The crazies have been hitting full-force lately. Wedding crazies. Life crazies. And, for me, the I’m-not-pretty crazies. I didn’t realize it until all the self-deprecating language crept back in, despite working so hard to move beyond it and keep it at bay. The “I’ve gained ten pounds” panics have been making headway, which only hit me when Meg left this comment on my engagement picture post the other day.
“I'm going to make you officially shut up about ever saying anything bad about your looks ever again. CROWS FEET? Whatareyoueventalkingabout? That's face scrunching. ALL THAT OTHER STUFF YOU SAY ABOUT YOUR LOOKS? WHAT? Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately? Sof*ckingprettytheend.”
Um, yes. And, if I remember correctly, I sent a very similar wake-up message to my soc*ckingprettytheend girlfriend a few months back. And I ended my email with the line “Now I'm going to save this email to remind myself when the inevitable crazies hit on my end.”
Well, the crazies have hit and I went to re-read that email. And it helped. It was a reminder that I was braver and smarter about things after my boudoir photo shoot in which I (very privately) pranced around in unmentionables and felt beautiful. It was a reminder that I am still this brave and smart, when I let myself believe it. So, as some of you head into wedding season and as I continue to battle with general life demons, I thought that sharing this “shut up you’re awesome” email and photo-prep advice from my wiser six-months-ago self might be helpful for someone other than just me. Just replace the word “boudoir” with “wedding” and I think there are a few glimmers of wedding-crazy truths for a few of us.
This is saddest line I will ever type - I've felt fat every single day of my life. Period, end of story. I will always be a fat girl, even though I'm healthy now. It's sick, and it’s the mental battle I fight each and every day. Somehow, I put it so far out of my mind at the boudoir shoot that it didn't register. But I'm still "fat." Which is insane. You've seen me. I'm not fat anymore. I just have a sick leftover mentality. So starve the sickness on your wedding - not by literally starving yourself, but by treating yourself well and therefore shutting it out. By appreciating you and giving yourself (non-food) presents and taking care of your health. I swear, in combination with your partner and wedding day joy, that's all you'll need to feel like the best version of yourself that has ever lived.
I want to shake you until you see how beautiful you are, even though I know it probably won't work. It shouldn't surprise me any more that beautiful women don't see themselves clearly, but you're so pretty. Really and truly. At the enviable weight you are. When I met you, all I could think was how stunning you looked. Not five pounds from now, not with different hair, not with different makeup - just now. Stunning, just now.
I know you know it. But I also know there's a difference between knowing and knowing in your core. You said you exercise and eat healthy food and it shows. And dieting deprivation only leads to binging and unhealthiness later, so you know you’re on the right track with healthy choices. And some days you’re happy with yourself and some days, without any seeming change in context, you’re not at all. I just wish there were a way to make the "happy with yourself" stick during all the contexts.
I don't have any earthshattering advice here as you prepare for wedding-looks fears and wedding photo fears. But I do know the panic I had to face down before going into my photo shoot. You've seen my Facebook photos. You've seen that they, um, aren't really all that flattering. Even at my slimmest, I'm not usually photogenic. When I gain weight, my features get lost. I'm not one of those women who can be large but pretty. [Ed note-to-self: shut up Becca, you’re sof*ckingprettytheend]
I'm better now than I have in a while, but all the issues are still here, ready to rear their ugly head. And I knew that, so I used the boudoir shoot to try and combat those issues and calm me the f*ck down about the wedding. And it worked. So here's my "wedding routine" advice via my boudoir-shoot prep experience. It's nothing special, just sensible living and a few tiny boosts that made me FEEL amazing going in. No dieting. No self-hatred. No nothing special. Just a focus on feeling great.
I started my process by searching out a ton of boudoir photos and found that the best ones were all where the women felt confident - even at reaaaaaally heavy weights. Not kidding. 100% true, cross my heart. The best set of photos I found were of a strong, confident, larger women who rocked it. And so, I started chasing confidence and not a perfect body or crazy dieting. Just me, as I am, but at my best. It made all the difference in the world.
- I was pretty strict about my long-term Weight Watchers monitoring for the two months before. I stuck with simple non-processed, non-hormone foods in sensible portions during the week, and allowed myself either one splurge night on the weekend (dinner and drinks) or two nights of drinks. Yeah, you get splurges on Weight Watchers and I used them all and loooooved them. I think the splurges were key.
- I exercised 4x/wk, bumping up my toning. Not a big shift (ok, maybe a shift from 2 or 3x per week)
- I cut alcohol and sodium for five days before the shoot (Monday - Friday). The sodium near killed me, but the steamed veggies, garlic, and basic chicken thing was do-able for a few days.
- Facial 10 days before. My skin is always problematic, and I splurged. Yes I did, because it gave me confidence. I also had my eyebrows waxed, so there.
- I gave myself a mani/pedi the night before and stayed in with tea and a movie and snuggles. It felt nice.
- I got fake eyelashes. Turns out, I can't apply them worth sh*t, but my hairstylist could.
- Yeah, I got a hairstyle that day. Whatever. It was worth it to not mess with my nervous blowdrying attempts with my fine finicky hair and the eyelash application was a free bonus.
- My girlfriend did my makeup that morning while I drank wine and listened to Jason's mix CD. It was divine and I relaxed into the moment.
- I decided I didn't give a damn and wanted to have fun. And I did.
- I had another glass of wine.
I looked amazing. I've never looked like this before or after, and it wasn't because my body rapidly shed weight and became “perfect.” In fact, it didn’t change all that much at all. But I felt better, and so I looked better. It was just the feeling of treating myself well, treating myself with a few not-super-expensive niceties, and some non-deprivation, healthy eating in the weeks beforehand.
Little old ordinary me was transformed with basic prep and the simple feeling of believing in myself and being willing to have fun. That's it. And that’s how I know that you'll be transformed on your wedding too. I didn't even have the emotion of a wedding behind me, just a sensible approach and a great photographer. Please believe me. You're beautiful already. And on your wedding day, your have the added bonus of joy that will transform any ordinary bits into their most extraordinary beauty, lit up from the outside in.