Our wedding photographer published our photos to a private website a few weeks ago. Like the good wife that I am, I waited anxiously until the new Mr. could view them with me (bless his soul). And as we scrolled through the three to four hundreds of photos, my most overwhelming feeling wasn’t “oh wow, I look so pretty!”. Instead, the thoughts playing through my mind were: “oh man, I have back fat hanging over my dress!” “Ugh, I hate my nose in those profile shots” and “I should have spray-tanned to cover up those tan lines”.
And this kind of destructive self-bashing? This makes me sad. I’m normally a pretty badass, confident, life-list chasing kinda gal. But with my wedding pictures, it’s almost as if I expected our amazing photographer to morph me into someone I am not. Someone with a perfectly dainty nose. Someone who doesn’t exercise outdoors to stay fit. Someone who didn’t get those sunburn blotches on her back on a pre-wedding Savannah getaway with the love of her life. Those are ME. That’s who I am. And I’m pissed at myself for letting those demonic voices poison the happiest day of my life in the slightest.
I’m not saying there weren’t many, many photos in which I feel I looked very pretty. Striking, even. But I was left eating my feelings that night over certain shots that haunted me. What if everyone secretly thought that my dress choice was awful? What if I was ruthlessly judged by the extra skin that crept over the strapless top of my dress if I leaned this way or that? What if I’d just tried harder to eat better and work out more before the wedding? Would it have made a difference in the way I feel right now? If that weren’t enough destructive self-sabotage, my stupid brain continued on with: Should I have not even bothered with a strapless dress? I am getting up there in age, you know. I’m a 36 years old and the crow’s feet and laugh lines show it pretty fucking well. Maybe I overshot my wedding fantasy.
It was that last horrible sentiment that started the ugly-cry.
So why the freakout? Two reasons.
First, there were just SO many pictures of me. As there should be. It’s our wedding, for pete’s sake. But for someone who would much rather be the observer than the spectacle, the amount of ALLUPINYOURFACE and I CAN SEE EVERY PORE is downright bizarre and mildly upsetting. Yep, I am a weird bride.
Or maybe it’s the fact that the Great American Wedding Factory shoves nothing but perfectly posed, styled, airbrushed and photoshopped images of bridal perfection into every social media outlet possible. Seriously, months later I’m still weeding out the Twitter/Pinterest/Facebook/Instagram overload of allthingsbridal from my feeds. I’m positive that I am not alone in feeling that we brides are expected to live up to a SchmyleMeShpretty stereotype that is virtually impossible. That is, unless you’re a twiggy, well-financed heiress with connections to the most expensive venues, florists, caterers and oh, yeah – access to a group of friends who haven’t eaten in the last 10 years, all who happen to be the same height and can each afford $500.00 dresses. Bottom line: To be expected to live up to this standard isn’t just daunting, it’s CRUSHING.
That said, believe me when I say that there is not one thing I would want to change about how our day went, or how it looks in our photos. My husband and I stuck with our wedding vision throughout the whole process and our simple, elegant garden wedding was perfect. Which just proves the point that you don’t need to have a damn succulent-filled peonies bouquet or tulle-strewn, twinkly-lit vineyards for it to be deemed a gorgeous wedding.
And I have no doubt that upon a second and third look (perhaps with a giant glass of vino) I know I will find that there are dozens and dozens of photos of myself that are pleasing enough to my critical eye. They will be lovingly shared with family and friends who will treasure the memories, not for whether or not my dress is pinching my armpit fat, but for the love that we all felt that day. And I know that in time, this moment of freaked-out-ed-ness will pass. Perhaps with many years and a few kids in between that day and this one, I’ll even look at the picture album I’ve yet to create and say… “damn, what was WRONG with me. I look smokin’!”.
Therefore, to the voices in my head that night, this recent bride would like to say “shut the fuck up”. I looked hot. And our wedding was awesome.