The Ugly Duckling Bride

OK, hive, it’s time to get real. I don’t often write serious things because they’re boring, but I figured I should get this off my chest: being a bride makes me feel damn ugly. (If you’re tired of hearing girls complain about their looks, you should probably click away now.)

Screenshot from Mean Girls / Image via cinema-24.blogspot.com

Hot chicks complaining about their looks is the worst thing ever.

Every wedding plan I make somehow reminds me of my looks. There are the obvious things, like dress shopping, looking for photographers (and thus thinking about how I’ll actually look in the photos), and booking a makeup pro. But other things are worrying me too. Like am I gonna look fat in our wedding video when I’m doing my sweaty rendition of the “Cha Cha Slide“? Will I have a hunchback while we say our vows and everyone’s looking at me from the side? Is the next vendor I meet with going to think I look like I belong in the eighth grade instead of in a wedding dress? Are my teeth too yellow? Is my skin too pale? Are my arms too fat? Are my feet too big? Are my nails too small? (Answer: yes. I have perfectly circular nails. It’s strange, and every time I’ve ever gotten a manicure, the manicurist has taken one look at my nails and literally said, “Oh my!”)

What is it about this wedding that seems to have wiped out what little body confidence I once had? When I look at brides in magazines, all I think is that I’m not pretty enough or thin enough to be a bride. I also don’t look old enough, and I’m not fancy or glamorous enough.

When I tried on dresses at David’s Bridal (which I’ll discuss in another post), my consultant or whatever they’re called was about my age, except she was thin and pretty, and as she helped me into the dresses (some of which wouldn’t even zip) I got embarrassed. I started thinking, “How dare I try on a wedding dress when I look like this?” Why couldn’t I look like this waif of a bridal consultant instead? Then I started feeling bad for Mr. Unicycle that he has to marry someone who looks so childish/frizzy haired/fat armed in a wedding dress. I even felt bad for Mr. Unicycle’s parents that their son has to marry an ugly duckling. I wanted to issue a huge apology to the world—to Mr. Unicycle (and his parents, for that matter) for not being the bride they pictured when they pictured his wedding, to my photographer and videographer for not having better looking subject matter, to the bridal consultant who tried to be tactful when she slipped that little piece of “modesty fabric” into the back of the dress that wouldn’t zip.

clips+o

Image via mudlane.blogspot.com

See those clips on the back of the dress? I didn’t need ‘em.

But then I was all “Hold up, grrrl. You’re apologizing for not looking good enough? That ain’t right.” (Yeah, I got ghetto fabulous again.) How could I not be pretty enough to be a bride? Mr. Unicycle proposed to me, which means he likes me just the way I am. I’ve worked for years to accept my physical appearance—going through the big change helped a lot—and I was finally getting to be pretty OK with my looks by the time I got to college. Why was this wedding bringing back all those feelings I thought I’d worked through?

Here’s the skinny—or the fat, or the ugly—the wedding industry is an industry, which means it exists to make money. Liposuction, airbrush makeup application, bridal boot camps, eyelash extensions, etc. all cost moolah. The bridal industry and the cosmetic industry realized they could team up and prey on the insecurities of brides who want their “special day” to be perfect. This isn’t exactly a groundbreaking realization, and yet I need to point it out because even someone as cynical and “with it” as me fell prey to this manufactured self-discontent.

hallowe07

Personal pic

This is a pretty ugly picture of me. I have a double chin, gaps in my teef, and virtually no eyes. And you can’t tell that I’m dressed as the late, great Amy Winehouse, so that faux birthmark just looks like I have food on my face or something. But I love this pic anyway because Mr. Unicycle and I just look so happy. I hope that if I do look ugly in my wedding pics, at least it’s this kind of ugly.

So did my a-ha moment erase my insecurities and make me realize that I’m friggin’ hawt and any wedding dress would be lucky to hug these curves? Umm…no. I’m still worried that everyone’s going to think I look like a child bride, or that I’ll look more “cute” than “sexy” in my wedding dress, or that I should have lost a few more pounds before daring to walk down the aisle. But I realize now that it’s just the wedding industry telling me these things, and I’m going to try to remind myself of that every time I have one of these thoughts. Because, really, all brides look beautiful (they’re friggin’ brides, for Pete’s sake), and there’s no reason that I should have to change myself just because some dude put a ring on it.

Weigh in: Do you think the wedding industry puts undue stress on brides to look perfect? What’s the best way to combat these feelings?

BLOGGER

Mrs. Unicycle

Location:
Chicago, IL
Wedding Date:
June 2012

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  1. Member
    Merelton 352 posts, Helper bee @ 1:38 pm

    Oh my gosh. First off…YOU ARE NOT UGLY. You’re beautiful and better yet…you don’t look like every bride out there in the magazines and ads. You’re you…and that’s what makes you unique and gorgeous.

    That said…I know what you’re saying. I first went to try on dresses at DB and nearly flipped when I first saw myself. I wasn’t prepared, I suppose, for the mirror-less dressing room…so on top of being nervous about putting on my first ever wedding gown, I had to get my first glance in front of an audience! Yikes!! And I felt flushed and horrified to see my not-done-up face and blah hair in a magnificent dress. There is definitely a lot of pressure on a bride to “look your best”. I’m trying hard to take off a few lbs before the big day…not very successfully, I might add. So slowly…I’m trying to convince myself that my FI is marrying me for me, not the bestest most beautiful version of me. So he gets me… It feels nice to take the pressure off yourself.

  2. Member
    danicalifornia 980 posts, Busy bee @ 1:43 pm

    My goodness after all that self-bashing I want to see a pretty picture of you and not just your worst ;)

    I understand your insecurities, thanks for being honest. I think everyone hates something about themselves, and nobody is perfect.

    I really have not seen pictures of an ugly bride. You can just see the joy and happiness written all over their faces.

  3. Member
    soontobemrsjohnnyb 259 posts, Helper bee @ 1:50 pm

    Well, first off, I am sure all of us that aren’t models and even they have their day feel the same way about something about ourselves.

    But let me tell you, coming from a plus sized bride, that will never be carried over the threshold, and was so afraid to get photos done because I am WAYY prettier in person (insert laugh!) that the most amazing thing about our wedding day is the transformation that takes place.

    You are beautiful to your SO, and your family and friends. And let me tell you, you are very easy on the eyes from my perspective too!!

    But the transformation that happens on your wedding day makes you even more beautiful. You start to glow from within and everyone can see it…. noone will be able to take their eyes off of you! And you will feel it too……
    Trust me, I never thought I would be this big bride, but I am and I had to accept that. And on my wedding day, I never felt more beautiful….. and everyone could see that. They kept remarking about my “glow”.
    That showed up in the pictures as well. So, of course there are a few photos that I’m like Oh God, that one won’t see the light of day, but for the most part, I’m just amazed at how happy I look, like you in your pic.

    I know this was long winded, but I’ve been there and it’s amazing how all of that vanishes on the actual day.
    You will be ravishing, I promise! Keep your head up, shoulders back and never let go of that wonderful feeling of awe!!

  4. Guest Icon Guest
    Melissa, Guest @ 1:53 pm

    Oh I am a good 20 lbs heavier than when my husband and I met and I tried to shed weight before the wedding but I wasn’t as dedicated to weight loss as I was to other things. I have double chin in my pictures but I still look awesome because I am smiling my face off. You will be too, I promise.

  5. Member
    Rubies 887 posts, Busy bee @ 2:20 pm

    I definitely feel this way. If you go to some of the wedding blogs its a lot of 7 ft tall, perfect skin, perfect teeth, part-time models whose hair is mindblowingly perfect, clearly, at all waking hours…okay, of course, that isn’t true, we all have flaws, but it certainly feels that way sometimes.

    This is actually what I LOVE about Wedding Bee, every girl on here is different, different body types, different skin tones, different cultures, it really shows the variety of brides out there.

  6. Member
    cluelessbride2b 77 posts, Worker bee @ 2:40 pm

    I cried the first two times I tried on dresses. I was glad i went by myself. It was like every insecurity I ever had was enlarged by a dress that was a size 2 really bridal consultant? at the time I was a size 10 street clothes so probably just don’t bring me dresses I might rip….

    Advice I will give to every bride who is looking for a dress and not feeling oh so fabulous, RESEARCH you don’t have to buy from the first place you go. researching and watching many a episode of say yes to the dress I actually went prepared for the 3rd time and knew what style worked with my body. They will tell you that they all look good but spend some time in that room by yourself and don’t feel pressured to buy something just cause it fits.

  7. Member
    janie-janie 3248 posts, Sugar bee @ 3:03 pm

    I agree with soontobemrsjohnnyb — you will feel differently on your wedding day.

    usually my photos turn out pretty bad. I have a big forehead and a double chin, thick ankles (I wore a shorter dress)…..the list goes on and on. but on my wedding day, the hair and makeup girls nailed it. I felt beautiful!

    also, I did have a few photos that were less than ideal. but I just laughed it off. you know which photos I will print and/or show to the public? only the good ones!

  8. Member
    jaguar 6145 posts, Bee Keeper @ 3:16 pm

    I am super self conscious being a plus sized gal, but you know what? I loved my wedding day look. Absolutely loved it. You will totally feel the same!

  9. Member
    jneden 642 posts, Busy bee @ 4:15 pm

    I felt extreme pressure to look perfect on my wedding day! Everyone kept saying that I was going to be such a beautiful bride and it made me FREAK out!!! to the point that my face broke out HORRIBLY (not exagerating) bad, I developed a skin rash, and several other health issues. I had to see a dermatologist to help my issues and they still weren’t completely resolved by the wedding day…but I can honestly tell you that when you make that important walk and your almost husband takes your hand and tells you that you look beautiful everything else melts away and your in the the most amazing bubble! That’s all that matters! I think you’re beautiful and I guarantee your future hubby does too! Enjoy every minute of your wedding planning! You are going to be a beautiful bride!!!!

  10. Member
    futureMFG 283 posts, Helper bee @ 5:09 pm

    I don’t know what you’re talking about – this is an adorable picture!!!

  11. Guest Icon Guest
    Melissa, Guest @ 5:51 pm

    This is a post that I needed to read. I went to the bank today and was talking to our teller about our wedding plans. I started to ramble about not having enough money and not losing weight as quickly as I’d like to. She reached her hand across the way to mine and said Melissa, the most important thing to be on your wedding day is HAPPY.

    I am in grad school learning how to psycho analyze people’s negative thoughts, and here I am hearing the EXACT message I need to hear from my wonderful bank teller. I can only speak for myself but one thing that has gotten away from me is that since we’ve been planning our wedding I have focused on the negative…my arms are fat, what if I have back fat hanging over my dress, what if our chicken served is too dry, what if I have a double chin in my pictures. You know what…I don’t care anymore, because I’m pretty sure that if I am rockin the back fat out the back of my dress ha, that is the back fat my fiance proposed to!

    Wedding Shows and websites have done a fantastic job helping women to feel inadequate on one of the only days where not matter what-everyone will be admiring her beauty. I’m kinda sick of it this whole not measuring up thing. There is a lot of pressure to look beautiful yes, but does that make the marriage long lasting no…being happy does. With that said, I think I’m going to go get a cookie. :)

    Good luck Bees, it’s a harsh wedding world, but we got this. Cheers to the double chins once and for all!

  12. Member
    irish.melis 41 posts, Newbee @ 5:52 pm

    This is a post that I needed to read. I went to the bank today and was talking to our teller about our wedding plans. I started to ramble about not having enough money and not losing weight as quickly as I’d like to. She reached her hand across the way to mine and said Melissa, the most important thing to be on your wedding day is HAPPY.

    I am in grad school learning how to psycho analyze people’s negative thoughts, and here I am hearing the EXACT message I need to hear from my wonderful bank teller. I can only speak for myself but one thing that has gotten away from me is that since we’ve been planning our wedding I have focused on the negative…my arms are fat, what if I have back fat hanging over my dress, what if our chicken served is too dry, what if I have a double chin in my pictures. You know what…I don’t care anymore, because I’m pretty sure that if I am rockin the back fat out the back of my dress ha, that is the back fat my fiance proposed to!

    Wedding Shows and websites have done a fantastic job helping women to feel inadequate on one of the only days where not matter what-everyone will be admiring her beauty. I’m kinda sick of it this whole not measuring up thing. There is a lot of pressure to look beautiful yes, but does that make the marriage long lasting no…being happy does. With that said, I think I’m going to go get a cookie. :)

    Good luck Bees, it’s a harsh wedding world, but we got this. Cheers to the double chins once and for all

  13. Member
    Katielee 303 posts, Helper bee @ 6:25 pm

    I too felt convinced that I would be an ugly bride. I am 40 and plus sized. After looking at the magazines I went to DB and the consultant asked me what I liked and I said nothing form fitting, something moo-moo like. She laughed and brought me some soft flowy dresses. I hate wearing dresses the make me look like I am about to give birth to at least twins. So I tried on a few and found one that wasn’t horrible. I was going to get it but my mom wanted to see me in it first.
    Sorry rambling here. So I went to a different DB and had a new consultant. She noticed I wasn’t gushing or all that excited. She asked me how I felt in my dress. I told I guessed I liked it. She asked if I would try on a few more then decide. The first one looked horrid on me (I have seen it look fab on some brides posting on here) She put me in the next dress and I didn’t even look in the mirror. I was convinced that it was gonna be just okay because no matter what I was going to be an unattractive bride. Why bother. She said I think you should look at yourself. I turned to the mirror and I did not recognize the woman in front of me. I am not bragging and I know people would argue, but I started sobbing and saying OMG I look beautiful!!! (yes still month later I cry about it) Needless to say she just sent to alterations last weekend and I miss her. She stays at my mom’s so I don’t have the urge to try it on again. Okay I am not thrilled about my arms, but it didn’t matter. I felt like I should be in one of those magazines, finally. I know once my hair and make-up are done I will be cover worthy, if only in me and my FI eyes.
    Sorry so long, but I know how you feel. You are beautiful so please don’t let anyone or anything make you feel otherwise.

  14. Member
    Aud1628 540 posts, Busy bee @ 7:12 pm

    I think every bride feels this way in some way or another, no matter what size you are,we just all want to be the best versions of ourself on our wedding day, but like you said our fiances love us for who we are and what we look like obviously they proposed! You have to stop being so harsh on yourself! You have a very cool, witty way of writing and I don’t always want to see you talk yourself down!!

  15. Member
    Future Army Wife 2213 posts, Buzzing bee @ 7:18 pm

    SO FREAKING TRUE. I, too, wax ghetto fabulous at times. I’ve thought that my in-laws won’t like having a curvy daughter in law. But my fiance is amazing, and he loves me no matter what. And losing 30 pounds this year has helped!

  16. Guest Icon Guest
    rosanne, Guest @ 7:55 pm

    HAHHAHAAH i LOVE that the link from “the big change” went to puberty on wikipedia. I’M LAUGHING SO HARD! YOU ARE HILARIOUS!!

    but for realz gurl, you are beautiful. Even that “bad” picture you look adorable. I love open mouthed laughing faces :) pure joy!

  17. Member
    msfox 1635 posts, Bumble bee @ 8:48 pm

    What other pp’s have said is true – I think we all tend to feel this way (unless you’re a lucky duck who’s 6ft tall and skinny minny and perfect in every way.. but even those girls have insecurities!). I have gap teeth. My skin is less than perfect. My arms look fat. I should be thinner and more fit. The list goes on. All I can say to you, Miss U, is that you are adorable and beautiful and will be gorgeous.. not cute.. gorgeous! in your wedding day ensemble, regardless. And go you for being able to see past the “ugly” and love that beyond awesome picture of you and the Mr!

  18. Member
    Kelly_Saves 17 posts, Newbee @ 8:53 pm

    I work in the event industry…so I understand the stress of making the wedding “perfect” even though I am anything but!

    I have bad skin, and I got some messed up teef, too! It used to be really hard for me to deal with…I was always worried about my makeup or not smiling in pictures because I was so self conscious about my crooked-ass-teef!

    I had a hard time with wedding dress shopping too…I’m very simple at heart and I want nothing more than my wedding day to be simple and fun. So trying on all these huge ass dresses with beads and sequins and lace was just NOT me. I finally found a Mori Lee dress that was perfect. Nothing flashy, nothing lacy and nothing with sequins! I love it and I feel pretty in it!

    I know my bad skin and teeth are going to show in my wedding pics…but it’s me. I know they’ll show how happy I am on that special day…and I know that’s all that matters.

    You’re a beautiful girl and embrace your flaws…we all have them :)

  19. Guest Icon Guest
    Richard Crespi, Guest @ 11:33 pm

    “the big change” went to puberty on wikipedia. I’M LAUGHING SO HARD! YOU ARE HILARIOUS!!

  20. Guest Icon Guest
    Lexy, Guest @ 12:04 am

    I feel you too! I have been trying to avoid bridal magazines (not only the body insecurity but the budget inadequacy and general horrible feelings of NOT. DOING. IT. RIGHT.) and focusing instead on how much I love my Mr. and how much he loves me and how lucky we are to have each other.

    But that doesn’t mean I don’t think of how wide I’ll look in profile and grimace. Or wonder if my teeth are too yellow or if my hair is going to look like a pair of endangered birds is nesting in it.

    I love your picture of you two laughing, you do look happy and no one who looks that happy could ever also look ugly.

  21. Member
    mssocks 1336 posts, Bumble bee @ 6:25 am

    Great post, Uni!! I had similar anxieties, and I was TERRIFIED to look at my wedding photos because I was scared I’d look awful. I can say that even though not every picture was super beautiful and flattering, my photog did a great job of capturing me at my best. No matter what, you WILL look like the most beautiful version of yourself on your wedding day because a) you’ll be SO HAPPY and b) You’re hiring professionals to help you & that’s their job ;)

    You’re beautiful! I hope these worries don’t plague you too long!

  22. Member
    therascalqueen 204 posts, Helper bee @ 7:20 am

    This is a great post (even if you now have me worried that I’m going to look like a hunchback during my vows : D ) You are right, there’s a lot of money at stake in making us feel insecure! The best thing we can do for ourselves and our daughters is fight back. And BTW, when you posted that pic of you I thought you looked beautiful.

  23. Member
    MsBrownie 34 posts, Newbee @ 8:27 am

    Your eyelashes look awesome!

  24. Member
    Jessoverall 304 posts, Helper bee @ 9:09 am

    Suck it up pretty lady. You will be a bride, you will get married, and everyone will be happy for you. thats all that matter

  25. Guest Icon Guest
    Ro, Guest @ 9:54 pm

    I just wanted to let you know that I added this article to my favorites. I have been feeling like this ever since my fiance proposed, and really it’s not fair to him or me! I love this article, and it was exactly what I need to hear today. Thank you so much for sharing!

    PS- I think you and your fiance are adorbs :)

  26. Member
    babebabe06 889 posts, Busy bee @ 12:27 pm

    i felt the exact same way, i was literally in tears the day before my wedding i fely “ugly” since im a size 16 i was so worried i would jst look fat in all my wedding pictures and i was sooo sunburned which just added to everything. but on my wedding day i dont think i ever felt so beautiful in my life,

  27. Guest Icon Guest
    sarah, Guest @ 5:22 pm

    you are beautiful! and i love the laughing/happy photo…those are the best :)

  28. Member
    unicycle 476 posts, Helper bee @ 8:24 pm

    I really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments, and you all made me feel so much better! I forgot to put a disclaimer that I was trying to fish for compliments, but they certainly didn’t hurt!

  29. Guest Icon Guest
    delicious, Guest @ 7:53 am

    @irish.melis: Amen to “You know what…I don’t care anymore, because I’m pretty sure that if I am rockin the back fat out the back of my dress ha, that is the back fat my fiance proposed to!” :) I need to write that down somewhere!!!

  30. Member
    funnelcake 1171 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:19 am

    Um, you are SO not ugly at all Miss U! I think you’re a total cutie and was just thinking how unfair it is you don’t need the clips at the bridal stores. That means you could buy sample gowns at stores so much easier when they do zip! All those underweight girls need to pay a fortune to bring the dresses in. ;)

    Anyway, just from your e-pics I can tell you that you are going to have so many amazing wedding photos! Don’t even worry about it. You are damn gorgeous! But I get what you mean… the wedding planning industry does give you this urge to be more perfect. I wanted better eyebrows, thinner/toned body (which I did nothing to aid… HA), different hairline, etc. Some brides are like fantasy beautiful and I would want to be like them… And I know what you mean about hating certain photos of yourself. They are not even bad, but you always are so critical on yourself. I’m with you Miss U! Remember how pretty you are. :)

  31. Member
    lumos 668 posts, Busy bee @ 11:09 am

    Re: Your weigh-in question: Absolutely. There’s SOO much pressure on us to look “perfect” on our wedding day.
    My guy pointed out that girls are conditioned from early childhood with shows and movies about perfect princesses and perfect dresses, not to mention flawless skin and hair. He also said that the wedding industry takes advantage of women because they know how obsessed they become about things being “perfect”.
    This made me realize that I need to remember that this day is about ME, and he fell in love with ME. He doesn’t want me to get all fancy with hair and makeup either because he wants me to look like myself when we get married. (Of course I’ll try to polish myself up and stuff, but I’m not going crazy over it.)
    You should remember that too! Your guy fell in love with you and all this self-criticism is the result of deliberate and unfair targeting of women by the media.
    Your guy chose you for who you are. Stay positive about yourself and you’ll shine brighter than if you obsess over flaws.

    You are beautiful. Own it and rock it!

  32. Guest Icon Guest
    Alana, Guest @ 8:15 am

    What an amazing post… this is all that is going through my head lately as my wedding gets closer and closer. Its so nice to know I’m not alone in this, and have someone else express it so eloquently!! The worst though, is that I’m looking at the pic of you in the dress from behind and secretly saying to myself, “god I hope my arms look that good by the time my wedding rolls around!”

  33. Guest Icon Guest
    Nina, Guest @ 7:18 am

    I am crying here, not least because it resonates with me but because I can’t feel the same relief. I may be size two, but that doesn’t stop me from having a myriad of body concerns. Neck too short, hands too small (trust me, even this can be an issue), hair the wrong texture, crooked yellow teeth, bad skin, bad face proportions, what have you the list goes on so long. I have battle bad body acceptance for 13 years. I haven’t come to terms with it.

    I am looking at all these wonderful photos of all these wonderful looking people, and I don’t measure up. I try looking at pictures of normal people enjoying their happy wedding, but I am not satisfied. Just being happy doesn’t make my perfection driven self at ease.

    I already passed the message to my SO that I don’t want to be married because I’m too ugly to have a wedding. She didn’t take me seriously.

    I’m dead serious.

  34. Guest Icon Guest
    Laura, Guest @ 6:01 am

    I found this by googling “ugly bride.” Not to find something to laugh at, but to see if anyone else felt this way. Like the last comment, I am small – but anything but confident! I lost twenty pounds after college, so I still have excess flab in places I don’t want it. I think I look pretty good in a dress, but bathing suits or being naked are a whole different ball game! My biggest insecurity is my skin. I laugh at the fact that I thought I suffered from acne in high school. Now I look at pictures of myself then and wonder what I was possibly insecure about then. I have constant breakouts, bumps all over my forehead, and nothing helps. Nothing. Facials, proactive, cutting out products altogether, mineral makeup, eating super healthy, etc. I’m on birth control, but that hasn’t helped either. I’ve always been self-conscious about my skin, but since getting engaged, I cry about it on a daily basis. I was happy to see that Photoshop helped in my bridal portraits, but what about how I actually look?? Not the pictures, but how people see me? I feel embarrassed telling people I’m getting married in less than two weeks, because I feel like they look at me and think, “aren’t you going to do something about that skin of yours?”

    This has also been hard because it’s the one thing I dont want to talk to my fiancé about. He knows i struggle with insecurity, but I dont want to point out things that he might not have been focusing on before. The engagement has brought us a lot of stress, but this has been my greatest. I have been reading wedding magazines since I was 15. I have been influenced by the wedding industry for far too long.

    Ten more days until I walk down the aisle. I wonder…will my insecurities subside somewhat afterwards? Please tell me yes.

  35. Guest Icon Guest
    Lisa, Guest @ 7:19 pm

    Hi there, reading this now in wedding planning phase. Am a not pretty-but pretty average girl -not kidding- size 14- with the looming responsibility of being a bride. Honestly am happy to be marrying my stubborn & sweet, very precious, non Mr. Right : )
    but the thought of being ‘a bride’ is really terrifying for me.

    Feel like the whole bride/beauty thing is so beyond my reach…looking for a “pimp my bride” opportunity to see what can be surgically done. Lol

    Don’t know how I’m going to do this “happy event”…gulp and smile….wish I was married already

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