By Shalini Wickramatilake
After I got engaged, one of the first emails I received from The Knot was about how to get in shape for my big day. During the past year I have been bombarded with messages saying that I need to look my best- better than I ever have in my entire life- for the wedding. I’m supposed to be thin, toned, have fluorescent white teeth, long nails, flawless skin, and voluminous hair, because what kind of bride wouldn’t put effort into becoming perfect for this once in a lifetime event? Who would want to marry a woman who didn’t look like a photoshopped cover girl? Regular-looking girls don’t deserve love, right?
But what if I don’t look like a model on my wedding day? What if I just look like… me? I’m not perfect, and to the best of my knowledge, my flaws are part of what my fiancé loves about me. Rather than reverting back to my old ways of restrictive eating and over-exercising, and obsessing over my “flawed” face in the mirror, I decided to live out my engagement as if it were any other phase of life. I vowed not to give into unrealistic expectations of brides, which are ultimately fueled by the beauty industry’s desire to make money off of our insecurities. I knew that I couldn’t live a life dedicated to self-acceptance, but make an exception for my wedding.
My fiancé has been the biggest supporter of my journey toward self-love and positive body image, and if anyone didn’t want me to lose weight for the most important day of our life together, it would be him. As a child, I always envisioned myself looking perfect on my wedding day. But then, I also envisioned myself looking perfect at prom, my college graduation, the first day of grad school, my first interview, and on the day I fell in love. I didn’t look perfect for any of those special events, but my memories of them are no less fond and fulfilling. Ultimately, it won’t matter what I look like on my wedding day. I will likely be filled with such joy and excitement that something as inconsequential as my waist size will be the least of my worries.
We spend so much time and effort focusing on what we look like. I have enjoyed my engagement so much because I haven’t gotten too wrapped up in the superficial details. My ability to brush off questions and comments about my weight with regard to wedding preparation has become a source of pride. Instead of crash dieting or working out 6 days a week, I have maintained my usual wellness routine (eating what I want and exercising when I want), and I’ve been much happier because of that. I would much rather enjoy this exciting time with my fiancé and other loved ones, celebrating a relationship that is founded in something much deeper than looks. I will be the happiest bride as I walk down the aisle next month, looking into the eyes of the man who finds my happiness to be the most beautiful thing in the world.