Beauty is a big industry, as we all know. A lot of time, money and effort is spent trying to make us feel like we need to spend time, money and effort on the way we look. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the wedding industry; brides are under an enormous amount of pressure to look beautiful, and many go to enormous lengths in their quest to look the best they ever have.
Of course, that effort must be borne with good grace amongst friends and concealed entirely in front of the wider wedding party. Whilst everyone knows that you’ve been up since 4am prepping and preening, it should appear natural and no hardship. The mask should never slip – even if you’re crying, laughing and spending over 12 hours on your feet. It’s an awful lot to bear on any day, let alone on one that is already fraught with emotions, to transform into something other than ourselves.
On most days we can opt out. We can tell people that you were in a rush getting ready, we can blame the rain for ruining your hair, we can sleep safe in the knowledge that you could try harder to be beautiful tomorrow. On your wedding day, there is no such safety net – that is the best you can do. You have spent hours, days, months and potentially hundreds of pounds to look beautiful on your wedding day. You are announcing to the world that this is it. Oh, and of course there will be plenty of photos to capture it for posterity.
When I imagine how beautiful I look on my wedding day, I’m not really imagining myself. I’m imagining Blake Lively. Or someone a bit like her – a leggier, blonder, bigger hair-ed, more flawless version of myself. It doesn’t matter how much of a feminist I am, how much I understand that the beauty and wedding industries are conspiring against me to make me spend money, I still feel that pressure and know that I cannot resist it. I can tell everyone that I just want to look like myself on my wedding day – albeit the best version of myself – and steadfastly refuse to go on a wedding diet, but I know deep down that if I could guarantee that I am happy with the way I look on that day, of all days, then I would do whatever it takes.
There are no guarantees, that’s the problem. You can do it all – the diets, the make-up artists, the hairdressers, the pre-wedding beauty treatments and spa days, the cosmetic surgery – but there are no guarantees that you’ll be happy. That you’ll feel beautiful. There is so much pinned on not regretting your wedding day – the worry of looking back and feeling like it wasn’t good enough and you should have done more. Whether that’s buying the more expensive dress, putting your foot down about a classic car or losing more weight – you only get to do this once, so the saying goes, so don’t regret it.
You’re allowed to feel conflicted, of course. You don’t have to solve all your problems to be allowed to get married (thankfully). It’s not an all or nothing game – you can be a feminist and still want hair extensions. You can understand all the logic and still pay someone to make you look pretty on the day. It’s OK. I wish I could say something more than that, but sadly being a feminist doesn’t give me all the answers. Let’s all just agree that sometimes (all the time) the patriarchy is kind of bullshit and go back to pinning unrealistic wedding hairstyles. It’s more fun if we do it together.
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