Thursday, June 2, 2011

Day 68: My 4-Month, Mirror-Free, "Bridal Beauty: Countdown to Gorgeous" Challenge

Tonight is the evening of June 1st. In exactly 4 months I'll be dancing at my wedding reception!  I can hardly wait. :)

To celebrate this notch in the to-be-wed countdown belt, and to really test my commitment to avoiding mirrors, I've decided to put myself up to a challenge-within-a-challenge: I'm going to (loosely, sanely, humorously, and without mirrors!) follow The Knot's "Bridal Beauty: Countdown To Gorgeous."  Check it out for yourself here.

So here's the deal: the BBCTG is a 6-month countdown "guide to looking fabulous by your big day."  It lists 37 separate tasks that brides should complete in the months leading up to her wedding day.  They range from simple (i.e. "Drink lots of water") to more involved (i.e. "If you don't plan on using your regular hairdresser, make consultation appointments with potential candidates.  Bring along pictures of hairstyles you like, even a picture of your veil and headpiece.  If you want to wear your hair in an updo, discuss with the hairdresser how long it will take to grow out your hair so it's the right length for your desired look.").

I know what you're thinking.  Isn't this no-mirrors project supposed to be about taking a step BACK from vanity??  This BBCTG list seems like just another lame, invented-by-the-bridal-industry justification for women to indulge in numerous vain and expensive practices??  This isn't adding up....

I hear you.  I'm thinking it too.   In fact, the BBCTG list immediately reminded me of my favorite passage in the book One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding:

"What the bridal magazines promote [...] is the idea that a bride deserves to be the center of attention for the entire period of her engagement [...].  She deserves to be the center of her own attention, at least.  [...] it is her privilege, her right - indeed, her obligation - to become preoccupied with herself, her appearance, her tastes, and her ability to showcase them to their best advantage.  Being a bride, according to the bridal media's prescription, amounts to a quest for self-perfection, or perfection of the outward self at least."

In light of these words, the BBCTG list just doesn't seem compatible with my project. Indeed, the very last task on the list, intended for the wedding day, commands the unthinkable: "Take a few moments to reflect on the meaning of the day before giving yourself one last once-over in the mirror," (emphasis added by me).

So what do I do?  I am a feminist bride-to-be equipped with the insider knowledge that The Knot's list - and all others like it - encourage vanity and self-absorption (and, of course, the spending of money).  These are all things I want desperately to decrease in my life.  My growing unease with these issues was the primary motivation for this project.  Yet, I am still a bride-to-be.  I am still a romantic.  I am still the little girl who looked at my parents' wedding photos and wondered, hopefully, if I would look as beautiful on my wedding day as my mother did on hers.  How can I merge these seemingly conflicting desires?    How do I stay true to my values without becoming a martyr for this cause?  I mulled on this for a while, and talked to M at length about the predicament.  Together, we arrived at an answer: I needed to just go on and moonwalk on this tightrope, with thoughtful determination, un-reckless abandon, creativity, and humor.

Image by Steph Baxter, found here.
This project is a quest for balance, not extremes (hence the dancing-on-tightrope metaphor, above).  And, to me, it's not enough to only replace wedding-related insecurities with a more holistic perspective (though this is a daunting task on it's own!).  I also need this project to bring with it a hefty dose of fun.  Yes, you read that: having more fun is a core goal of this project.  Despite shunning mirrors, I have no desire for an ascetic life.

So, I'm going to do this thing my own way.  No mirrors.  No going over budget.  Most importantly, no prioritizing of my looks over my relationships, job, or health.   But, within these constraints, I want to do some damn gorgeous-ifying!   I think it's going to be challenging but fun, enlightening, and (hopefully) entertaining.

So, bring on the gallons of water!  Send me pictures of cool wedding hairstyles!  I've got 4 months to tackle The Knot's "Bridal Beauty: Countdown to Gorgeous" list (which recommends starting 6-months out!).  Don't worry about watching me fall off the deep end - I'll be customizing a bit, and commenting snarkily on the ridiculous/impossible recommendations (i.e., 2 weeks before your wedding: "Exfoliate and moisturize.  Soft and silky elbows, hands, and feet are marriage musts." Marriage musts? Oh please.)   I will report back on my completion of various tasks each week, until October 1st.

First up: According to The Knot, at 5-6 months pre-wedding: "If you don't already, start exercising.  A few sessions with a trainer may help to jump start your routine.  Try practicing yoga; the postures build strength and are great tension relievers as well.  You'll look great, feel better, and be less stressed out."  Yoga, sans-mirrors, here I come!  Bring it on.

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  1. I love that you're dictating your own terms on this instead of feeling like you have to prove somebody else's point. Some commenters on my Jezebel piece were criticizing me for wearing makeup during this, missing the idea that I'm not trying to prove something about makeup, you know? (Though I do wish I'd done what you did and learned how to apply it without my little compact mirror, which was within my parameters, but still...)

    Looking forward to your comments on The Knot's "Bridal Beauty Countdown"!

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  2. Thanks Autumn. After advertising this post on my facebook page several friends now want me to do ALL of TheKnot's "Bridal Beauty Countdown" suggestions, so it seems like the pendulum can swing in both directions!

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