Always a Bridesmaid: “I Feel Pretty…Exhausted”

I didn’t start wearing makeup until I was maybe 16 years old. Sure, high heels and sparkle dresses excited me as much as they did the next ten-year-old girl, but I wasn’t too jazzed about spending my free time primping. Even today, spa days, manicures, and pedicures can be fun once in a while, but if not for good company, I’d probably decline in favor of playing tennis or grabbing a beer.

So with wedding season and various trips planned for this year, I figure that in addition to working on getting in better shape, I ought to work on the other things women do to look a little better in a formal gown. And I’ve learned something: Beautiful women everywhere must be exhausted. In the past month, I’ve found beauty-related preparations to be never-ending:

Tanning. Usually I scoff at the idea of tanning, because of the reasons above (I’m easily bored) and because I don’t want to have skin like a football by the time I’m 50. But no one wants to look like a ghost in the wedding photos, which some dresses and colors can do to you. So I’ve decided to compromise. I’m trying tanning lotion—a daily-application lotion by Jergens. It doesn’t smell pretty, but it definitely works and looks natural. It’s a subtle tan, but it’s the best I’m going to be able to do without light bulbs.

Teeth whiteners. My dentist always says, “You have such beautiful teeth, but lay off the coffee.” Well, that’s one vice I’m not prepared to give up, so I decided to try teeth whitening. Fortunately, I had some teeth molds left over from when I did this for high-school graduation, so I knew that Crest Whitestrips are good. But the stuff you can get only in your dentist’s office is much better.

Special undergarments. Regular bras are expensive enough—but then there’s T-strap, strapless, pushup, and minimizer bras. Various colors, straps, and levels of cleavage make it tough to see an end in sight! Though I have to say this is one of the most important things to go to a good store for. You can pick out shoes at discount and make them work. But somehow those Nordstrom saleswomen already know that your boobs will sag in that bra before you even try it on. They’re magical.

Hair. When I was chatting with my hairdresser, I realized that I had to tailor my haircut to how long my hair would have to be in order to fit into an updo a month down the road. Also, I had to forgo my annual highlights when considering how little time I’d have to see my stylist to get my roots done between all my travels. I can’t even decide what color I want my hair to be year to year, but brides have to decide early enough to schedule a salon date and even do a test run. This stuff requires some forethought!

Shoes. How come I never see a woman walking into DSW with a bridesmaid gown draped over her arm? Do women have magical eye-matching techniques I’m not aware of? I tried eyeballing and ended up being that girl in line everyone waits for while the manager is summoned to do a return.

I care about my appearance to an extent. And I love getting dressed up. But boy, will I be relieved to return to a time when I can do whatever I want to my hair and wear dresses I don’t have to tape to my bra straps and skin. I’m sure my coworkers will love it, too, when they’re no longer sharing cubicle space with the smell of tanning lotion.

Katie, a local bridesmaid-to-be, writes occasionally about planning for and being part of three (and counting) friends' weddings in one year. To follow her adventures from the beginning, click here.

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