Weight Loss and Weddings

Photography Credit: Made U Look Photography

Fat, fat fat fat fat!” read Martha’s Facebook status. I’d seen updates about her diet plan and weight goals over the past few months and it irked me. In fact anyone talking about weight loss and dieting makes me feel uncomfortable… it’s just one of those things I don’t like being thrust in my face. Diets can be dangerous things. I’ve had personal experience.

But Martha’s statuses upset me particularly because I knew for a fact that only reason she was dieting was to fit into that size 10 Ian Stuart number. Yes, Martha is trying to lose weight for her wedding.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with wanting to look your best on your wedding day, and I’m sure most brides, whatever shape or size, worry about how they’re going to look. I am also well aware that many girls would like to lose weight regardless and that a wedding provides a convenient motivation. This is fine and it’s great to want to be healthy and happy, whatever your shape or size. But the thing that upsets me the most is the way the wedding industry perpetuates the lie that you have to, or should at least consider, losing weight before you walk down the aisle.

I’m expecting this article to ruffle some feathers. But you know what, screw it, sometimes the old birds need to be ruffled. Let’s look at some examples…

Wedding blogs providing weight loss tips and exercise regimens… wedding magazines favouring ‘size 8-10, pretty brides’ for their real wedding features (yes, I heard that from the editor of a wedding magazine with my own ears)… bridal shop owners asking girls if they plan to lose weight before their weddings and allowing them to order dresses 2 sizes too small… or even worse, telling them to not expect to be able to try on a sample dress over a size 12… TV shows dedicated to slimming for your wedding… companies set up with the sole purpose as to ‘help’ brides-to-be slim down… bridal bootcamps… wedding workouts… ‘brideorexia’…!

The whole thing turns my stomach. And I’m not even talking about the extreme examples here – the bridalplasty TV shows or the girl who drip fed herself in the run up to her wedding. Christ no, the ‘accepted’ norms of what is OK to promote related to pre-wedding weight loss are scary enough.

Like this example, which I saw in this week’s issue of Closer Magazine. It actually upset me so much I ripped the page out to share a few choice paragraphs with you…

Former Loose Women panelist Zoe Tyler reveals how she ditched her unhealthy diet to get her stunning bridal body

It’s normally one of the most exciting moments for any bride-to-be, but when TV presenter Zoe Tyler tried on her strapless size 14 wedding dress for the second time last November, she was morified to discover it was too small. But it was the trigger she needed to take action and she went on to drop two dress sizes and 1st 4lb in two months…

Zoe, who’s 5ft 7, weighed 11st before she had her son Jake, now 10, but at the time of her dress fitting in August, she was 12st 2lb and a size 14. Her weight has yo-yoed in recent years thanks to a series of failed weight-loss attempts…

She adds: “When I couldn’t do up the zip on the wedding dress, I was so embarrassed. It made me realise I needed to diet and I was 100 per cent determined to lose weight so it would fit. It left me feeling unattractive, shocked and frustrated. I felt like crying…I was panic stricken…I thought my day, which was seven months away, was going to be ruined because I wouldn’t be able to wear the dress of my dreams…

HOW IS THIS OK?! I don’t know about you, but after reading that I instantly start to feel self-conscious about my own figure and diet. This article, like so many others, perpetuates the warped message that losing weight is something you need to do in order to feel beautiful on your wedding day.

Another example I’ve spotted recently was that a wedding company, who I actually greatly admire, tweeted this week that they were partnering with a very well known weight loss company. The company in question do actively promote a healthy weight loss message, but again, the association between losing weight and doing so for your wedding, to me, feels uncomfortable. I’d actually written the majority of this article before seeing the tweets so the whole irritation with the subject was fresh in my mind, hence why I probably replied voicing my disappointment with the collaboration. However a few of my followers tweeted back in agreement. One of them, wedding photographer and newly engaged Hannah Millard, was even prompted to write her own blog post on the subject.

This post is about something that doesn’t make me happy. I’ve been engaged a matter of days and already the pressure is starting. As I type this, my Facebook ads are as follows:

Lose 2 Stone in 2 Weeks Lose stone and join the diet revolution like everyone else.

Lose 6 Kgs in 2 Wks Keep the kilograms off with these sneaky tricks…

Reach your Wedding Weight Lose the Weight in Just One Week at UKs Most Exclusive Weight Loss Retreats

It’s not just offensive because of the crap grammar.

The pressure is always there from the media to look a certain way or break your heart trying but in my years of using Facebook, I have never seen a Facebook ad for weight loss. Now that I have decided to publish my happy news on there, what I get in return is a never-ending stream of confidence chipping. I can refresh and three or four ads will replace them. Lose 2 stone, slim down, learn this diet trick, no need to go to the gym, secret diet weapons, lose weight, lose inches… chipchipchip. This kind of aggressive advertising isn’t meant to get you the first time you see it, or the second… it’s unrelentingly there, in the corner of your eye.”

Via Hannah Millard Photography

Now listen, I’m certainly not saying the wedding industry or any kind of media outlet are 100% to blame. Just as the media doesn’t cause eating disorders, it also doesn’t generally cause brides to think they need to shift pounds. But what it does do is perpetuate our messed up beliefs that thinner =  more beautiful. And this needs to stop.

NOW.

Unfortunately I don’t see a shift in attitude from the media anytime soon. We buy the magazines and watch the TV shows regardless… they make their money and the bigwigs are happy. But what I do hope is that this article may encourage you to stop, to question and to shift your own attitude. I want to force you to look at the ludicracy of it all. You know your fiance loves you the way you are. You know you won’t be happier if you could only be a different dress size. This knowledge may be deep down and hard to accept, but I know it’s there, inside every single one of you.

Let’s stop the madness. You are all beautiful. Whether you’re a size 4 or a size 24 you’re marrying someone who loves you. Every last inch of you. So let’s not ignore this anymore. Let’s ruffle some feathers and get the debate going. Let’s remember what weddings, and marriages, should be all about and what they most certainly should not.

166 comments

  1. Hey Kat!
    This has been irritating me of late . . . it started when I saw a tweet from an established bridal mag “lose weight without exercising” I was like “noooooo! That’s not healthy promotion, that’s called starvation!!!” And I told them so! – Obviously I didn’t get a reply!!

    I also get lots of email enquiries from brides, and without me saying anything to do with weight or size – promise me that they are losing weight – like they’re doing me a favour, or trying to promote themselves as a well-behaved and obliging bride, and I won’t let them wear one of my dresses if they don’t lose weight.
    And this comes from all sized brides . . . it’s worrying!

    I’d really love to write a piece that is a bit more in depth on this subject, to show brides that it’s really not what the industry wants – well, not the good guys anyway!
    I want to dispel a few myths about bridal shops, diets and exercise and false expectations.

    I realise the demons are always going to be there, but to help just a few brides realise that they only have to please themselves, and do so in a healthy way!

    Is it something you might like to feature? My email is Charlotte@wildenbridelondon.com

    Xx

  2. When I was fifteen stone I was felt drained of all energy, tired all the time and depressed with the amount of sugar in my system. I also did not feel like me; I felt like a stranger in my own body. When I got down to a size 10 I had more energy, I felt like me and was more happier in myself. I smiled more. Don’t get me wrong; I am not advocating that women should be a skinny size zero, as I think its unhealthy and doesn’t look good. But there should be a happy and healthy medium. Just like drug and alcohol addiction there is such a thing as food addiction and even people of so called normal weight can suffer from it as badly as anyone with anorexia, bulimia or obesity.

    we are living in a society where to even be slightly over weight is a crime. I brought a beautiful swing dress from a famous vintage shop, ( which shall remain nameless), and I felt i had to work hard not to be intimidated by the shop assistant as she managed to put me down, by saying that I wouldn’t fit into any of their dresses, (I am a size 12).
    I do think its wrong to put down anyone because if their weight, however, to completely ignore the fact that obese people are in danger of high blood pressure, heart attacks, diabetes etc.. is not helpful or being honest. I am sorry to say this but to the lady that’s a size 24, you’re not being honest with yourself, food does rule your life or you wouldn’t have put so much weight on.
    A relative if mine, who I lived dearly, was over 48 stone and nobody was allowed to even mention it. She never went out, developed cancer, and was unable to have it operated in because of her weight.
    All I am saying is everything in moderation and uts quute nornak for a bride to want to look goid fir ger weddibg

  3. Kat, I love this post. The same logic you apply here to losing weight (or not!) applies to makeup, having your hair done and wearing a style of dress you would never normally choose. I had my an appointment yesterday with my regular hairdresser to try out styles for the wedding. I explained that I have NO TIME on the day itself and that it has to be something I can do myself in the church toilet! She was brilliant and we easily found something that I love, that I know I can reproduce, and that (crucially) means I will still look like me.

    The risk that brides run if they try to look substantially different on that one day from how they usually look is that, among other things, your wedding pictures become yet another unreal standard that you try to live up to. I’ve lived with my proto-husband for a year. He sees me first thing in the morning. He knows exactly what I look like. If I turned up to our wedding squeezed into a tiny dress, wearing weird makeup or with my hair done in some new way, I wouldn’t be fooling anyone – everyone there already knows what I look like. I’m sure he wants me to just look like the woman he fell in love with.

  4. Sophie

    Wow! A brilliant article. I’m not even getting married but your words fill me with confidence. I’m always trying to lose weight and get back to my ‘skinny’ days. But another reader hit the nail on the head. You can be whatever size for love. And my boyfriend loves me as I am, as he met me.

    Amen to rock n roll bride x

  5. Xen

    Just wanted to say what a wonderful article you’ve written; it’s well thought out, clever, interesting and to the point – a fantastic read. I hope that more people read this before they marry, take a good look at themselves and rethink their ‘ideals’ on weight and size. Thank you for this insightful post.

  6. Great post.
    I totally agree that people should not go through the path of starvation, dieting or other extreme ways. That’s why there are a lot of offers and media information from people who don’t actually care about these brides, all they are interested in is money. However, for us (me and my fiancé’s business) every bride is special and unique. We only work with engaged couples and help brides boost their confidence and energy levels. Reaching their optimum health is a journey and improvements in body shape and appearance come quite quickly. You really need to understand the market and what these brides are going through and the necessary balanced healthy eating and exercising will help them not only feeling and look amazing but also get the optimum health for the future pregnancy and lifestyle together.
    Thank you
    Vera

  7. SL

    This is so true.

    I lost weight before my wedding, but not just because I was getting married… I was desperately unhappy and determined I wanted to lose weight before I got married. But I reached the weight I wanted to be a year before we got married and stayed that weight until I got pregnant a few years later – it was a healthy motivation, not being forced. I actually faced the opposite – a woman trying to push me to buy a wedding dress at a wedding fair when I was bigger, and when I said I wanted to lose weight, she told me I wouldn’t – that everyone says they will and no one does. I’ve never forgotten the shame she made me feel and I wish I could have found her afterwards to tell her not to make assumptions about people and what I would and wouldn’t do – she didn’t know me! How dare people in the wedding industry make people feel bad about themselves when they are selling their services to them?!

    When you get married all that matters is that you’re happy in yourself. There is far too much pressure on people to be the “perfect” bride.

  8. Michelle

    As a *bridesmaid* for a good friend I was told at the dress fitting ‘you’ll be wanting to lose a bit of that won’t you’. I was devastated, embarrassed, hated the dress, hated myself. Wasn’t even the bride! It made me really want to say no the next time when my oldest friend asked me to be hers. The wedding industry needs to get it’s priorities straight, in my opinion.

  9. Kate

    Great article and so true. I find the adverts so annoying and also usually complete rubbish content as well.

    I am getting married in five months and over Christmas a relative said to me “I bet you’ll be getting a hula hoop or exercise bike in the new year. Loose that last bit of weight huh?” Outrageous comments like that are commonplace. While I am all for healthy, happy lifestyle, I really would like the assumption this has to be the way forward when you are getting married. X

  10. Katherine

    I completely agree that brides-to-be shouldn’t be pressured into losing weight, and it’s a tragedy that weddings and weight loss have become so intrinsically linked nowadays.

    However, I disagree with your reaction to Zoe Tyler’s situation. She was trying on her dress for the second time, so I assume it fitted the first time. Of course she’d now be mortified that it didn’t fit – anyone would be distressed at finding out their perfect dress no longer fitted them. Anyone with 7 months to go would be pretty upset in that situation.

    I think it’s absolutely appalling when brides and (even more so) bridesmaids are just expected to lose weight for a wedding. You are what size you are, and should only lose weight if it’s what you really want.

    Like SL, I did lose weight before I got married, but not because of the wedding. I was unhealthy and unhappy, and I reached my target weight a year before I got married. It was then the stress of possible being too skinny for my wedding dress that I panicked about!

    Unfortunately, people put so much pressure on how the bride looks, you can become totally absorbed (and terrified) in looking perfect, and that shouldn’t be what it’s about. If you’re overweight, but happy, good for you! That’s how you should be on your wedding day.

  11. Mallory

    I couldnt agree more. My dream dress didnt fit so I went on a 500 calorie a day began diet and lost 30lbs in 30 days for my wedding and then on my honeymoon decided to eat normall and was in horrible pain and went to the ER ony to find out that I needed emergency gallbladder removal surgery and it was caused by crash dieting and losing too much weight to fast.

  12. Lauren Herd

    The happiest I felt on the journey to our wedding day was the day I decided to stop trying to lose weight for my wedding. I realised after a year that there was so much more to concentrate on in the planning run up, that was more important than my waistline. Im really comfortable with how I looked on the day. I didn’t lose a pound for it and with the assistance of a good seamstress the dress was perfect.

  13. Joanne

    It is now 2016 and I am coming up to the time where I have to start wedding dress shopping and to say I am dreading it is an understatement. I am a size 16 and have been around the same weight for over 2years, my partner proposed to me last year and now I am in a total panic about even the thought of trying on a wedding dress! I’m not getting married till next May, the media and wedding industry put so much pressure on women to be that ‘perfect’ size 8/10 and make women feel worthless for being any size higher. I recently went to a wedding fayre and was approached by a ‘plus-size’ wedding dress stall & I wanted the floor to swallow me up as I felt SO embarrassed and annoyed at myself for fitting that stereotype. When really I should embrace who I am even though the ‘plus-size’ category annoys the hell out of me! We are all women, we shouldn’t have the pressure of having to all fit the same size!

  14. Amen. If you want to lose weight for your wedding, or beach vacation or any other big special event, then of course you should go for it, but you certainly shouldn’t feel obligated to do so. And if you do, don’t resort to these absurd crash diets and other kinds of nonsense. I mean seriously, drip feeding? I would hope that everyone can see what total insanity that is.

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