When Nicolette Mason got engaged to her girlfriend of two-and-a-half years, she was expecting lots of congratulations, some flowers, and plenty of well-wishes. Instead, she received lots of advice…all concerning her appearance. “People have been hounding me with, 'OH MY GOD, YOU HAVE TO DO THIS' sort of stuff, like full-body shrink-wraps and fitness bootcamps,” she says. None of this was meant maliciously — in fact, as many brides-to-be can attest, this is sort of how being engaged works. “The mentality of changing yourself for your wedding day is so ingrained in the bridal culture — they talk about what you’re going to look like at your wedding instead of what you look like now,” she says. This didn’t exactly work for Nicolette — in fact, it’s sort of the opposite of what she represents. After all, she’s the body-positive contributing editor for Marie Claire, famous for expelling the notion that you must be sample size in order to be stylish. She’s a self-proclaimed feminist, unafraid of calling out the ridiculous expectations fashion can sometimes place on women. If she were to, say, suddenly drop tons of weight just to fit into a dress for her wedding day, it would be more than a little disingenuous. “If your wedding day is all about your relationship and the love you share with a partner, and you’ve been good enough for them until now and they want to marry you, the complex to change everything about your physicality and go through this whole renewal of yourself all in preparation for one day is kind of insane,” Nicolette says. “The amount of money people spend, and the pressure they put on themselves to look a certain way, is so counterintuitive to the idea of a person falling in love with you as you were, as you are, and what the rest of their life with you looks like.” But, that didn’t exactly mean the bride-to-be didn’t want to look her best on her Big Day (coming up in May). She’s a total fashion devotee, and an absolute beauty junkie — naturally, she’d call in the big guns. She’s just approaching it in a different way. “The way I’m looking at this process is that it’s not about the day so much as it is preparing for the next phase in my life,” she says. “My priorities have shifted immensely over the past year. It’s partly my age, partly being engaged, and thinking about the next five to 10 years of my life and a family, but it’s also thinking about my future, what I want out of my appearance, and how I’m approaching aging…I’m using my wedding as a benchmark to invest in myself for the rest of my life.” That’s where we come in: Nicolette’s desire to use fashion and beauty to empower herself during this pivotal time in her life is quintessentially R29: “If I feel good about myself, if I feel energetic and strong, I’ll feel confident in my relationship. It has nothing to do with the wedding, but it has everything to do with my overall wellness and keeping the good things that I have for the long term,” she says. Introducing: A Beauty Guide for the Conscious Bride. Over the next few months, Nicolette will be inviting you along as she meets with dermatologists, makeup artists, hairstylists, and more, assembling a team of professionals who will help her realize her goal, while eschewing the archaic notion that one must be a new woman for her wedding. This won’t be your typical bridal beauty column — it’s Nicolette’s personal story of rediscovery. “For me, this is about the process of working towards the lifestyle I want to have once I’m married, continuing to grow my career, and thinking about a family.” How lucky we are to be along for the ride. Tune in next month for the first installation, which will focus on skin care.
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