The article on Newsweek.com (02/28/2008) says it all. "Since 24-year-old Noelle Nicolai got engaged in early January, she's been surprised that no one has asked about her plans for 'happily ever after' or the details of the engagement. Instead, all the questions have revolved around one topic: what she's going to look like on her wedding day."
In the broadest sense, today's bride has become obsessed with the details of the wedding -- her looks, the room, the flowers, the food -- and has forgotten that the goal is marriage. In a more limited way, their focus has narrowed to appearances -- theirs! It's become all about their weight, their complexion, their weight, their hair, their weight...
Since when did being thin become the end goal of the wedding day?
The Talmud asks a pertinent question that has nothing to do with dress size. Our sages wanted to know how to talk about a bride. Do you praise her according to her actual qualities or do you attribute to her virtues and qualities that she may not obviously have?
The envelope please... We say that every bride is beautiful and righteous, whether we believe it or not. Because to her husband she is. In her husband's eyes, she has those qualities. He finds her wonderful in all and every way. And it's not because of the missing pounds or the expensively styled hair.
Few men preface their marriage proposal with a conditional "When you lose a few pounds" (at least not their successful marriage proposal!) or "When you get your makeup done professionally."
All this rushing about to tanning salons (and risking skin cancer) or fad diets (and risking eating disorders or malnutrition) or for botox treatments (and risking in some cases actual botulism) seems to have no connection to the wishes and desires of the prospective grooms. It seems to be a new and destructive time of peer pressure, a keeping with up with the Melissas and Ashleys.
Presumably the groom has gotten to know his bride's character and finds it appealing. Presumably he finds her attractive. So why the frantic search for more beauty? Perhaps we've been sold a bill of goods by all those bridal magazines and movies. After all, it's a very successful and continually growing industry.
There is a lot of preparation a bride should do before her wedding. She should be very busy meeting with happily married women to ask their advice. She should be taking classes and reading books on character development. She should be engaged in introspection and should make a spiritual accounting. She should read books on making marriage work. Those are the details that really count.
Her nails may be short. Her skin may be pale. She may not be a size two but if she is "beautiful and righteous" in her husband's eyes, if she's focused on her character growth and enhancing her marriage, then it won't just be the wedding of her dreams, it will be the marriage of her dreams too.