I told you that if you were good I’d have a special surprise for you and here it is. It’s a guest post by Kate who writes one of my favorite blogs – Eat the Damn Cake. She writes about beauty, body image, womanhood, dessert, and her upcoming wedding. She is always saying something insightful or witty or both. Have fun:
I had a really interesting dream last night. In it, I was looking through a photo album of pictures of myself. They were pictures taken annually at a May Day celebration, and I was almost always laughing, dancing, or talking in them. I was never looking at the camera. It was as though someone had followed me through the years, and then, randomly, handed me the product. I didn’t really want to look at the pictures. I hate the way I look in photos.
In the first one, I was caught at a terrible moment, at an almost shockingly bad angle, my face contorted—how I usually end up looking in photos. But as I flipped through the album, I saw that I looked completely different in every shot. Sometimes I was almost pretty. Sometimes I was stunning. But even when I was stunning, it was not in a way that fit the usual qualifications. I can’t explain. I was stunning and strange-looking and awkward all at once. Nothing about me was consistent.
I woke up thinking, “Well done, subconscious. Good show.” (Because I talk to my subconscious like that butler guy in Batman.)
Which is part of what makes my upcoming wedding challenging. Not the fact that I impersonate the butler guy (he has some really easy name that I’m totally forgetting right now and could definitely look up in like two seconds if I wasn’t so lazy). Not the seating charts and the color of the hydrangeas and the gifts for the wedding party that I probably won’t remember to buy until the day before— not the details of coordinating this gigantic event. But the off-balanced arrangement of the time involved in the whole thing. Months and months of preparation for a single, breathless, panicked, thrilling, frightening day. A day in which I marry a guy who I’m still shocked and elated that I managed to find. But also a day in which I am supposed to be perfect. I am supposed to be immortalized. The one day every little girl dreams of. Ha! Kidding! Most of the former little girls I know, even if they do harbor such secrets, will swear against the allegation.
As a little girl, I didn’t dream of a big, white wedding. Or a big, fat, Greek wedding. Or any wedding at all. I dreamed of writing a book set in another world, where there were endless redwood forests and flashing blue streams, and where a half-blood princess turned huntress would lead the demon army into glorious battle. Later, she would fall in love with a gentle, powerful, nervous mage man. And I’d get to cast the movie. I definitely wanted to fall in love. I wanted that a lot. But who would bother to fantasize about wedding décor when they could imagine dragons with soft white bellies and golden wings? (I’ll leave that question unanswered, to foster a greater sense of mystery.)
It’s a good thing I didn’t come into the whole wedding planning process with a perfectly intact and well-preserved fantasy about how it should all happen. Because I learned in about one second flat that I’d better look amazing, and I’d better make sure everyone has an incredible, fantastic, overwhelmingly great time. And if I had to combine that with my own history of internalized pressure about the event, I’d probably spontaneously combust. Which can’t be good, any way you figure it.
Especially since I can’t count on myself to look any certain way for an entire day, let alone like a beautiful fairytale princess. And I’m not even consistently good at being around people. Some days I’m funny and social. Other days I stare blankly at people for five seconds too long and then finally say, “What?” and force a smile.
So there are no guarantees. And a wedding is a day when you want everything to be a guarantee. Because you just spent 10 months planning it. Or two years, in some people’s cases. And because you’re supposed to be beautiful. And because there are a photographer and a videographer following you around with cameras, capturing you forever. And your new family is supposed to think you’re an angel. And supposed to turn to one another and say, “He did good,” of your new husband. And since many of them won’t know too much about you, except that you write some little girly blog about cake, you’ll have to prove how “good” you are by how beautiful you look. And we can all try to pretend that this is not what’s happening, but come on: it’s happening.
A wedding makes an attempt to capture you, as a whole person, in a single moment. It can’t. It will inevitably fail. I am unphotogenic, and I will look bad in my wedding photos (except for maybe a few). I will probably be awkward with some of the guests, and not know what to say. I’m not stereotypically bridal. I’m not stereotypically womanly. I won’t be immortalized as the perfect blushing bride. I’ll be gawky, and one eye will be shut while the other is open, and my smile will be so big it’ll distort my face, and my future children (if I have them) will look at the photos one day and be like, “Yup. That’s mom. Doesn’t she kinda look like a bug in this one? Like, a grasshopper?”
And the day after my wedding, I’ll wake up, fully married, and look in the mirror, and I don’t know what I’ll see. I never really do. But whatever else I look like, even if it fails in every way to meet the strict standard of wedding-hyped beauty, I fully intend to look really, really happy.