“So how much weight are you planning to loose before the wedding?” I’m asked by a doe eyed shop assistant as I begin to perusing the rows of long white gowns. She’s asked people this many times before. Because of course everyone loses weight before their wedding right?! I feel the anger bubbling inside the pit of my stomach ready to stand up for myself but then I catch myself …
I think … well hopefully about 2 stone. Because that is the sorry truth.
How can I be angry when I know in my heart that this was almost the first thing I thought after getting engaged?
I hate being this person who feels like I need to lose weight for my wedding. I hate being this terrible cliché, the shame lays heavy and thick on me as I repeatedly fail to reach any weight loss goals. But what I hate most of all is knowing that I’d always planned to lose weight before my wedding, even before I was engaged, even before I even had a boyfriend. This is deep rooted shit.
I’ve gathered evidence from all the other weddings I’ve attended, movies and magazines. The bride is always the most beautiful person in room and some cruel subconscious thought led me to believe that for me that would mean losing a considerable amount of weight.
When I got engaged I insisted that I didn’t want a white wedding dress. Or perhaps I could get something unusual but I was hell bent on not a ‘traditional dress’. Because I thought if I didn’t have a traditional dress I wouldn’t be held up to these impossible standards. But there I was in my 3rd dress shop trying on the most traditional type of dresses this side of the royal wedding. Because if I’m honest, I do want a dress like this and however hard I fight I know I will feel like I’d missed out if I didn’t do it.
But if I’m going to do this I’m calling ceasefire on my body. This has gone on far too long. It is beyond the wedding, beyond the dress.
As I sat at home this morning crying into my breakfast terrified that I haven’t lost enough weight before today’s fitting, it dawn on me. I’ve spent the last decade at war with my body. THAT’S THE WHOLE OF MY TWENTIES. There have been too many anxiety filled trips to Pret-a-Manager where I picked up a tuna baguette and put it down again 3 times. Too many times I’ve told myself my life will start when I’ve lost the weight. The job, the life, success. And I think that is where my wedding diet stress comes from. I’ve felt like for so long that I wouldn’t deserve to get married unless I’m good enough, and for me (and I suspect so many other women too) that meant being thinner.
But the absolutely crucial point is this, I would NEVER have these thoughts about anyone else. I never look at someone on their wedding day (or any other day for that matter) and thought you should be slimmer. Every bride I know looks amazing on their wedding day. And even though they do look physically beautiful it’s about so much more than that. They are in love and in front of all the people that love them the most in the world. That is the amazing thing about weddings and that it was it’s all about. I can’t wait to marry the man I love. And I wonder what is this other bull shit I’m occupying my head with?
Imagine saying to your friend ‘look you can only get married if you lose this weight, nope don’t care if you think weddings are love and your relationship I’d like you to feel ashamed and embarrassed until you make yourself physically smaller’
You just wouldn’t. No one feels like that about their friends so why the heck do we allow ourselves to feel like this? So this is me making a promise to stop.
Upon hearing I’d brought a traditional dress an acquaintance asked, how I can call myself a feminist if I choose to wear a white dress? This hurt and is so many types of wrong and frustrating but it got me thinking, I think the real question is: How can I call myself a feminist if I feel like I need to change to be allowed to wear a white dress. Feminism is about equality, simple. And I simply wouldn’t let my husband-to-be do this to himself, so I sure as hell won’t do this to myself. Not anymore.