Editor’s Note: Although I wrote this post last week, I was a bit behind on my blog reading and missed the announcement for Caitlin’s (of Operation Beautiful & Healthy Tipping Point fame) “Change the Way You See, Not the Way You Look” week. It’s going on this week, August 2 through August 7, as a way for bloggers and readers to think and talk about body images issues. I am participating and submitting this post! Check out Operation Beautiful and Healthy Tipping Point for more information or if you’d like to participate.
Remember this scene from the movie Old School? Mitch and Nicole go have coffee at the diner, and the waiter gives them their meal for free, because Mitch, of course, is The Godfather of the fraternity the guys have started on campus. My favorite part of that scene is when Nicole leaves the diner in a huff, and the waiter leans down to Mitch and says, “Love. It’s a mother-fucker, eh?”
So why am I bringing this movie up? Because today I want to take a time-out from DIY, guest lists, butterflies and rainbows and talk about the pressures we brides feel to look our best on our wedding day. What does this have to do with Old School? Why, this, of course: “Self-esteem. It’s a motherfucker, eh?”
The bridal industry, and the world at large, it seems, puts a ton of pressure on brides to look our best on our wedding day. Every bride—EVERY one—is trying to lose 10 pounds, get in shape, or is generally worrying about how she’ll look on her wedding day. Everywhere you look in the bridal industry, you can’t escape it: from the uber-thin models wearing gorgeous dresses in the magazines, to the popular wedding websites with entire sections dedicated to “looking and feeling your best,” and even to a whole crop of bridal boot camps now gaining momentum in the fitness industry. “Lose 10 Pounds!” “Slim your thighs!” “Tone your arms!” These are just a few of the headlines you might see on a popular wedding website or in a wedding magazine. I think the worst sort of pressure, though, is the type we put on ourselves. We’re inundated with these images and articles and boot camps and we suddenly feel we have to be perfect.
And while there’s no doubt that every bride wants to look and feel her best on the big day, this constant pressure is sometimes, I think, too much. I’ve been really struggling with my self-esteem lately, and I know others have too. I never used to be a person who was obsessive about her weight. Sure, I might be a bit pudgy around the edges, but I generally make good food choices, enjoy quality exercise, and like to yoga it up now and then, too. Lately, though, I’ve been all-consumed by a lot of the following thoughts: What will I eat? When will I eat it? When can I get to the gym? How much weight have I lost? What if my dress doesn’t zip? Must. Work. Out. I’m so tired I could cry. Ugh, I look and feel fat today. What’s for lunch? How many calories are in that? Get. To. The. Gym.
It’s a slippery slope, isn’t it? One day, you have a pretty healthy perspective on your weight. Sure, you might feel bloated some days, but generally, you like the way you look and you feel good about where you’re at. Pretty soon, though, you can become someone you’re not. Someone who worries constantly that she looks fat. Berates herself internally for not working out enough, or eating too much at dinner one night.
This, friends, is not who I normally am. I am not the girl who is obsessed with exercising, calorie counting, or the like. I am the girl who loves good food and wine. Who ran a marathon. And who, two days ago, decided she had had ENOUGH of the pressure she was putting on herself.
First, I read this. And thought, Ah yes, how profound. She looks lovely on her wedding day, and her weight was the furthest thing from her mind. And her post was directly intended for people like me, who were suddenly feeling the pressure a little too much.
Then, I talked to a good friend. Who told me to step back, re-evaluate, and stop beating myself up about my weight and my looks and start celebrating myself for the things I’ve accomplished.
And then, I went shopping. I found some beautiful undergarments for my wedding gown, a lovely dress for my shower, and a gorgeous, sexy number for our rehearsal dinner. In a size 6. And only then did I realize how ludicrous my self-deprecating thoughts had become.
So, girls, I am here to spread the message: stop beating yourselves up. You’re going to look lovely on your wedding day, no matter how much you weigh. If you’re not where you want to be at, not a big deal—being heavier than you’d like to be on your wedding day will not, in the least, detract from the huge commitment you’re about to make to your partner or the love and joy you’ll share with your family and friends. So let’s try to remember that from now on, ok? Myself included. And when you need a pick-me-up, go visit one of my favorite websites: Operation Beautiful. Consider this YOUR Operation Beautiful post-it note, girls—you are ALL beautiful, no matter what your shape and size.