“Shredding for the wedding”. It’s a phrase I’ve heard since we got engaged. And while I hear it from people who have the best intentions, it triggers the little voice in my head that tells me I need to lose weight. That feeling is something that I’ve been trying to avoid throughout the wedding planning process, but I’m not gonna lie, it’s been harder than I expected.
I would consider my body type to be “mid-size”, with my sizing falling between sizes 10-14 (U.S.). This body type has started to appear more and more in social media, and I love seeing the presence of diverse body types grow more each year. But our society has a long way to go in terms of inclusivity and the definition of “health”, and there are more days than I’d like to admit where I feel too big and that I take up too much space in the world.
(Please note: I am privileged in the fact that my body type is just outside the realm of what is socially accepted. I am a white, cisgender, mid-size female and the body positivity movement does not apply to me. I support and empower the founders of that movement, who are majority “plus size” womxn of color. Find out more here.)
Weddings and body-shaming have a history of going hand in hand. We are told by media and marketing tactics that our wedding is the best day of our life, and we have to be the best (i.e. thinnest) versions of ourselves that day or it will all be for nothing. What diet are you going on? Make sure at every dress fitting they have to take in another inch. It’s your day, but remember everyone is going to be looking at you and will remember what you looked like. But no pressure, just have fun (oh, and if you’re stressed out you’re a bridezilla).
I have enjoyed the wedding planning journey, but I will admit the part I have struggled with the most is wedding dress shopping. My relationship with my body image has been an issue for me ever since I was a preteen. I was the “bigger friend”, and I was acutely aware of it. I always pictured what I would look like on my wedding day: skinny. I know it’s neither correct nor healthy, but I’m being honest. It’s easier to tell others to love themselves than it is to tell yourself. So when dress shopping, I would look at myself in the dresses and think “This would look great if I just took a few inches off my waist” or “My stomach in this dress is all anyone will notice”.
My breaking point with dress shopping came when I thought I had found “the one” (don’t even get my started on this phrase). I had gone with my maid of honor and we both loved this one dress, but I couldn’t bring myself to spend the money. I looked on the website “Still White” which sells secondhand wedding dresses and found the exact dress in my street size and for a decent price. I was ecstatic, and reached out to ask if I could try the dress on before I officially bought it to be sure (the seller lived nearby). I went with my mom to try it on, and envisioned how it would fit like a glove, I’d cry, my mom would cry, and I would hear Randy Fenoli would say in my head “Are you saying yes to this dress?” and I would say “Yes!” through my tears (I was an avid watcher of “Say Yes to the Dress” when I was in high school if you can’t tell).
But as I put it on, I felt the zipper start to go up and stop halfway, stuck at my waist. I tried to convince myself that it was fine, that it was still the dress and just needed to be tailored. But it would have to be completely re-constructed, and ultimately it was just too small. I changed out of it, my cheeks red with shame as I told the kind seller, because in my head I was saying “Sorry, I’m too fat for my dream dress.” I cried the entire drive home and for another couple of hours after that.
This story is for me to tell you what I should have been telling myself this entire time: There is nothing wrong with you. It is not your fault if a dress doesn’t fit, it’s the dress’ fault. It is fabric, and does not have the right to dictate how you feel about your beautiful, capable, healthy body. “Healthy” is not one size fits all. Healthy is body-fluid, and looks different on every single person because we are all different to begin with! While these words seem like “Yeah, duh, I already knew that”, telling them to yourself and actually believing it can be extremely difficult and it’s something I’m still working on.
I will be sharing wedding updates throughout the planning process, and some of them will be health and fitness related. However, they will not be focused on how I’m losing weight for the wedding. I am shifting the focus from losing weight specifically for the wedding to using this time to give myself the space to not only accept my body but to nourish it so that I feel (not look) good physically, mentally, and emotionally. Self-care means something different to everyone, but to me it means exercising in ways that bring me joy, eating foods that my body thrives on, and remembering to put on (reef-safe) sunscreen.
So my parting words for you are what I state in the title: No, you don’t need to lose weight for your wedding. Having an amazing wedding is not determined by a number on a scale determined by a broken society. You will have an amazing wedding because you not only love the person going into the marriage with you, but because you love yourself just as much. And that is worth celebrating!