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Woman With Medical Condition Torn After Friend Says She Can’t Wear Long Dress To ‘Semi-Formal’ Wedding

Junior Reis/Unsplash

When we’re invited to a special event like a wedding, we of course want to try to look our best.

But sometimes a valid reason, like health concerns, might get in the way of that, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AItA) subReddit.

Redditor Wedding-Legs felt torn between keeping herself physically comfortable and supporting her friend who would be married soon.

But when the bride started accusing her of not being body positive enough, the Original Poster (OP) wasn’t sure what to do.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for wanting to hide my medical condition at a wedding?”

The OP was diagnosed with Lipedema.

“I (36 Female) have a medical condition called lipedema that causes abnormal fat deposits in my lower legs.”

“Basically, what is supposed to be the narrowest part of my ankle is the same thickness as the widest part of my calf, with a sudden stop just before my foot as though there was an elastic band there.”

“It is very noticeable and has caused many, many remarks from nosy rude people. I don’t wear anything that shows my legs.”

The OP wanted to wear something that would keep her comfortable.

“A friend (34 Female) is getting married in two months. Her dress code is the ever vague semi-formal.”

“I never know what to do with that so I’ve run a few clothing options by her and she has said no to everything so far.”

“She rejected anything with pants as ‘work wear’/everyday. One long dress was too formal, another long dress was too casual. One long skirt was too conservative, another was too ‘beachy.'”

“I finally asked her what was acceptable and she came back with a Google image search for “cocktail dresses”. All were knee-length (at least the ones that made it into her screenshot).”

The OP was later surprised by what her friend accused her of.

“I told her I’m not comfortable showing my legs and she laughed it off and said I ‘need to be more body positive.'”

“When I told her this is a medical issue, not an extra five pounds before swimsuit season, she got upset and said insecurity is no excuse to go against the dress code at someone else’s wedding.”

“She says I’m an AH for wanting to wear something full length which she says would make me stand out and look out of place in any pictures (Not formal pictures, just at the reception. I’m not in the wedding party.)”

“I feel like my legs would make me stand out in an even worse way and I would be uncomfortable the whole time. I’ve considered just showing up in the ‘too conservative’ long skirt but I know that would cause drama if she saw it.”

“AITA for wanting to wear something to hide my medical condition even if it goes against the bride’s wishes?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some said the OP should prioritize her comfort over the dress code. 

“For what it’s worth, when I got married I didn’t give a damn about what anyone not in the wedding party was wearing, as long as it wasn’t a literal white wedding dress. People wore everything from tunics and leggings to long dresses or full suits. I was just happy they came and celebrated with me.”

“I only noticed the absences, as I had had two close deaths in the months before the wedding.”

“If you don’t want to show your legs, that’s your decision, not the bride’s. She can’t decide that you should be comfortable with your medical condition because it’s her wedding, it doesn’t work like that. And she’s not the one who’d potentially be getting stares and uncomfortable questions, you are.”

“I have friends with lipedema, and I know it’s very difficult and expensive to get treatment. Best of luck.” – FunkisHen

“The thing is, no one else is asking these questions. Many people are going to be ‘out of dress code’. You are a guest, not in the wedding party. Find a decent dress you feel comfy in and call it good.” – Ks26739

“‘My medical condition, and how I manage it, is not up for discussion. Whether or not I show my medical condition is for me alone to decide, and trying to deny me my bodily autonomy under the guise of being ‘body positive’ reeks of ableism.'”

“‘Would you tell someone they have to show the damage left from the house fire they escaped? How about the long scar left by an ex-partner that didn’t accept them wanting to leave? Any decent human being would say ‘no’. I deserve to be extended the same courtesy.'”

“Your friend isn’t acting like one. My script may sound harsh, but I have little patience for those that treat people poorly because of a medical condition. Consider this my way of reassuring you that you’ve done nothing wrong.” – DragonCelica

“Dressy solid-colored fabric palazzo pants with a silk shell and a swing jacket and f**k her opinion.”

“I have extremely severe scarring on my lower leg (muscle & skin grafts, reattachment scars) and that’s what I do. Depending on the fabric can be semi-formal all the way to very formal evening wear.”

“I wore that outfit to the Emmys. Looks fantastic and the swing of the pants covers any issues with your lower legs. NTA.” – Any_Scientist_7552

“NTA. Stop running your outfits by her. Whatever you wear is not going to impact the wedding.”

“You’ll have a MUCH better time if you wear something you feel comfortable in. Otherwise, you might as well not go. I’m a firm believer in how much your clothes can affect your state of mind and thus your behavior and enjoyment. If you feel like you look your best, you’ll be more present and engaged, and you’ll have a great time.”

“Get off this sub and find a sub where someone can help you find a floor-length dress that fits ‘semi-formal.’ They exist.”

“Your floor-length dress will NOT ruin her wedding.” – frannyfranfran5

Others offered suggestions for what the OP could wear, without the bride’s input.

“Jumpsuits are very trendy right now, I’m sure you could find one you like. Also, if you’re happy with your arms/back, finding one with a dramatic low back or something could be a way to show off the parts of your body that make you feel confident.”

“Whatever you choose, stop sending pictures to the bride! She should trust the judgment of the people coming to her wedding to dress nicely and stop being so controlling.”

“As long as you don’t show up in bib overalls with no shirt and boots with no socks (legit how a neighbor of my Mamaw’s showed up to her funeral, but that’s life in the sticks lol), you should be fine.”

“I certainly didn’t have time to police what people were wearing at my wedding, but I just wanted to party with my guests and have a good time.” – Cryptogaffe

“A jumpsuit in a color like green or blue would be awesome at a wedding especially with some shoes with just enough heels for comfort.”

“I’m an engineer by training, with a wedding in June, and I plan on wearing a maxi/long dress of some kind. I wear lidocaine patches on my right boob for pain management (a benign tumor on the nerve) do try to avoid V necks, and I have swollen ankles most days which means many great dresses aren’t an option.”

“Find something wonderful to wear!” – equationgirl

“Ok so… I work in fundraising, which basically makes me a dress code expert. Full-length can definitely pass as cocktail/semi-formal. So can pants. I think a dressy jumpsuit is probably your best bet.”

“That said, NTA. It’s a godd**n dress code at a wedding. This is literally not life or death.” – lobsteristrash

“NTA – I just Googled ‘semi-formal pantsuits’ and what comes up looks pretty nice. Some of them are even suggested as ‘mother of the bride.'”

“Don’t ask the bride, just show up in something like these, and if anyone says anything, ‘Hey, it came up when I Googled for semi-formal wear.’ Be bold and confident and go for it. You deserve something that makes YOU feel good.” – fredzout

But a few questioned if the OP should even bother going.

“How important is it for you to be at the wedding?”

“I mean really, she’s clearly communicated what she expects of you and at the same time has clearly communicated that she doesn’t care about your comfort.”

“Just tell her that you don’t feel comfortable and thus to respect her vision you, unfortunately, can’t go. Saves your time, money, comfort, and I’m not sure you’re losing a lot…” – msvivica

“At this point? Just don’t go. Your friend doesn’t respect you. She cares more about her wedding aesthetic than your comfort.” – twizabeth

“This is hysterical, as you are probably the only one who ran your dress options with her before the wedding and she is going to be mortified when 99% of the people who show up don’t meet her notion of ‘semi-formal.'”

“NTA. Of course. Wear what you want, Bridezilla be d**ned, don’t go, wear the most garish cocktail dress with ridiculous leggings. Do what you need and be you.” – RNH213PDX

While the OP thought she might be in the wrong because of attending the wedding, the subReddit insisted that her physical safety and comfort needed to come before looking pretty for a while. Even if they had a strict dress code, the party would still have somewhere who needed it a place to sit down.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit