Toxic Anti-Fat Bias & Diet Culture in the Wedding Industry

Lauren Fisher Photography

December 14, 2021

Jennifer Rollin is an eating disorder therapist and founder of The Eating Disorder Center, which provides eating disorder therapy in MD, VA, DC, NY, PA, FL, and CA. Recently married, she shares her experience of navigating diet culture and anti-fat bias during her planning process.

One of the best days of my life was when (my now husband) Mark, got down on one knee and asked me to marry him at the same park where I first saw him.

I began wedding planning fairly quickly after and saw first-hand the toxic diet culture and anti-fat bias which is abundant in the wedding industry.

It’s important to note that I have privilege in a variety of areas-including thin privilege (for example, I was able to find a wedding dress in my size in stores) and that navigating the wedding industry is far more challenging for those who are more marginalised.

From seamstresses who ask if you are planning to lose weight before the wedding, to wedding dress stores not carrying sizes for folks in larger bodies, to TikTok videos talking about ‘shredding for the wedding,’ to some brides buying wedding dresses in sizes that are too small for their current body, diet culture and anti-fat bias is everywhere in the wedding industry.

As an eating disorder therapist and someone who personally recovered from my own eating disorder, I knew going into the wedding planning process that I had no plans to diet or try to lose weight leading up to my wedding. This honestly felt relieving as I didn’t put any pressure on myself to try to change my body leading up to the wedding (nor do I put this kind of pressure on myself in my life in general). I also ended up having my wedding dress taken out and was totally cool with that.

It was so nice to be able to fully enjoy the time leading up to the wedding-including an incredible tasting of our wedding food and desserts.

To be clear, I do not blame individuals who are caught up in dieting, I blame the systems of oppression that brainwash people into believing that their value comes from being smaller.

Additionally, there are systems that make a lot of money off of brides feeling inadequate in terms of their size i.e. ‘bridal boot camps,’ and the multi-billion-dollar diet industry as a whole.

At one of my dress fittings, the seamstress altering my dress asked, “Are you planning to lose weight for the wedding?” To which I responded a resounding “Nope!” To be clear, I don’t blame her. I blame the systems of oppression that have contributed to folks trying to shrink their bodies before their wedding becoming so normalised.

Additionally, I remember while trying on my wedding dress for the first time-the shop owner walked by and commented on how ‘slimming’ it was. She probably thought that this would be a way to ‘sell me the dress’, however, all it did was leave a bad taste in my mouth due to the anti-fat bias in that statement. To be clear, if I was in a larger body, I know I would have received more comments on my body and this is 100% NOT OK.

Freedom is worth it.

Whether it’s recovering from an eating disorder or getting off of the diet culture bandwagon. Working towards food freedom and body acceptance is so worth it-in terms of folks being able to live a life according to their true values.

For me, my wedding was the best day of my life thus far.

I got to marry Mark who is the love of my life and my biggest supporter, celebrate and make memories with him as well as our friends and families, share meaningful personal vows, and end it by enjoying white and gold frosted donuts together.

I am endlessly grateful that my day wasn’t colored by an eating disorder/fixation on my body.

It took work for me to get here (and therapy!) AND it was so incredibly worth it.

About Jennifer Rollin

Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C: is an eating disorder therapist and founder of The Eating Disorder Center, which provides eating disorder therapy in MD, VA, DC, NY, PA, FL, and CA. And eating disorder recovery coaching worldwide. She is the co-author of the book ‘The Inside Scoop on Eating Disorder Recovery’ and has written on publications including The Huffington Post and Psychology Today.