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The Confidence Double Standard

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the pressure women put on themselves to be “perfect” on their wedding day. To have the perfect dress, the perfect hair, the perfect makeup, and the perfect wedding planned right down to the perfect centerpieces.

It makes sense. This is a big day, and it’s one of the few in our lives where we are the complete center of attention. So of course women want to do that day right. Of course they want to feel good about themselves and the dream event they’ve put together.

But sometimes it seems like brides get caught up in that idea of perfection far more than grooms do. Its as if some brides base a lot of their self-worth on the overall presentation of that day, and of themselves within that day.

Most grooms are in it for the party, to make their bride happy, and see their friends. But plenty of brides are banking on that day to be an almost coming out of the woman they hope to be forever perceived as.

The beautiful, put-together, blushing bride who created a wedding people will talk about for ages.

The reality is hardly ever that pristine. The bride and groom are pulled in a thousand different directions, socializing is near impossible, and while hair and makeup can do wonders to make the bride look and feel beautiful… that doesn’t change the fact that she’s most likely exhausted and starving beneath that dress.

Do brides really need to put so much pressure on themselves to be perfect for the wedding day? Maybe they are already perfect and just don’t see it?

I recently read a piece that had me thinking about that juxtaposition, and the pressure brides put on themselves to be “perfect.” It wasn’t about weddings at all. Instead, this article (titled “Love Yourself, but Not Too Much”) was about the double standard of confidence we put on women. The writer talks about how we are living in an era of self-love. Memes and articles pop up everywhere encouraging women to love themselves just as they are. To celebrate all that makes them… them. And to embrace even their flaws as a part of their individual beauty.

That mantra is everywhere. But what actually happens when women do that? When women dare to say out loud, “I’m happy in the skin I’m in and confident in the person I’ve become”?

That’s when “the vanity police step in to keep us in line.” The minute a woman is confident enough to let the world know it, she’s dubbed egotistical and the world sets out to take her down a notch.

The writer of this piece did a really good job of illustrating that, talking about how, “I’m a work in progress,” is about the nicest thing a woman can say about herself without running the risk of being torn down by others. But why is that? Why have we built an atmosphere where, as women, we’re so afraid of another woman’s confidence that we can’t just admire that, instead of wanting to knock her down a notch?

Why do we expect women to be confident and humble at the same time? Why isn’t it enough to celebrate ourselves and each other, and to strive towards that kind of blatant confidence that doesn’t need to be hidden in order to be valued?

Even confident women, or perhaps especially confident women, want to be beautiful brides. That’s a given, and it’s true of all of us. But the striving towards perfection, and the basing of one’s worth on the level of that perfection that is achieved; that’s were I do think we start to see some of that double standard we’ve all been fed. Because a woman’s wedding day is one of the few occasions where it feels acceptable to put the best of who we can be on display, and so women want to achieve a level of perfection never seen before (or again) in real life.

They want to truly be their best during the one time they’re granted permission to enjoy that.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we granted women that same permission every other day as well? If we let them say, “I feel really beautiful today,” or “I’m really happy with how my life’s turned out,” or “I’m exactly where I want to be and there’s absolutely nothing I would change,” without it being her wedding day.

Maybe then, the pressure for perfection on that big day could be replaced by something else.

A genuine confidence that radiates from within, and maybe even allows brides to just enjoy the party alongside their new grooms.