New Year, Not So New You: Give The Middle Finger To How Brides ‘Should’ Look

It’s January – that joyless month when we pack up the tinsel, hoover up the pine needles, brush the crumbs from our mouths and invariably promise that this is the year we’ll become new people.

There’s genuine pressure to try the latest fad diet or set some unrealistic resolutions for everyone. But add an impending wedding date into the mix and suddenly the stress of ‘new year, new you’ is very REAL.

Sadly, we live in a society where looking a certain way is placed at a higher importance than almost anything else. It’s more important than how kind you are, how many things you’ve accomplished, what a good friend you or even reaching your career ambitions.

Reaching a goal weight or achieving killer abs is seemingly be placed over and above anything else. We live in ableist, diet (read: thin) obsessed world that holds up one standard of (westernised) beauty. Ooph. And as a result, it’s very difficult to escape the message that maybe you aren’t measuring up.

When you’re planning your wedding it’s normal to want to look your best. But when traditional magazines are full of tall, thin, white women with glossy hair, spray tans and Ken Doll looking grooms, it leaves us thinking that we need to erase all our quirks, lumps and bumps. This is on top of the added pressure from family members or friends with their ‘helpful’ comments on what a bride ‘should’ be like. I can’t tell you the amount of people who asked me if I was really going to keep my pink hair on the big day. *Eye roll* Yes, it was never in question.

At the time we’re about to walk down an aisle to say the big ‘I DO’, you’d think we’d all become MORE secure in our worthiness of love – but because of all noise from friends, family, partners, trad bridal magazines and society – it’s easy for quite the opposite to happen. Just notice how much messaging there is around weddings being ‘perfect’ … ‘the perfect day’, ‘the perfect dress’, ‘the perfect bride’. Yikes.

Just a quick dip onto one of the UK’s biggest wedding platforms threw up several ‘useful’ articles including ‘10 things you shouldn’t do the night before your big day’, ,‘6 details you must include on your invitations’ and ‘5 beauty products you should swap before your wedding day’…That’s a hell of a lot of ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’.

Every time you hear yourself use a ‘should’ sentence there’s usually a sneaky judgement hidden behind it. Because ‘should’ is your inner mean girl telling you that you’re not measuring up. We think we’re motivating ourselves to change by saying things like ‘I should start… I should stop…’ but actually we’re just making ourselves feel bad by reinforcing what we’re NOT doing or being. While ‘should’ can creep into all aspects of our lives, we especially need to stop using the word ‘should’ around what we look like as a bride.

Let’s bust this out. When you tell yourself ‘I should slim down for my dress’ what you’re really telling yourself is this ‘I’m too fat to look good as I am’ and when you secretly think ‘I should wear a dress even though they make me feel uncomfortable’ you’re feeling the societal pressure to conform to (BS) gender stereotypes. And if there’s a voice saying, ‘I should stop dying my hair blue for the wedding’ it’s suggesting ‘I’m too out there for my wedding photos’. These are all demons that we need to stop giving our attention to.

A quick note on diets because the pressure to ‘slim down for the big day’ is SO huge.

If there was a diet on this planet that worked long term then we’d all know about it (even if big companies didn’t want us to know, we have the internet now, so we’d know) but there really isn’t. Brutal, soz. But don’t let that fact bum you out, instead let it motivate you to embrace your awesomeness as it is, right now. Just think about how many hours you can gain back in your life by NOT going on a diet.

These are hours you can channel into something else way more fun like learning that bad ass routine for your first dance and think about how many sad tears at the scales you can save for happy weeps of joy at seeing your love muffin at the end of the aisle (mmm muffins).

I know you might not believe it yet but you don’t need to lose weight to be a beautiful bride. The truth is, you cannot fail to look amazing on your wedding day. Love makes everyone look beautiful and it doesn’t require you to lose a single pound.

If you’re thinking that you need to change yourself to ‘fit the bridal mould’, here’s some things to remember:Your wedding is not about being perfect. It’s about seeing the expression on your favourite people’s faces when they see you in whatever banging outfit you’ve chosen to go down the aisle in.

A wedding is about feeling like your heart might explode with joy while dancing to that song you love surrounded by your best friends.

Your wedding is about looking into that one person eyes and telling them that you’ll take care of them for the rest of your days.

All of these things, plus the million other tiny moments of magic that happen before and on your big day, will all add up so you cannot help but feel like a rockstar. I promise.

If you are struggling to break free from feeling like you’re not measuring up, here’s some helpful advice on getting rid of ‘shoulds’:

🖤 Start to notice when you’re being very critical or using a lot of ‘shoulds’. Stop and take a breath. Often catching these types of thoughts are half the battle.

🖤 See if you can replace the word ‘should’ with ‘could’ ‘maybe’ or ‘perhaps’ which are much kinder and implies that there’s a choice. This gives you the space to decide which is the best direction to go in for your happiness.

🖤 Remember that it’s your day (sorrynotsorry Mum) and therefore you can wholeheartedly express yourself any way you want to. There is no single way to ‘be a bride’, so kindly tell anyone or anything that tells you otherwise to F-off. Being unique is the most rock n roll thing you can do. Own it.

🖤 When it comes to dieting pressures, try and focus more on seeing yourself as the whole of your parts. We are WAY too focused on changing the things we don’t like about ourselves when in reality, we are just as much our eyes as our thighs. Get involved with the anti-diet community, research how much damage dieting does to your mental and physical wellbeing. See the bigger picture and focus on how much your partner loves the whole of your being.

🖤 Make your social media feed a place that makes you feel good. Seek out brides that are giving the middle finger to ‘shoulds’ (check out the #antibridetribe and #rocknrollbride hashtags on Instagram!) When you see how amazing and confident they look, you can know that’s possible for you too. Confidence is like a muscle, the more you test it out, the stronger it’ll be.

🖤 Put boundaries around people who (consciously or not) make comments about how they feel you should look on your wedding day. It is hard but it’s one of the most important things you can do. If you feel you can, tell people how it makes you feel when they make comments (or have someone else around as a buffer during tough conversation who can speak up for you).

🖤 Keep your plans secret from anyone you think might be judgmental. Want to pop out of a faux coffin, wheel down the aisle in a tutu or enter with your beau by your side? Do it babe! Rules are meant to be broken.

🖤 Most importantly, stay SUPER kind to yourself. The world is set up to make us feel that we’ve failed unless we look a certain way – this is LIES, plain and simple. It takes a rebel warrior heart to learn to love yourself. Stay strong bridal warrior.

ABOUT HARRI

Harri Rose specialises in unapologetic body acceptance and creative living. Through her 1:1 coaching, workshops and writing, Harri teaches her clients how to love their bodies, find more self-compassion and discover what food and movement makes them feel good. Say hi on Instagram @harri_rose_. Rock n Roll Bride readers can claim a 15% discount on any of Harri’s coaching packages or workshops, just send an email with the code RNROLL15 to hello@harrirose.com and get your journey started.

This article originally appeared in issue 24 of Rock n Roll Bride magazine, which is now sold out. You can purchase the latest copy here, or why not subscribe to never miss an issue?

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