rude to talk about money. Rude how? Rude to help your co-workers figure out if they’re underpaid? Rude for your friends to know if they’re getting screwed on rent? Rude for people to know what a normal wedding budget is?? Rich people are wild, honestly.

But in all seriousness, I really believe that being transparent about money is one of the simplest ways you can subvert all of the shame and silence that capitalism imposes on us. On this blog and in my life, I’m going to talk about money. If that makes you uncomfortable, it’s not your fault, but talk about money anyway.

Now with the caveats out of the way, let’s talk numbers.

Our total wedding budget is $30,000. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Venue: $7,000
  • Catering: $5,000 (about $35/guest)
  • Cake: $500
  • Photographer (including engagement photos): $3,600
  • DJ: $1,000
  • Ceremony musicians: $200 (good to have musicians in the family!)
  • Flowers: $1,000
  • Bridal party gifts: $800
  • Save the dates, invitations, and stamps: $500
  • Dress (including alterations): $2,000
  • (Teddy won a free custom suit from DC Custom Clothiers and will be rocking it for our wedding. I honestly cannot recommend them enough.)
  • Dress accessories: $400
  • Hair: $300
  • Makeup: $100 (My bridesmaid Vivian is a professional makeup artist! I am so lucky! This is a placeholder for products, etc)
  • Manicures: $400
  • Officiant: $500
  • Other decor: $1,000
  • Rehearsal dinner: $1,500
  • Transportation (from hotel to venue): $1,000
  • Event insurance: $200
  • Dog sitter: $100
  • Programs: $100
  • Tips for vendors: $1,000
  • Emergency fund: $2,000

Budgeting is about priorities, so we started there.

We talked about the things that mattered most to us and the things we didn’t want to prioritize, and we aligned our money accordingly. It was important to both of us that we have our wedding in the exact location we wanted, so we were willing to pay more for a venue. We knew that we’d cherish the photos for the rest of our lives, so we weren’t going to skimp on photography. And if we need to nix other decor and increase our catering budget so everyone can eat food they love, that’s what we’ll do.

Neither of us care very much about flowers or other decor, since the venue will really be the star. We’ll have flowers and decor, but because it doesn’t matter that much to us, we sort of shrugged and threw a low estimate into our spreadsheet.

What we care about:

  • Venue
  • Photographer
  • Guest list
  • Good food for everyone

What we don’t care about:

  • Flowers
  • Decor
  • Wedding favors/ random trinkets

If you know me, I’m sure it will not surprise you to know that each line item was thoroughly researched. (I’m talking: national averages, regional averages, pricing out specific vendors).

Then it came time to figure out how we would actually pay for any of this.

Before I proposed to Teddy, I had a one-on-one lunch with their dad Steve in which he offered me “both” of Teddy’s hands in marriage. He also offered to help financially with the wedding, which was a huge blessing.

It was important to all of us that Teddy and I paid for part of our wedding. We’re both adults with well-paying jobs and while we don’t have a lot of savings built up yet, we wanted to have ownership over our celebration.

The three of us (me, Teddy, and Steve) agreed that he would contribute $20,000 and we would contribute $10,000. It was a huge burden off of our shoulders to not need to save any more than that and still have the wedding we want.

Spending money is always emotionally fraught, especially when you’re not accustomed to having very much of it. $30,000 is a lot of fucking money! That’s an entry level salary in a lot of jobs. (Those jobs all need unions by the way! Especially if you’re living in a place with a high cost of living! Why are non-profits still trying to pay people $30k in DC??? It’s not ok!!! Yes, this is my blog and I will advocate for unionizing when and where I see fit. Thank you for your attention this issue.)

Anyway, it’s a lot of money. I still owe $28,000 in student loans. It feels absurd to spend that amount of money on one party. I feel shame about having debt, shame about not being able to save a lot yet, and shame about wanting something extravagant at the same time. Shame is so attached to money. We feel shame for owing it and shame for spending it.

I know that even though being financially stable feels good, I feel guilty every day that I have a small emergency fund while I know people are struggling. And I know that even though this wedding will be the best day of my life, I’m going to be dealing with the guilt of spending money on it.

Everything in the wedding industry is overpriced. You can definitely shop around for deals and work with cool vendors, but at the end of the day it’s a huge money making industry.

It would be a lie to say that we even considered having a smaller wedding to cut costs. My family alone is 80 people. Our final guest list is at 165 and that’s a TIGHT 165. A WELL CULLED 165. An I Cried A Lot 165.

The reality is, with that many guests we were already looking at a higher budget. And we both agreed that was okay. Before we’d even been offered money, we decided between us that if it meant we had to save for a few years to have the wedding we wanted, we didn’t want to compromise on the guest list.

Some things cost a lot of money. Some things are worth spending a lot of money. For us, having everyone we love in a beautiful place with good food to eat is worth it.

With the wedding planning and starting a new job, I’ve been thinking about money a lot recently. Not just day to day money stuff, but bigger picture money stuff. Like, what does it mean to be moving into the upper middle class when you’ve never felt like you belong there? What does it mean to be joining a family much wealthier than yours with their own values and customs around money that feel totally foreign? That’s a topic for another blog post and that I’m equal parts excited and nervous to write.

For now, I feel much calmer knowing that we have a budget. We translated our priorities for our wedding into concrete dollar amounts in a spreadsheet. What could be more romantic?

Stay tuned for more updates & thank you for the support xo

Talking around being fat

(This post discusses body image, relationship to food and exercise, clothing sizes, and mental health.  Please proceed with caution and care if any of these things are upsetting or triggering for you to read about.)

I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t aware of being fat. 

If reading that made you uncomfortable, that’s ok. We’ve been conditioned to think of “fat” as a bad thing. We’ve been taught to tell people “you’re not fat; you’re beautiful!” I promise you don’t need to tell me that. Because I am beautiful! And I am also fat! 

I also want to acknowledge that while I am fatter than most plus-size models, there are also many women whose sizes aren’t carried in plus-size stores and many women whose proportions aren’t catered to even by plus-size brands. I’m talking about my journey and feelings about my own body, and I want to be clear that as a feminine white woman who can shop in plus-size stores, I am still in a more privileged position that many people.

We have a lot of euphemisms and ways we talk around what it means to be fat. Many women, myself included, have been called a fat lesbian as an insult. Andrea Gibson has a poem called “Your Life” where they talk about their long journey of coming to terms with their sexuality and gender identity. In it they say, 

They’re going to keep calling you a crime of nature/ and you’re gonna look at all your options and choose conviction/ choose to carve your own heart out of the side of a cliff/ choose to spend your whole life telling secrets you owe no one to everyone/ till there is no one who can insult you by calling you what you are.

Andrea Gibson, “Your Life” 

It is the Most Lesbian thing I can do to explain my feelings through an Andrea Gibson poem, but here we are. I am a fat dyke and there’s no one who can insult me by calling me what I am–by what I am proud to be. 

Very cute fat lesbians

But getting there has taken a long time. 

My body has been varying sizes and varying levels of social acceptability for as long as I can remember. Today, I’m the biggest I’ve ever been. I’m a size 16, sometimes a 14 if the pants are stretchy or if I’m lying. 

I’m also the healthiest I’ve ever been, both physically and mentally. I cook almost all of my own meals, I have a gym membership, and most importantly, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about all the ways my body should change.

I eat when I’m hungry, I go to the gym when I’m stressed out, I almost always remember to take my meds, and I usually get enough sleep. I do all of these things and I am fat. 

It’s hard for many people, unfortunately including many doctors, to wrap their heads around the idea that people can be both fat and healthy. And for that matter, that people can be thin and unhealthy.  

There were times in high school where I weighed at least 70 pounds less than I do now and had a diet of McDonald’s, energy bars, and Dr. Pepper. There were times in college where I was sleeping 3 hours a night and I was at the lowest point of my ongoing battle with depression. I was thinner at these times but I was so unhealthy.

But moving through the world as a fat person means dealing with people every day who make your health their business. It’s not that they have an issue with your body, it’s just that they’re so concerned about your blood pressure or your heart or any other thing they can use to justify intruding into your life. 

As just one example of how dangerous this can be, doctors have told me most of my life to be concerned about my blood pressure. Because of my size, I was at risk for hypertension and needed to keep a close eye on it. In November 2017, I had a seizure because my blood pressure dropped so low that oxygen was unable to reach my brain. This was not the first time I had fainted from low blood pressure, but doctors kept telling me I was at risk for hypertension. As it turns out, I actually need to drink more water and eat more salt than most people to keep my blood pressure high enough that I don’t faint. 

You get used to people feigning concern about your health like you get used to dreading the middle seat on the airplane and being aware to never let your thighs spill across to the next seat on the metro. The same way you get used to avoiding the stores your thin friends shop at because their sizes run up to a 12. The same way you get used to politely nodding when a thin relative or friend tells you about the 10 pounds they’re trying to lose, knowing they would view looking like you as a failure.

The same way you get used to hearing that if you find love it will be because someone can look past your body and see how kind or funny you are. 

Falling in love with Teddy was the best thing I ever did for so many reasons. But I never expected how much it would do for my body image. Teddy was the first person I’d been in love with who had a body like mine. 

How could you not fall in love???

I love my partner’s body and in theirs, I can see my own. I love their soft belly and the way their eyes disappear into their cheeks when they smile. Things I hated about my own body, I found myself loving about Teddy. Not tolerating Teddy despite these things, but really, genuinely loving these things. I don’t know if I’m all the way to loving my body in the same way, but I’m at least aware that it’s possible. 

So much of making peace with my body has happened since coming out. I cannot overemphasize how freeing it was for me to realize that it literally did not matter if a man ever found me attractive again for the rest of my life.

But now my 15+ years of work learning to love my body, or at least be at peace with it, is coming up against its biggest challenge yet: the wedding industry.

The wedding industry has found a lot of ways to talk around what it means to be a fat bride without ever directly addressing it. We’re called plus-size brides, curvy brides, and sometimes just under the catch-all “alternative brides.” 

We need different dress sizes, different ring sizes, and photographers who will take extra care to be body positive, just to name a few things. 

Being a woman means always preparing more. It means having a safety plan everywhere you go, evaluating every outfit for if you might get catcalled or objectified, feeling guilty for thinking about that, ad infinitum. Being a fat woman means also thinking carefully about the size of spaces you’ll be in, doing a full scan of every room you’re in to confirm you’re the biggest one there, overthinking everything you eat in front of other people, and feeling guilty for thinking about that. Being a fat lesbian on top of all those things, I’m also always aware of the politics of the place I’m in and always trying to spot the most likely homophobe in the room. 

All this is to say, I’m used to going in with a plan. Our wedding is no different. 

So far, I’ve planned to visit a bridal boutique in DC that specifically caters to “plus-size brides.” I know that they’ll have samples that will fit me here and that their consultants won’t be at a loss of what to do with a size 16 woman who has no plan to lose weight.

When looking at photographers portfolios, not only am I looking to see other gay couples, I’m looking to see fat brides, and butch or gender non-conforming people. I need to know that the photographer we’re working with knows how to work with people like us.

I want to be comfortable at our wedding. I don’t want to wear Spanx under my dress, I want to eat as much food as I want, and I want to dance. 

I wanted to write this post now before appointments are set and things are booked because I’m not sure what parts of planning it will impact. I don’t know what it’s like to plan a wedding as a fat lesbian because I’ve never done it before and because no wedding planning advice is catered to us. 

If I’m going to talk honestly about the process of planning, I don’t want to talk around being fat; I just want to talk about it. 

We got En(gay)ged! Here’s how.

Let’s start off the wedding blogging right: with the one part I’ve already successfully done. I proposed! And they said yes!

Teddy and I had our first date on July 8th, 2016. So, I guess I started planning different ways I could propose to them on July 9th, 2016. But we started talking about marriage as part of our immediate future after we moved in together. We took the decision to move in together as seriously as we took the decision to get married because we saw it as a permanent joining of our lives, our families, and, frankly, our finances. 

Financing an engagement is the thing I’ve been asked about the most, but always in hushed tones or prefaced with “I’m sorry if this is rude to ask, but”. People have been conditioned to be so embarrassed by talking about money! One of the things I really want to do with this blog is talk about money openly, which I think we all need to do a little more of. 

Shortly after we moved in together, we opened a joint savings account at a credit union. We knew we had joint savings goals we wanted to work toward together, and we also knew we’d need documentation of joint assets if we needed to formally file as domestic partners for insurance reasons. 

We agreed at the beginning to each contribute $200 a month to our joint account with the idea that once we had enough for an emergency fund and engagement rings, we’d start the process of engagement shopping. Honestly, we ended up so excited about the prospect of getting engaged that we didn’t end up with as big of an emergency fund as we had originally intended, but we’re still working on it! 

A lot of same-sex couples decide on just one engagement ring or no engagement rings, but we decided that we each wanted an engagement ring. We both have specific tastes so we wanted to look together, but ultimately each pick out our own rings. Teddy wanted a simple wedding band and I wanted one that was a bit more ornate, so we decided that we’d set a budget for each person for both an engagement ring and wedding band. 

We settled on a budget of about $1,800 per person. 

Neither of us wanted a diamond as a center stone for various reasons. Teddy had always wanted a sapphire. I had thought I wanted a diamond for a long time, but the more I thought about wearing something that would cost as much as several months of a future child’s preschool on my hand, the more I was drawn to alternatives. (No shade at brides who want diamonds! That was just our financial reality.) I’ve always loved opals and the way they caught the light, so I found an opal ring that I love. 

Here are the rings we bought! 
My engagement ring (size 7.5, 18K white gold) 
Teddy’s engagement ring (size 10.5, 0.81 carats, white gold)
My wedding band (size 7.5, 18K white gold)
Teddy’s wedding band: TBD, but something close to that. 

Look at how pretty they are!! (Yes, I did paint my nails the day before I proposed on purpose.)

We agreed that once we had enough money in our joint account, I could withdraw enough to buy our engagement rings. Teddy didn’t want to know when I withdrew the money to keep the day of the proposal a surprise. So, I withdrew the money a few months before I knew I wanted to propose, ordered the rings, and waited. 

The other thing I’ve been asked is the Eternal Gay Proposal Question: how do you decide who asks?? In our case, we decided by me telling Teddy on our 3rd date that if we ever got engaged I called dibs on proposing. It became clear fairly early in our relationship that I was the one a bit quicker to commit. Although, it only really took Teddy a few months of dating to quickly get over any lingering commitment issues. 

I also just LOVE to plan things and I knew I wanted to plan a proposal. And plan a proposal I did! After going through several options, I settled on the day after Thanksgiving. Family and traditions are important to us as a couple and there’s no bigger family tradition for me than Thanksgiving. 

We stayed with my parents and my brother at an Airbnb farmhouse on some beautiful land. I coordinated with my parents and my brother to fake some “family photos” outside, where I pulled out a ring and got down on one knee. Teddy was so surprised and it was perfect. 

I’ve also been asked how much Teddy knew about this planning and if planning added to or took away from the romance. For those of you that follow astrology, please know my Venus is in Virgo so there is truly nothing more romantic to me than planning. For those of you who don’t, please just know that I express love through coordinating and planning. 

Teddy and I decided that we were ready to get engaged, but that we wanted the actual proposal to be a surprise. And we pulled that off! 

A note on body image and photos: It helps when you can focus on the pure joy in your face. I had a lot of feelings about my the way my neck looks in some of these photos and the way my legs look in this photo. This is just stuff we deal with! I love this photo because it captures joy and that’s what really matters in this whole process.

So, in summary of the Lesbian Engagement FAQ: 
Q: Who proposes?
A: Whichever one of you is better at planning and wants to propose! You can also both propose if you want! Just like everything else in your relationship, the way you get engaged is totally up to you and your partner.

Q: How do you pay for rings?
A: There are as many answers to this as there are couples, but if you want to follow our model: decide on a total budget for each bride and open a joint savings account. 

Thanks for reading! More soon. xo 

Welcome!

Hello! I’m Haley. If you’re reading this, you probably know me personally, but in case you don’t, here’s a little about me. I’m a femme lesbian in my mid-20s. I’ve been with my butch fiancée Teddy since July 2016 and I proposed to them in November 2018.

I decided to start this blog because I’ve basically been planning my wedding my whole life and now that it’s time to actually start planning earnest, I’m realizing how much the wedding industry isn’t built for couples like us. There are a few blogs out there for plus sized brides and there are some vendors with an LGBT friendly stamp, but planning a wedding for 2 plus size lesbians will certainly be an adventure in self-esteem, joy, rage, and who knows what else.

I don’t see couples that look like us on wedding websites. That’s a loss for them because we’re very cute, but it also makes planning a little more difficult. We won’t be 2 brides in dresses and I’m sure as hell not squeezing myself into a tight mermaid dress. Every couple is unique, but our specific kind of unique doesn’t make it into wedding promotional material.

So far, the most complicated part of wedding planning has been how everything seems to be a secret. Prices and budgets seem to be a secret; the dress shopping process is a mystery; and what the hell are rentals?? I have to rent chairs I think?? Will people actually care about wedding favors?? 

So, I wanted to have a place to share my confusion, my triumphs, and my failures as transparently as possible in the hopes it might help someone else in planning or at the very least entertain a few friends reading.

Some things that I want to talk about in future posts include:

-Class anxiety and wedding planning (anxiety about money, class, and family all in one event??)

-Insisting on a body positive dress shopping process (If just one person asks if I’m losing weight for my wedding…)

-Figuring out catering when you have a million dietary restrictions (My wedding will be the ONE EVENT where I won’t have to worry about if there’s secretly cream in a sauce)

-What actually makes a vendor LGBT friendly?

-Having our bridal parties scattered across the country

-Wedding planning with a non-binary partner (What words do we use? Do we talk to extended family about pronouns?)

-How do the Before The Wedding traditions play out with 2 brides?

I’m sure there will be so many more things that I haven’t even thought about yet. I’ll keep you updated!

xo