Unless you grew up in a cave without fashion magazines, there’s a good chance that at some point in your life, you’ve hated your body and taken unhealthy measures to try to change the way it looks. The truth is, getting married can turn even the most self-confident lady into a shivering, self-loathing mess. Transitions, even exciting ones, are a perfect petri dish for vulnerability. In the weeks before my wedding, I felt about as secure in my appearance as I did when I was a prepubescent sixth grader with blue braces and one boob.
For some hideous reason, modern-day wedding culture dictates that brides are supposed to look one hundred percent perfect walking down the aisle. Like Miss America–perfect: smiley, shiny, taut, tight, gleaming. God forbid there should be a stretch mark, cellulite dimple, split end, chipped tooth, or cracked cuticle in sight. No wonder so many brides obsess over fad diets.
I’ll admit that I’ve bought into much of this stuff at one point or another.
Blame it on the nineties. I came of age in an insane era when Kate Moss was queen. Homeless and on heroin was the look; drowsy, lead-lidded girls with lank hair and gold hoops in their tits who didn’t eat, didn’t cry, didn’t care. For a good twenty years I struggled with food issues: laxatives, bingeing, purging, the works. So sad. In college I had a “nutritionist” who sold me pyramid schemes of vitamins and delivered deadpan lectures on the high glycemic index of a carrot. Beneath her firm tutelage, I’d record my daily meals in a Moleskine: tiny kale salads, one hundred calories of hard cheese, a single slice of Ezekiel bread. Then I’d have a “cheat day” where I’d pig out on Pringles and pizza. My body image insanity died down around the time I met [my now-husband], but reared up in the weeks leading up to my wedding. I couldn’t get over the fact that everyone was going to be looking at me. I thought I should be on some crazy crash diet, but I wasn’t, which stressed me out even more. I guess I was just feeling insecure and vulnerable, trying to control some aspect of the madness.
These days my compulsion to maintain a certain weight is much less crazy than it used to be. Don’t get me wrong, it still flares up every now and then, but way less than before. Sorry to get so Oprah, but the body stuff is a lifelong journey. It comes and goes. Even today, if someone tells me, “You look really healthy,” I’ll be thinking, You mean fat? Try not to use the pressure of your impending marriage as an excuse to emotionally whip yourself. If the mean wedding demon happens to pay you a visit, give him a friendly hello, then tell him to f— off.
Feel Foxy, Not Hungry
Eat, for Fox Sake: Diets beget anxiety; anxiety begets bad vibes. Trust me, you don’t have to lose weight for your wedding. Do you really want your partner committing to a skinny, withered, unrecognizable version of you? No. Most likely he fell in love and knew he wanted to spend his life with you on some random afternoon when you two were lying naked in bed after really good sex, happy and laughing and probably kind of awkward. Your hair was sticking up, your cheeks were flushed, and you were at your most radiant and comfortable and peaceful. You might have even had a little piece of food stuck in your teeth. Bottom line: You want to look like yourself.
Good Shape/Bad Shape: Watch it with the fitness class packs that take place in an air-conditioned room with an instructor on a Bluetooth screaming at you to speed it up. They will most likely turn you into a fidgety, high-stress mess. Better to do something you love in moderation to get in shape: taking long walks, dance classes, bike rides, yoga. Exercising while wearing pajamas in your living room along to Jane Fonda or Richard Simmons is also hilarious.
Save Face: I subscribe to the “less is more” philosophy when it comes to most things, makeup included. My wedding beauty regimen was fairly low-maintenance—although I did get my roots done, eyelash extensions, and—truth be told—a spray tan. Looking back at the pics I DEFINITELY could have done without the tan. Whatever you decide, do your damnedest not to overdo it.
Sweet Dreams: I know you’ve heard it before, but getting at least eight hours of sleep a night will do wonders for your skin, vibe, and peace of mind. If you tend toward late nights and/or insomnia, I recommend turning off all devices by eight p.m., taking a warm bath with Epsom salts, and getting into bed with nothing more than a book by ten. The more you sleep, the better you feel. The better you feel, the better you look.
Rise and Shine: The morning of your wedding, try to stay away from multiple cups of coffee and sugary white flour things that’ll spike your blood sugar. I’m a fan of soft-boiled eggs, oatmeal, berries, tea, and whole-grain toast with almond butter. Take a minute or two to sit silently and gather your thoughts if you can. Beyond the drama, adrenaline, and nerves is the amazing blessing of having found your person. Try to let that sink in on some level.