Three weeks before my wedding, I was experiencing very typical “bride-ness”. I was primarily falling deeper in love with my fiancee, as he exemplified grace in all things. I was also stressing about silly things… like, “hey did we register for literally anything that we actually need? Oh we didn’t?… well then when are we going back to Bed, Bath and Beyond?”. When you are engaged, BB&B becomes somewhat of a sanctuary... where you have unlimited resources... due to gift-cards. (insert praise hands emoji)
In the middle of all the chaos- very, very subtle insecurities started to creep into my spinning mental wheels. They didn’t sound like insecurities at first, as they disguised themselves in cultural norms or self-imposed expectations (insecurities are sneaky like that). Starting out, the biggest things on my mind were… “where can we fit 350 people in December?” or just closing the deal on a rental house. But once we were headlong into wedding month, I started to drift to the classic “how can I look the most beautiful? The most flattered from every angle? The most elegant?”. I’ve never really been into “glam”, but every woman has her own idealism about beauty standards and I certainly had mine.
The Lord spoke to my heart in a gentle, knowing nudging. I tried to push his voice down. I tried to pretend I wasn’t sure it was him speaking- but I know my Father’s voice.
He was telling me that I needed to find a tangible way to lay down my idealistic self-talk, and pick up the truth. I needed to break free from lies of western, modern, sexualized imagery… before they sunk my self-esteem and self-worth. Beyond that, I needed to lay down something that felt valuable to me (my image)- to remember that being a bride doesn't excuse me (even for a single day) from principles of sacrifice and humility.
Bridal magazines at 4 years old on a coffee table in Pottery Barn, jewelry stores in the mall when you’re 14- or any form of exposure to pornography at any age (which can be as simple as walking past Victoria’s Secret)… will drag a woman’s inner voice down to a puddle of mud at her feet, if she doesn’t fight.
So as I pondered how badly I wanted everyone attending my wedding to tell me how beautiful I looked, or “beaming”… I thought... “what small thing could I do... that would be a sacrifice for me, and a laying down of this misguided pursuit?” Well I knew. I needed to let people see me as I really am. I had already abandoned the big fancy ball-gown or slinky mermaid dress concepts- they just weren’t me. My dress was already simple, hand-made, and more like a dance costume.
That was it. As quickly as I thought it, the Lord confirmed it.
I am not particularly obsessed with makeup, but as an artist… it is a fun way to paint the version of your face you like the most. *idealism
I happened to be marrying a man that pounces on any shred of self-deprecation he sees in me. I realized how honored he would feel, in my telling him that I felt confident enough in his love for me, to walk down the aisle plain and simple- without any shadow or blush. More than that, I would be confident enough to reflect well on him, not by how attractive I appeared through my body or through my face… but in the way I treat people, and in the way I recognize Christ at the center of that day.
Look- several of my friends have gone without makeup on their wedding day. I am no hero for doing that- it’s not a new idea. But I was a hero to myself that day, because I chose freedom over fear of judgement. I chose confidence over cultural pressure. I chose transparency in my imperfections, over bending to the beast of “beauty” standards in our world.
With this one choice, so many tittle lies lost their power.
Once I was decided-I started telling people. Partly to keep me accountable to actually going through with it, partly just to share.
My greatest fear was actually that people would say ‘she didn’t wear makeup? so what?’... but the many women and girls that responded strongly, surprised me- in the best way.
“If you do that, I would be so inspired.”
“That would be a gift to my girls.”
“I needed to be reminded of that.”
“I would never forget that.”
What was originally about a personal sacrifice, became a gift I wanted to offer our wedding guests. Our pastor started the ceremony with reading a letter I had written (explaining these thoughts briefly, to our guests).
Here are the many hopes and prayers I held for our guests that day-
That all the teenage boys I know and love, would be reminded what a waste it is... to be looking for the hottest girl on Instagram, or taking what the girl who sends them nudes, is offering. They will be the most championed by a girl who has the honorable pursuit to love them with her own rawness, and “bare” to them in God-honoring ways, in God's perfect timing. How deeply fulfilling that is.
That Mothers would be reminded not to assume their daughter know’s she doesn’t need makeup, but to make certain that they help their daughters put boundaries in place… that keep away temptations of reliance on external factors to boost self-esteem.
That brothers and sisters would intentionally enter in with their siblings, and speak the truth of grounded identity together. Calling each other up in love, to not wear what taints their natural beauty… like immodest clothing, or plastered foundation.
That Fathers… most of all, fathers… would not be lazy in their conversations with their daughters. That they would be actively looking for opportunities to exhort.
Let us all become people who don’t wait until women get dressed up on a Friday night to tell them they look pretty… but to say in the every day life, in our truest forms and without extensive adorning… that women who love God are beautiful, and it is his power that causes a second-glance… third, fourth, and fifth glances.
When, the day came... i felt one hundred percent myself. While I don't think I look the best I've ever looked in my wedding photos... it was so worth the relief it brought me. It was so worth the many women who were reminded to live in freedom, and who have since told me how important that choice was to them.
For an event that even Christian men and women joke is “about the bride” “the bride get’s whatever she wants”… "all about" me...
I felt the most empowered by what I gave up.