I thought I’d get some cute cards in the mail. Or maybe one of those foil balloons in the shape of a diamond ring. But the most common reaction to my news about being engaged was “Are you doing a diet and working out?” I was shocked that colleagues, family members and even some close friends dared to ask me that. But losing weight and doing a complete overhaul on yourself and your appearance has become synonymous with wedding planning.
The wedding industry magnifies any insecurities you have–from weight, to teeth whitening, to skin complexion, to I’m sure a million other things I didn’t even know I needed to worry about. I’m no stranger to self esteem struggles and body issues and I got sucked into this idea of looking perfect. When our engagement portraits came in, all I could see was how fat I thought my arms looked. I was so hyper-focused on my “problem areas” that I couldn’t see how in love and happy my fiance and I looked in the photos.
I needed an attitude adjustment before my wedding. And with therapy, love from my now wife and positive reinforcement from friends, I began to shift my focus and start loving myself and let go of pressure from bridal magazines to look a certain way. I didn’t find a cure-all. I still have insecurities, but here’s what I learned along the way to stay present and maintain a healthy attitude.
Don’t Worry About Numbers
To answer that first question: Yes, I did work out–but not for the wedding. I was already going to the gym. I didn’t change my fitness goals for the wedding. It’s the same they’ve always been. I work out because it lifts my mood. And I sleep better. I’m not obsessed with a number on the scale or my dress size because I know those things are subjective. Skinny isn’t the goal. Happiness is. I finally realized that I will never be skinny. I’m 5’2″ and a 32DDD. Skinny is just not in the cards for me. I will always have curves. And as long as those curves are toned, then, I’m learning to be OK with that.
Burn Bridal Magazines
I was constantly bombarded with images of women who aren’t real and aren’t brides. These models are airbrushed and nipped and tucked and bronzed and contoured and highlighted and it’s an illusion. I work in production. I know it’s fake. And yet when you’re exposed to the same images over and over again you start to believe it’s true.
But here’s the reality check. Most people don’t have optic white teeth or flawless skin. I’m sure I had some acne that was visible on my wedding day. And I honestly didn’t care. I know my teeth weren’t blinding white so I wore a darker lip and chose an ivory dress to make it less noticeable. But I didn’t fret over it on the day of.
Talk to Former Brides
I opened up with friends who had been married for years and I realized that I wasn’t the only one struggling with body issues. These were women who I think look like models and looked absolutely flawless in their wedding photos and yet they worried about their stomach or their butt or their nose or their arm hairs being too dark. Seriously, people. We have got to stop thinking of new things to feel bad about. The list is long enough.
Find What You Love About Yourself
I love my insanely long eyelashes and bright green eyes. So, I played that up for my wedding. I hired a makeup artist that made me feel like a vintage Hollywood movie star. It made me forget about the things I don’t like–like my not-so-flat-stomach–and helped me appreciate features that I do love.
Remember Why You’re Doing This
I hope one day when I look in the mirror that I will see what my wife sees. And the fact that she loves me just the way I am is exactly what I needed to conquer some obstacles during this whole wedding planning process. You don’t have to change yourself for a wedding. In fact, you shouldn’t.
When I got engaged, like most proposals, it was a surprise. I didn’t stress about what I was wearing or how white my teeth were or if my profile made my arms look fat. I was just so happy and in the moment, completely blissful. You have to get back to that state of mind or the bridal industry will swallow you whole with insecurities. If you remember that your wedding day is about your love and your promises to each other, the stresses about appearances will fade.
Photo by Jennie Andrews