In today’s world, every girl is aware of how life takes a 180-degree turn once she gets married. I too belonged to this sect of seemingly-aware girls and thought that the changes would be restricted to sharing a bed and responsibilities, and adjusting to a new familial environment.
However, the greatest challenge turned out to be something I hadn’t expected at all: the pressure of looking good ALL THE FRICKIN’ TIME.
It hit me the first time on the first night itself
Just like any excited-yet-nervous newly-wed, as I slipped out of my wedding finery into a comfy night suit, the excitement took a backseat as I instantly reached out for my BB cream and lip tint after cleansing my face of the heavy make-up.
“What if he thinks I look like a zombie without all that makeup?” was the very thought that motivated me to sleep with makeup on, put my skin at risk, and unknowingly take the first step towards wrecking my emotional well-being.
If you think this was something any “normal” or “nervous” newly-wed would do, I’d like to add that as therapeutic as makeup can be, if it is used as a tool to disguise yourself in order to meet the expectations of say, a looks-conscious partner or family, it can lead to some self-loathing. At least that’s what a 2017 study published on PubMed Central says. The study also states that negative thoughts about yourself or a low self-esteem are linked to depression.
While putting makeup the first night doesn’t sound like a big deal, doing so every night and waking up earlier than my husband for a touch-up in order to look right out of bed most definitely were my baby steps to anxiety.
Listening to “you look so beautiful—even without make-up” from my partner only made me feel heavier as I had these expectations to meet every night and every morning.
The resulting acne made it worse
No points for guessing, our skin cannot endure the torture of pores being clogged with makeup 24 x 7. Mine wasn’t an exception as zits started popping up soon enough and turned into full-fledged acne in no time.
The “what’s wrong with your skin” questions from family, friends, and my husband made it difficult for me to look at myself in the mirror without indulging in self-loathing.
Interestingly enough, according to a review published in the American Academy of Dermatology acne can lead to a poor self-image and may further lead to depression. I guess, I was just in the process of proving this finding right.
The emotional distance from my partner was another side-effect
Putting on makeup to look appealing to my partner also created a sort of an emotional distance between him and me. You see, I always feared that the real, makeup free me wouldn’t be as appealing to him.
The anxiety from this fear went on to give me panic attacks several times, which became worse because every time they hit, I locked myself in the bathroom till it passed. Trust me, dealing with it all alone made things even worse.
Blame it on a post-marriage hormonal frenzy or endless dinner parties with relatives literally forcing food and desserts down my throat, weight gain was an unavoidable circumstance of matrimony for me. No points for guessing that weight gain can lead to negative self-image and low confidence, and cause depression.
Now you can imagine where all this might have lead me to. For starters, I had turned into a social recluse because getting ready meant trying on clothes from my trousseau and discarding the ones that had become tight. Not to mention, regular panic attacks were way too difficult to deal with.
My family made it worse
Dinner parties and get-togethers started with “shaadi ki khushi waist pe dikh rahi hai” instead of “Hi, welcome to my house” .
They say, social contact and interactions can help relieve depression, but in this case, they weren’t nearly helpful!
You know what was helpful though?
Venting out my frustration and saying “screw it”. When I finally realised, it was time to take control of my weight solely for health reasons and not aesthetic appeal, I began to accept my changing body.
Another thing that helped was to confront my husband without makeup and share the fear, as he instantly calmed me down by explaining that makeup had nothing to do with his feelings for me.
And lastly, knowing that relatives will always find faults as they need something to talk about and that it should not be given any attention is also something that greatly helped.
So that’s it for me. If you’re also going through a similar phase, talk it out with your partner. The suffering ain’t worth it!