“So are you new to the area?”
I paused, technically it had been almost 5 months since I moved back up to Connecticut from Maryland, but the answer still felt like yes.
“Yes,” I said. “I moved here this past summer.”
“Oh, how exciting! What made you move?” The man behind the counter at the gym asked. It was January 2nd. I was there because I finally had admitted to myself that the pain in the bottom of my foot was probably an injury and not just a bruise that lasted 3 months
“My boyfriend lives here and we’re thinking of getting married,” who knew why I added that last part, although it was true (and now we are engaged!), I didn’t normally share that information.
“Oh I see, so you’re looking to get in shape for the wedding?”
I froze. Are you kidding me? I thought. I just want to do a little biking indoors so I can stay sane through my injury recovery.
I wish I could say this is the only time I’ve come across this attitude, this idea that if I am going to “look good” on my wedding day I better slim down. That my wedding preparation must include some form of dieting.
Since I got engaged, I see at least one advertisement every day that encourages me to add weight loss and dieting to the ever growing list of wedding to-dos.
As somebody who spends their days teaching teenagers how to respect their bodies for what they are capable of and not what they look like to see this message over and over again is infuriating. I tell my students that all body shapes and sizes are beautiful, but the world tells them no. Only the slimmest among us fall into that category. I tell my students that listening to our hunger cues can helps us make sure our body is getting enough energy, but every day there are more articles published about how to eat less and suppress our hunger.
According to a 2008 Cornell Study, 70 percent of brides-to-be have weight loss as part of their pre-wedding plan. More than 1/3 of those women use extreme measures such as diet pills, skipping meals or fasting to achieve their desired wedding weight.
I don’t know about you, but I am definitely not at my most happy or pleasant to be around when I’m hungry. And if I’ve been skipping meals for days (or months) on end, I don’t think I’d even want to be near me. How is this supposed to be one of the best days of my life if I’m hungry?
Despite my convictions that you don’t need to be skinny to be beautiful, I too have fallen victim to tears and worrying during and after trying on dresses. Why don’t the small sizes fit? Why is my dress size so large? Why? Why? Why?
Amidst all the questions, I almost never even stop to look at myself. The dresses look good. They fit well when I get the right size. MY SIZE IS THE SAMPLE SIZE! Shouldn’t that tell me something? Most people aren’t smaller than me – and most people aren’t smaller than you! We are all way more “normal” sized than any of the models we see. I don’t need to change – and neither does anybody else – to be a beautiful bride.
We can’t delete every article and advertisement, but we don’t have to read them. We don’t have to give them power over us.
So instead of gravitating to the dozens of articles about wedding diets and bride weight loss regimes – let’s start listening to our bodies and adhering to a very different kind of wedding preparation plan. Instead of weight loss add seeping when you feel tired , eating when you feel hungry and exercising when you feel antsy to the wedding to-do list. It seems so simple, but in the stress of wedding planning (and frankly every day life) these things often get left behind.
Happy May!! It’s officially wedding season. If you enjoyed this post be sure to tune in to Monday’s Life with Ed, the podcast to hear even more about the pressures put on brides to lose weight and “be smaller” throughout the time that they are engaged.