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!
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.