We hold these truths to be self-evident that all women’s bodies are created equal. We also know it is fundamental truth that no two bodies are exactly the same.
If I still have any readers out there hanging on, my apologies for the extended absence. It’s been about six months so we last chatted, and I wish I had a better excuse than, well, life. I had a New Years resolution to check in weekly at minimum, but alas, 2017 has been a busy, beautiful year so far. I bought a home, I got married, I officially became a stepmom, and our little family grew by two babies of the canine variety.
I want to talk about the stigma that lies behind having the perfect wedding day body. After Jen and I got engaged last July, I, the embodiment of couch potato and tied for first place for most clumsy creature alive (I share the trophy with a baby giraffe), decided I was going to become the ultimate health machine. I purchased head to toe Adidas gear, because you can’t work out without looking the part, right? I bought a full year membership to an at-home fitness program, meal replacement shakes and all. I replaced a meal a day, portioned out my snacks, and strapped on my sneakers for those living room workouts. For about a week.
Time passed. The holidays began approaching, wedding planning got underway, and we started house hunting. Lack of time is never an acceptable excuse not to commit to something, but it’s the only one I had. As the new year approached, I promised myself to kick it into full gear come January. Shortly after that we closed on our house, and I quit my full-time job to focus on my freelance writing. Jen and I settled into our new home, and I made a set of rules for myself to follow as full-fledged, frantic wedding prep crunch time loomed.
No soda. No beer. One glass of wine a week. Shakes for breakfast. One thirty minute workout a day minimum. No fries. Sometime in February, Jen and I sat at our favorite brewery for dinner, and I stared sadly at the menu. My favorite beer was on tap, and the burger and fries were calling my name. The salads at this restaurant are scrumptious, but I couldn’t have fries, so dammit I wanted them. As I lamented over my mixed greens and vinaigrette, Jen looked at me and said, “Would you please just get the fucking fries?”
My fiance then proceeded to tell me that she’s marrying me, exactly the way I wake up and go to bed every day. Every dimple, every fluctuating pound, every zit, and every bad hair day. I then began to really think about why I was trying to become this perfect, unattainable version of myself for my wedding day. I’m not unhealthy, and I’m not unhappy with the way I feel or look, but for some reason I needed more of that. I wanted to look at my photographs from that day and marvel at my own appearance. On top of that, I wanted the attention of everyone else.
What I realized that day was something vital that I didn’t want. I didn’t want to look back at my wedding photos and not be able to recognize myself. I didn’t want to reflect back on my engagement, what’s supposed to be one of the most blissful periods in a relationship, and only remember the misery of deprivation. I was striving for a me that just wasn’t actually me. I like to walk my dogs at the park. Without trying too terribly hard, I usually dabble in my fair share of all the required food groups most days. But sometimes I don’t. I like beer and wine. I love french fries. I put way too much sugar in my coffee, and I could each chocolate croissants for breakfast very single day.
I don’t need to get married with a body I’ve never actually had, and probably never will care enough to have. My fiancé and I love to take walks together, and we also love to go to the bakery downtown, buy six cupcakes, and eat them the same day. So instead, I stopped stepping on that scale. I stopped refusing the fries and worrying about how tight my pants were. I bought my dress exactly the way it fit me the first time I tried it on, and I had dessert every time I wanted to.
So now, instead of looking at my wedding photos and marveling at the Michelle Obama arms in that one pose, I see those pictures and remember how much fun I had with my fiancé when that’s what she was. We were only engaged for a nine months, and we were indulgent as hell. The night before our wedding, I ate lobster mac and cheese, and the next morning I downed two bagels, because that’s exactly what I wanted.
Is this mentality one that everyone should adopt? Of course not. My point is only this: Happiness radiates beauty, so do what makes you happy. If you’re sweating for your wedding, do it because it makes you feel good, not because it makes you miserable, because your engagement is fleeting. I won’t remember how big my thigh gap was or if I had fully formed abs under my dress, but I’ll always remember the Sundays nights we spent splitting bottles of wine and devouring cheese trays while addressing wedding invitations. Love is about the perfect imperfections.