Comfort has become my key consideration and it has a lot to do with all that changed in my life these past few months. After my month-long Indian/Pakistani wedding this past November, I’m over decking out in full bridal mode. The heels, the hair, the makeup & heavy lashes — all of it feels too fussy now. In many South Asian subcultures, it is custom for the bride to still look “bridal” after the wedding. In the subsequent months, family & friends host dinner parties in honor of the newlyweds for which the new bride has to dress up properly. Do they care what the new groom wears? Not so much. I think of it as cultural cotillion of sorts in which you are reintroduced to society. The unfortunate part is much of the criticism comes from other women and the women before them. Some aunties make subtle judgements, while others outright call you out if you do not present yourself according to their expectations and thus begins a complex journey of navigating your new role as a married woman in South Asian society.
There are many facets of South Asian culture I love, however, this particular idea — that the bride needs to look bridal months after the wedding — feels archaic. It’s one of the first ways I noticed South Asian culture exerting a kind of patriarchal force on the role of a new wife. This idea that a wife has to be X, Y, Z immediately after the wedding is problematic, especially when young girls have been told their entire lives how to present themselves. To experience this subtle kind of pressure even after you are older, married, and independent is unsettling in many ways, especially when the same kind of pressure is not experienced by your counterpart.
What do you do?
Well, you always have the choice to not give a shit. If we keep perpetuating a cultural policing of women bodies, we may never progress as a society. In order to break the cycle, wear what you feel and express yourself in as little or as much fuss as you choose. Your body, your decision.
BOTTOM: Urban Outfitters
SUNGLASSES: Urban Outfitters
Your post couldn’t be more accurate. I got married two months ago and was shocked to see so many “aunties” calling me out on not looking like a bride after the wedding. They make comments such as, “you don’t look married” or “no jewelry?” Not sure what a “married” person is suppose to look like, and no I can’t apologize for not whipping out my wedding jewelry set in the middle of the afternoon for your pleasure. Glad to read this post and know I’m not the only person absolutely frustrated by this culture expectation. But I refuse to change myself for a third party’s pleasure.