Of Big & Happy Brides

7 May

Pallavi, a friend of my husband’s from school, married her long-time sweetheart – Nikhil – on a surprisingly warm November evening in New Delhi last year. In the months leading up to her wedding, I came across a frustrated rant by Pallavi on Facebook – she’s never been the slim and petite kind, but suddenly she was feeling the pressure to lose weight and fit into the size standards we’ve set for brides.

Her words struck a chord in me.

I immediately asked Pallavi if she would like to share her frustrations and what she learnt in a guest post for my blog. Why? I’ve seen this happen over and over again, with bride after bride – girls losing all confidence in their body, and internalizing the societal norms of beauty. Trying hard to “fit in”, pun intended, without realizing how beautiful it is to stand out. Now before you start wondering whether Pallavi and I are anti-fitness, hold your horses, and read it straight from the bride’s mouth!

Of big and happy brides - Pallavi

Let me spell it out, right at the beginning – no bride wants to look fat on her big day.

Fat. A word that makes you cringe, doesn’t it?

So we come up with nicer synonyms, which make us less nervous about our appearance – large, healthy, chubby, big-boned. And I am okay using any of these adjectives to describe me, as they’re not far from the truth. I am a big girl.

In fact, I have always been big. School, college, post-graduation days, work – through it all. It has been a word that describes me best. Big girl, big laugh, big size (dress, and foot!) But it didn’t start off this way, as it often doesn’t for most people. Somewhere along the line, we become what we are because of our choices or our fates. For me, it was the former. I belong to a family of mixed body types, all kinds of shapes and sizes thrown in for good measure. So no, I can’t blame the gene pool. Especially, because I distinctly remember when I became a ‘big’ deal (pun intended). The reason I’m giving you this overview about me is simply to prove that I am aware of myself and harbor no illusions whatsoever.

Yet, I wanted to not look fat on my big day. In fact, I hadn’t wanted to look fat for the class 11th farewell, class 12th farewell, the epic conti-party, graduation, post-graduation, engagement and every other significant event of my life. Alas, that was not to be and I always remained just as I am today. Physically to say, not mentally, mind you! Yet, I wanted to not look fat on my big day.

I wonder…why? Why did I feel such immense pressure to be ‘un-fat’ on special moments of my life? Why did I want to lose weight when all my life I have dealt with everything just the way I am? Why was I second-guessing my appearance? Perhaps, it was expected out of me. Perhaps I was influenced by every other bride I had met in past, struggling to lose weight months before her wedding. Perhaps Meena Bazaar doesn’t hold any readymade garments in my size. Perhaps I suddenly doubted myself. It could have been any number of reasons but the point remains – I was trying to lose weight for my wedding for all the wrong reasons.

Now began the real turmoil. Was I really unhappy with my present self? Was I dissatisfied by the way I looked? Reality check: not really. I know there is always scope for improvement. But in the past, every time I had worked at losing weight, I had done it for myself, and not for how I would look in pictures. Although, those would be the icing, the cake was the desire to fit in clothes right off the shelf and be fitter, so I could avoid a knee or heart problem later in life. Even back then, when I was working out, I’d keep a great balance between my lust for good food and life/weight management.

This time around though, I was getting married. A different motive, and suddenly I was under a lot of undue pressure. I started avoiding all the good stuff at home. I should mention here that my home cooked food is one of the best I have ever had. I know everyone must say that, but I have third party testimony to this claim. I also found myself always in a rush once home, just to get my fair share of rest so that I could exercise later. This ate away massively into my family life and the precious time I wanted to spend hanging out with them. All they wanted to do was talk to me enough, spend time with me, before I had to pack my bags and take my smile and jokes to another family. I watched myself as I began putting pressure on my entire family to not treat me with goodies so close to my wedding. And this made them, to be very honest, sad. Feeding me is one of the ways my family shows the love they feel for me. It’s one of their ways of expressing their love.

What I soon began to realize was – I was constantly out of breath and unhappy. I have always put my family first, and this new me was conflicting with my core value. It was not working out for me. I knew I had to put a stop to this obsession. So I did what I do best. I turned around, and became the old me. The one who would enjoy all the goodness of life and yet be sensible about her weight. I pushed away the axe over my head – losing weight for the wedding. I had precious little time at home and things would never be the same once I took the big leap.

This, was my epiphany.

I do not wish to berate anyone who finds weddings the right motivation to achieve their desired fitness goal. For me though, it was not to be. I didn’t like that version of myself at all. Of course, I had the added pleasure of everyone I met asking how the weight loss was going on, how far I had come along, how excited I must be for my new look. Assuming, mind you, that I was dissatisfied with myself in the first place. It was irksome at first, the questions. It made me think- Why me and why now? Why not any other time? Why were these people not as concerned any other time of my life? I mean, I have always been fat so what is different now?

It did bother me because it made me feel guilty – was I not doing enough? Occasionally, I’d bring this guilt up in front of my fiancé, who, might I add, is a fairly square and simple man. He was straight with me and said something he has always believed in – you should be fit and healthy for yourself. No one can, and should, force you into it. All these years, he never had. And he still doesn’t.

So I forged ahead with a smile on my face to all the questions, changing topics and asking them to wait and watch the magic on my wedding day.

And voila! Magic it was.

On my wedding day, I did make for one helluva bride. I had kept my weight, and my spirits. Believe me, when I was getting dressed and looked at myself in the mirror, I didn’t see a fat person. I just saw…me. Pallavi :) I can’t deny that I had been slightly nervous initially, about Nikhil and my family’s reaction to my bridal look. But when I saw the final product, I was immensely pleased. I did look pretty damn good for a “fat bride.”

For all the twists and turmoil I underwent all those months, when I saw Nikhil…I instantly felt silly, for all of it. It had been so simple. It was right there, in front of my eyes, and yet so many brides miss it.

You are getting married, which is so much bigger than your wedding day.

When I saw Nikhil at the wedding, it didn’t matter anymore how I looked, whether I was thin or fat. In those moments, I realized that it all boiled down to – he is here and we are doing this.

I enjoyed my wedding tho-rough-ly. I laughed. I hugged! I posed! I kept chattering away. I greeted everybody who made it. Nikhil and I walked around the crowd and mingled. It was so relaxed and…fun! In retrospect, all the drama seems so unnecessary. The whole time we were walking around, he held my hand. He didn’t seem to care if I was fat or thin. He didn’t say anything about my “bridal look”. He let me cry as much as I needed to in the end, and when I looked like a raccoon, he still didn’t say anything! He just kept holding my hand.

I believe both my husband and I looked great on our big day. Agreed, a few photos came out a bit unflattering, but hey, you would not notice that because all you see is the beaming smile on my face! That’s all that mattered.

Pictures courtesy Apostrography

When I entered Pallavi’s wedding venue on that November evening, there was no mistaking who the bride was. She was the happiest girl in the room! I could spot her smile from a mile away. And what a beaming, radiant smile it was!

It’s how you feel that matters the most. That’s what makes you a beauty on your wedding day.

So let go of all those pressures. Disassociate your wedding with your health. If it serves as a positive motivator to lead a healthy lifestyle, then go ahead and try it out. But if it’s start to feel more a burden than a task you want to do willingly, let it go. You will not DIE if you don’t have a 26-inch-waist on your wedding day. The world will not come to an end. I promise. Just be healthy, and happy.

Have you felt the pressure to look your absolute best on your wedding? What did you do about it?

22 Responses to “Of Big & Happy Brides”

  1. Ritu TheIndianBeautyBlog May 7, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

    this is so heart-warming… I hate how our society puts so much pressure on the looks of the girl, specifically.. the height, weight, skin color- people have to discuss everything… nobody even bats an eyelid when it comes to the guys…
    anyhoo, this is a lot of motivation for a lot of people! kudos!

    And Pallavi- you look super cute in the pics <3 wish you a blessed life ahead!

    Like

  2. Bhagya Bist May 7, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

    Wow.. this seems so much like my thoughts.. I have been a fat girl from my childhood.. but I always loved the way I was.. and now since my engagement got fixed. . I have started to see my flabs in mirror where as wat I say earlier was just my smile.. this is so very inspiring pallavi.. thank you shinjini.. hope to sport the same look on my wedding day too..leaving all the overweight issue aside…;)

    Like

  3. Pia May 7, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    I definitely agree society hates overweight person like me. There are no fashionable clothes available for your size as soon you enter a store the sales assistant will say it on your face. If are planning to have an arrange marriage then your weight becomes the biggest enemy. Clothes and looks only matter in this so called marriage market only for girls.Life is really tough when you are overweight as no one sees anything other than that.

    But now I really do not care what others think. I will life my life as per my own terms.people who are only concerned about appearances only are not required my life anymore.

    Like

  4. sweta May 7, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

    Woww…this blog has been so nicely put up & truly describes wat a bride to be goes thru..
    well i am a bride to be now and its was my fiancé who brushed away all these size & weight issues for me like a joke when he said ” v r Marwari…so anything addition was most welcome…the bigger the better”….mine is an arranged marriage hence meant a lot when he said tht. Big or small , people love u for d person u r and not for ur size…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pooja Sinha Yadav May 7, 2014 at 10:16 pm #

    I was a big bride too, and I can totally relate to how Pallavi felt when she saw Nikhil. It was my wedding day, and i was determined to have a good time and make every moment a memory I’d want to replay everyday. So, yeah I have a wedding album full of unflattering photos, but it takes nothing away from how happy I was that day!

    Nice post, as always! :) Pallavi, you made such a happy bride, bless! :)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. British Asian Bride May 8, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

    Reblogged this on British Asian Bride and commented:
    Check out this inspirational guest post from The Delhi Bride about being a ‘big bride’. A great read.

    Have you felt the pressure to lose weight or lighten your skin five shades before your big day?

    Like

  7. British Asian Bride May 8, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    Loved this post. Have reblogged too. Pallavi is a beautiful bride. Weight has nothing to do with it. Ladies, once we stop allowing other to judge us, they will stop.

    Like

  8. Nandita Kanwar May 8, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

    Thanks for sharing Pallavi’s thoughts with all of us. I have seen so many of my friends experience similar emotions. Cheers to life. As she rightly said, “a beaming smile” is all that takes to make us look beautiful…

    Like

  9. monikabhadauria May 8, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    It’s so true..Love yourself first than anything else. :)

    Like

  10. Pallavi (@That_Desi_Girl) May 8, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

    Wow! For a minute I was so taken aback! You see, my name is Pallavi, and I just got married to a boy named Nikhil :D
    My story though is absolute opposite of this. I have always been petite and small. During the months leading up to the wedding, I was extensively traveling (across China, as a vegetarian too!) and as a result I shrunk further! Before the wedding I had so many people come up to me and comment on how I am losing all charm by losing too much weight and should stop doing whatever I am doing that I was really worried on how I’d look on wedding day. Did the same thing as this Pallavi then. Just smiled and had fun! Guess that’s all any girl can do.

    http://www.thatdesigirl.com

    Like

  11. Wed Me good May 8, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

    I so agree…
    I know noone likes to look “fat” on their wedding day, and one of my closest friends has had weight problems since the beginning but because she was just so happy, it just didn’t matter. Hello- your husband is madly in love with you , you so called ‘fatness’ and everything else that comes with it and that is all that matters ..

    On the flipside i recentlt attended a sangeet where this really pretty girl had probably gone into lengths to fit into this shantanu and nikhil gown…like a really tiny, skinny little gown…the girl fainted on her own sangeet!!! whats the point???

    Like

  12. sweetcherrycoke May 8, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    So true brides should just relax and enjoy thier big day irrespective of anyone,anything. I réaliséd it after mine, and I still regret it.though I was happy, I dint enjoy it as much as I could’ve cause of every other small thing I wanted to be perfect.Leave all aside wind- up relax and don’t think about anything is the mantra :).Just be yourself!

    Like

  13. Shaival May 8, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

    Very well written Pallavi. It is a great read. More power to you girl!!

    Like

  14. Neeti May 8, 2014 at 11:51 pm #

    Oh well, quite well written, and surprisingly i relate to it, even though I am quite the opposite, having an extra slim model like size zero figure!

    The difference is that the whole world talks about the pressures of being fat, as if being thin was the ideal thing. If it were, I would not have grown up with similar pressures all my life to put on weight! I am healthy and fit, but all through my school, college and pre- wedding all i ever heard was “Oh my god you are so thin, dont you eat anything” (I hog a lot mind you- its just my built) and if I were to leave it to society and people around me, Id hate the way i look. In fact, I did hate being slim for most of my growing years, until i realised this is who i really am, this is the way my body is, and i began to like myself for it.

    Wedding (weight) pressures were similar on me despite being the society’s so called ideal body type. So if you leave your sanity in hands of the society, they will always turn around and tell you whats terribly wrong with your looks! I liked the message.. just enjoy being who you are!

    Like

  15. Geetika May 14, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

    Pallavi is married, she looks absolutely stunning !!!! I knew her in school as the chirpiest and fun loving senior :) this is a lovely post! Love how your blog is going places, covering many more aspects of a bride’s heart than just make up and clothes! :D

    Like

  16. Shubhra Naaz May 16, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

    Hi

    Could you recommend any place in delhi where we can go for professional packing of gifts for shogun etc in wedding ?

    Regards Shubhra.

    >

    Like

  17. sehrish! May 23, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

    Hi Pallavi! I am sehrish! I am from Pakistan. Many Congratulations to you! I am close to getting married and I am a person who has never thought what others think throughout my life.But now I have started to realize that people put a lot of pressure on a bride to be,and want her to fulfill THEIR expectations on purely HER day! I never gave a damn about what should i wear and what other people think about my dressing and I do not want to think or do anything like that now! but I just feel helpless at times. even our own mothers tell us to worry about what in laws are going to think!
    I am so RELIEVED to know that you celebrated your big day genuinely YOUR OWN WAY! and didn’t bother about society. It was you and you soul-mate that mattered! and you did it right! And you are so lucky to have such a simple and real man as your life partner!
    Pictures and camera are not more important than your happiness!

    Like

  18. Manali June 29, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    Really impressed by her confidence and determination to not give into societal pressures….. this is how you are supposed to be….. loving and accepting of yourself…. kudos girl…you rock (Y)!!!

    http://secretsofmissdaydreamer.blogspot.in/2014/06/my-wedding-wardrobe.html

    Manali

    Like

  19. Gayatru July 7, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

    she looks pretty. i hope to look similar on my wedding day…being a plus size girl i can co-relate my self with her. what to wear what not to wear. hair updo’s… blah blah….. but looking at her it cheers me up.

    Like

  20. jagdeep July 8, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

    pallvi i love your thinking about wedding,,i hope everygirl accept this.you are so lucky to have such a simple and real man as your life partner!

    Like

  21. rahishsangwan July 16, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

    this is so heart-warming… I hate how our society puts so much pressure on the looks of the girl, specifically.. the height, weight, skin color- people have to discuss everything… nobody even bats an eyelid when it comes to the guys…
    anyhoo, this is a lot of motivation for a lot of people! kudos!

    Like

  22. Neha August 13, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

    wow you just said it all :) and i just know what it means :/ i have been never slim or anything but have a average body type and have loved myself, even my family and friends never complained about it, infact everyone liked me and i have got and still get compliments evrywhr, i am one of the good looking gals or probably was :( cos my would be( though he liked me in starting) has started to discuss this thing with me like daily,,, about my weight, why don i go to gym, how much um gona loose!!! i feel so confused about his behaviour!!! he s very good otherwise!!! but this thing started to kinda put me on a negative zone!!! this might evn afect my confidnce in long run!!! um so confused, i hope i did a right thing :(

    Like

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