Have I got your attention?
Body issues. Everyone has them. Tell a girl she’s beautiful and she’ll jump straight to what she perceives as her worst flaw and focus on that instead. Throw in a wedding and it gets so much worse. As soon as I announced my engagement, the question I was most often met with was, “So, how much weight are you planning on losing for the wedding? You have almost two years so you could lose a ton if you get started right away!” You have no idea how hurtful and insulting it was to hear this at every turn. It got to the point where I actually started dreading announcing the happy news because every congratulations came with its own little footnote: PS, you’re fat.
For the record: I’m not fat, I don’t think. I mean, I’m definitely not skinny, but I’m also not plus-sized or anything like that. I have huge boobs…and an ass…and my thighs are bigger than my legs. But overall I look proportional and dare I say it? Good.
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At first I would shrug it off and politely answer that I wasn’t actually planning on any drastic weight loss for the wedding, that I wanted to look like myself, only better. Apparently, though, my normal self wasn’t good enough, wasn’t pretty enough or thin enough. It didn’t help that the comments were coming from the people I valued most, like family and close friends. Even my maid of honour offered to help me lose weight. Help. Like I was so set in my fatty ways that I couldn’t figure it out on my own.
My first encounter with bridal sizing came one month after being engaged. I was out shopping for bridesmaids’ dresses with BM Tiny and MOH Long Legs who are, respectively, sizes 0 and 2, when they decided that I needed to stand in for BM Green Eyes since I was closest to her size and she would not be flying in from Miami. I went to grab my regular size when the consultant rolled her eyes at me and said, ” No, you need a size 18,” which was quite a few sizes up from my normal size! I put the dress on and, to my disbelief, it barely zipped, my boobs spilling out the top like two gelatinous blobs. I didn’t even come out of the fitting room. I just stood there, watching myself in the mirror, crying. I was fat. I was a fat bride. I hurried out of the store and didn’t tell anybody other than Mr. Waterfall what had happened that day, but the experience scarred me enough to keep me from trying on a single wedding gown for months. On my first wedding-dress shopping trip, my consultant kept putting me in dresses that were nothing like what I had asked for. When I finally asked why she was ignoring my requests, she said that I wouldn’t fit into the other dresses because I was too fat. In case you’re wondering, my consultant herself was definitely not a skinny girl. Every store I went to had more of the same. It felt like the entire industry was telling me that in order to wear these dresses, I had to look a certain way. Be a certain size. But if there is one area of fashion where vanity sizing should be the norm, it should be wedding gowns! It’s the one time in your life when you want to feel your most beautiful, and even though it’s a number on a label, it can really mess with your self-esteem.
While I wanted to be healthier, I almost didn’t want to give anybody else the satisfaction of my losing weight. I felt as though if I did I was tacitly agreeing that my normal self wasn’t good enough. I remember a few years ago, this girl I worked with was getting married, and she became so completely obsessed with her weight that she would eat a handful of olives for lunch and then run on fumes for the rest of the day—and by fumes, I mean cigarette fumes, because she smoked like a chimney to curb her appetite. She lost a ton of weight, all right, but I certainly would not consider a diet of coffee and cigarettes healthy. I knew I didn’t want to be that girl. I wanted to tone up certain problem areas and try to make healthier choices, not just for the wedding but going forward. For the record, I don’t believe in dieting because it simply doesn’t work. It’s like slapping a Band-Aid on a wound that needs stitches—a quick, temporary fix. It’s been proven that diets don’t work simply because the second you stop depriving yourself (and eventually, everybody does) you gain the weight right back.
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I did not want to be one of those girls who loses a ton of weight for the wedding and is too depressed to look at her pictures down the road because she gained the weight right back, and then some. This is not meant to disrespect any bees out there who have taken the wedding as a stepping stone to a healthier lifestyle! Several blogger bees have shared their experiences with getting healthier, and I applaud them; I just disagree with a quick-fix mentality of fad dieting. I believe that it’s more about making small, achievable lifestyle changes that you can continue to maintain for years, after the wedding has come and gone. For me, it was more about portion control and eating more veggies and less processed foods, rather than, say, declaring all complex carbohydrates to be the devil until after the wedding. My main emphasis was on health—not just physical, but mental.
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I ended up buying a dress that was three or four sizes up from my regular size and was terrified that it would end up being huge on me. The irony of it all is that I actually lost close to 30 pounds before my wedding without even trying, and while it’s probably the thinnest I’ve ever been, it’s also the least healthy I’ve ever been…I was literally wasting away because my body was so sick that my organs couldn’t even process food. People would compliment me on how thin I looked, and I didn’t even know how to respond. “Why thank you. I’ve been vomiting for months. I guess it shows.”? Instead, I politely thanked them and moved on. I guess they meant well. When I went for my first fitting and saw my dress on the hanger, it looked like a tarp. When they put it on me, it was literally falling off. Alterations would have been so costly that they decided to rush-order me a new dress, which I still had to have taken in. And while it felt nice feeling thin for once, that’s not what I see when I look at my wedding photos. I don’t see how much weight I lost—I see how radiantly happy I look to be marrying Mr. W surrounded by family and friends.
In this age of Pinterest and Style Me Pretty, we brides face so much pressure to look perfectly immaculate on our wedding day. And I get it, really. It only makes sense to want to look your best on the most photographed day of your life. You want your teeth to be pearly white and your complexion to be glowing and dewy, but not shiny. But what we often forget is that a wedding is just one day. Some brides break out or have a bad hair day, others have their period. It happens, because it’s real life and not a styled photo shoot with professional models in some glossy wedding magazine. So why do we hold ourselves up to such impossibly high standards? It’s no wonder brides are willingly paying thousands of dollars to be fed through a feeding tube, all for the sake of being thin and beautiful on their wedding day.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: If you want to lose weight for yourself, because you want to feel better about yourself, I applaud you. If you want to get healthy and eat better and exercise more often, I’m right there with you. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to get off the couch and go for a walk or a run, then by all means, do! I strongly encourage anyone to do things that will make them feel happier and more confident, and for many brides the wedding is great motivation to finally make a change. But don’t feel like you need to change yourself in order to fit into some crazy standard of what a bride should be. Please keep in mind that you’re already beautiful, and your significant other already loves you, just the way you are. Real women come in all shapes and sizes, and real beauty comes from within, not from some number on a scale or on a label.
What positive changes have you made?