If you do want to start incorporating more movement into your life in the run-up to your wedding, I want to introduce you to two concepts embedded in the anti-diet movement – joyful movement and body inclusivity.
If there’s one thing I know to be true, it’s that as soon as you start planning a wedding, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you need to change your body. One day you’re sitting on your sofa watching Netflix with your cutie, then a proposal happens and BAM! Suddenly you’re signing up to a PT or jogging before work and buying an outfit three sizes too small as an ‘incentive’. Yikes! (Please don’t do this last one, it’s a recipe for many, many anxiety tears.)
I get why this happens, though. The pressure to have some sort of ‘wedding body transformation’ is real. Every trad wedding mag, subtly or not, pushes the message that a wedding diet is something to be expected, and when I was shopping for my own dress, the dressmaker commented that ‘Everyone loses weight before the big day’. BUT WHY?!
‘Looking your best’ on your wedding day genuinely doesn’t have to kickstart a pursuit of weight loss. You can look the shiniest, glowiest, most polished and photo-ready version of you (if that’s your bag) WITHOUT shrinking or buffing your bod so much that you look like a different person on your big day. You do not need to be smashing it, ripping it, tearing it up or punishing yourself to get the benefits of moving your body more.
The term ‘joyful movement’ means choosing exercise that gives you a sense of pleasure or fun, rather than focusing on results such as goals or body changes. It’s about how the movement makes you FEEL, which can seem like a radical shift when we live in a society that’s dominated by before and after photos.
One of the best things you can do to ensure your wedding is as sustainable as possible is to work with local small suppliers who model genuine sustainability in their own businesses.
More couples than EVER are showing how much they care about the planet by putting sustainability at the heart of their wedding planning. This is GREAT NEWS because if we all don’t take a long look at how we’ve been living and make some changes, we’ll allllll be effected.
It’s no wonder that a 2021 study from The University of Bath found that 75% of their respondents said they felt the ‘future was frightening’. It is scary to hear what the scientists are saying and think about how climate change will impact our lives if humanity can’t change the course it’s on.
It is daunting, but taking action is the number one way to counter any eco-anxiety you might be feeling and there are HUNDREDS of ways to make your wedding so super sustainable that you’ll have some serious bragging rights. This issue of the magazine is a great place to start collecting lots of ideas!
One of the key things you can do is support businesses that care about their workers and how they produce the products and services they sell. The key to finding suppliers with the right ethical credentials is to do your research and ask a LOT of questions. Where are my flowers grown? Where is my dress material sourced from? How are the workers treated? Where’s my food grown? How is food waste dealt with?
It can feel overwhelming and sadly there’s a LOT of sustainability ‘greenwashing’ going on out in the world (meaning lots of right words being said with not enough action to back it up). However, here are four fabulous suppliers who have sustainability at the forefront of their businesses. Hopefully their stories will inspire you to find the right people local to you:
Wedding dress shopping should be fun an exciting and empowering experience, but what if you have body hang ups (so, erm, that’s all of us then)?
So, you’re getting married, yay! The excitement of saying yes, telling your friends and family, finding a venue and finding something fabulous to wear. It should all be so… magical… right?
Truthfully, and perhaps you’re in this phase right now, wedding planning can be a bitch.
It’s not unusual for equal measures of (if not more) tears of frustration to feature alongside the tears of joy in the run up to the big day. The pressure of ‘the PERFECT day’ is intensely, and sadly, oh so real.
Perhaps nowhere is the stress higher than on what brides ‘should’ look like. Grooms, you sort of got it covered in the suit department, although I recognise that this doesn’t mean that you don’t also feel stressed out by your wardrobe choices. There just isn’t the level of expectation on masc folx as there is on femmes.
We live in a society saturated with ‘diet culture’, this is every message that tells you that you must look a certain way to be happy, successful and valued in this life. Currently, we have a beauty standard that is *obsessed* with thinness. We cannot move without being told that our bodies need to change. We’re sold products, services and lies that we need to take up less space, be small and get our bodies in check.
Diet culture is grounded in patriarchy, ableism, healthism, colourism, colonialism, euro-centric BS beauty ideals, gender-normative stereotypes and capitalism. Diet culture is linked to Instagram ‘wellness’ culture, gym culture and every other sneaky sub-category around that places a certain type of body as having more value than another. Diet culture needs to die.
Sadly, it’s alive and kicking and making us all feel shit about ourselves every goddamn beautiful day. While we should be #feelingblessed for simply existing as one of nature’s greatest marvels, that’s to say, just being here being you is a rad AF miracle. It’s waaaaay too easy to compare yourself to an Instagram post by one of the Kardashians’ (seen in society as the pinnacle of our current beauty standard), look in the mirror and decide that you and your body aren’t measuring up.
Oh, 2021, what a YEAR! But did you know, historically, periods of catastrophe have inspired celebration and exuberance once they’re over? After the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic, for example, came the Roaring Twenties! Ready to leave the shitshow of 2020-2021 behind you and forge onto 2022, making it the best year EVER? Read on…
Well, I don’t know about you but I can quite easily say that the last two years was like being repeatedly hit in the face with a wet fish (and I’m vegetarian, so this image is deeply unpleasant.) It’s safe to say that there’s been unprecedented plans cancelled, events ruined and moments of joy stolen in a whirlwind of chaos that is the pandemic.
Whether you had a date to tie the knot in the past two years and need to rearrange, or whether you had hoped to get married and need to rethink, or whether you had hoped for a big wedding and now you’re considering eloping… there’s certainly been a LOT of replanning happening!
This feeling wasn’t just confined to getting married either, there’s few people I know who have been asking themselves really big questions about their lives. If there’s one thing that Covid has done, its strip back pretty much everything to its bare bones.
Suddenly, there’s space to look around our homes and ask ourselves whether we actually like the colour of the living room? Or do I like my job enough that it’s worth the 3-hour commute each day? How good are my friends really? And ultimately, are the goals that I’ve been setting for myself the ones I really want?
This feeling of ‘WTF am I doing with my life?’ is prime fodder for this time of year. January is miserable for a few reasons 1. It’s dark 2. It’s cold 3. All the ‘New Year, New You’ BS. The shelves of bookshops are straining under the weight of self-help advice and magazines are awash with the latest fad diet which will profess that all your feelings of dissatisfaction will go away if we could drop a dress size (or three). It’s not that goal setting is inherently bad. Setting goals can motivate us to achieve a new hobby, set a savings target or even get us across a marathon line (you legends).
However, goal setting can also be a recipe for focusing too much on one area of our life and setting us up for nothing but self-flagellation, critical thinking and feelings of failure. Yikes! And this was before a pandemic where everything fell out of our control!
So, before you start buying a new bullet journal, putting up that wall planner and cutting up those magazines for a vision board, hear me out.
Perhaps the secret to a happier, healthier, more joyful 2022 is not to set 100 new habits or plan the big day of your dreams… but to throw away the end point all together?
It’s January – that joyless month when we pack up the tinsel, hoover up the pine needles, brush the crumbs from our mouths and invariably promise that this is the year we’ll become new people.
There’s genuine pressure to try the latest fad diet or set some unrealistic resolutions for everyone. But add an impending wedding date into the mix and suddenly the stress of ‘new year, new you’ is very REAL.
Sadly, we live in a society where looking a certain way is placed at a higher importance than almost anything else. It’s more important than how kind you are, how many things you’ve accomplished, what a good friend you or even reaching your career ambitions.
Reaching a goal weight or achieving killer abs is seemingly be placed over and above anything else. We live in ableist, diet (read: thin) obsessed world that holds up one standard of (westernised) beauty. Ooph. And as a result, it’s very difficult to escape the message that maybe you aren’t measuring up.
When you’re planning your wedding it’s normal to want to look your best. But when traditional magazines are full of tall, thin, white women with glossy hair, spray tans and Ken Doll looking grooms, it leaves us thinking that we need to erase all our quirks, lumps and bumps. This is on top of the added pressure from family members or friends with their ‘helpful’ comments on what a bride ‘should’ be like. I can’t tell you the amount of people who asked me if I was really going to keep my pink hair on the big day. *Eye roll* Yes, it was never in question.
At the time we’re about to walk down an aisle to say the big ‘I DO’, you’d think we’d all become MORE secure in our worthiness of love – but because of all noise from friends, family, partners, trad bridal magazines and society – it’s easy for quite the opposite to happen. Just notice how much messaging there is around weddings being ‘perfect’ … ‘the perfect day’, ‘the perfect dress’, ‘the perfect bride’. Yikes.
If there’s one piece of advice I would give any couple getting married it’s this… get a bangin’ photographer. That’s not to say you can’t also have Uncle Raj or Cousin Joe also take some to ‘build up their portfolio’, but I urge you, if budget allows, hire a professional.
I say this because a professional photographer will make you look like rock stars. I love having my photo taken by a pro because even though they’re a relative stranger, it makes me feel safer. As a recovered insecure person, I still get nervous about the end results so I like minimising the risk of a ‘bad shot’. Photos hold power over our self-esteem unlike anything else I can think of (trumped only by video maybe).
Ooph! How quickly a badly taken snap can steal your joy.
Recently I was at my Mum’s house and had the urge to look through some old photo albums (remember them?!) Some random photographs of me aged 18 years old fell out of one of the books. In these photos I’m the fattest I’ve ever been.
I’m sorry to say that even as a body acceptance coach and Anti Diet Riot Club Co-director my immediate reaction was horror. I hid the photos away quickly because I felt genuine disgust at how I looked. I continued to go about my day but I couldn’t stop thinking about these photos.
I realised that having spent years talking to other people about how to make peace with photographs, it was time for me to practice once again what I preach! I went back to the albums and took the photos home with me.
I want to share my tips with you because I believe that ALL photos taken on your wedding day should be enjoyed whether they’re ‘perfect’ or not.
You’d have to be living under a rock to notice that the world is kinda on fire at the moment! The majority of folks acknowledge that climate change is happening now and that future predictions look, quite frankly, pretty terrifying. The good news is that taking action is the number one way to counter any anxiety or despair you might be feeling and there’s heaps of ways to do this on your big day.
Happily, it’s never been easier to be a change maker because there are now so many badass green alternatives out there. You really don’t need to be planning a hippy boho wedding to be putting on a spectacularly sustainable do, and you never know, you might just inspire other couples to do the same! (As an additional added bonus, you might find that putting the planet first can actually SAVE you money, see our tips below).
Let’s get one thing clear, we can’t recycle our way out of the climate emergency. Reports from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) emphasise that the real push for change this late in the game needs to come from governments and big industries, so join a local lobbying campaign and hassle your local leaders to take faster stronger action. However, consumer power is real. Use your voice by choosing wisely where to spend your hard-earned dosh.
If you’re on your own self-love journey (yay!) and want to share it with your friends so they too can nix the diet chat and self-loathing, read on…
It’s near impossible to avoid internalising the message that certain bodies (young, thin, white, able-bodied) are more worthy than others. Diet culture and the beauty standard are like the two evil step sisters ruining many of our Cinderella stories.
Even if you’re one of the lucky ones who has managed to opt out of diet culture it’s still a daily battle to love yourself.
At Rock n Roll Bride, we’re proud that you, the readers, are pretty switched on when it comes to knowing that happiness isn’t a number on a scale, but we also know that being body positive is still a niche compared to the amount of people believing that their body needs changing.
How can you create a more positive group of people around you? That’s what this article is all about! Your friend might be a few steps behind you on their bopo journey or might not have even taken their first step.
Before we crack on though, it’s important to note that a) you can never force change in anyone else, you can only change yourself (and that’s powerful) and b) we can never fully know the reality of another person’s experience, so staying compassionate and non-judgmental is absolutely essential when putting out your own body positive attitude.
Here are twenty small ways which can inspire positive change in your friendship group and family.
Regardless of how well or not well you think you did at adapting to change in the last year, the fact that you’re here reading this shows me that you made it. Congratulations!
We’re still not quite be out of the woods yet, and making plans (especially big wedding ones, particularly if you’ve had them dashed hard before) can feel really scary. What if you book something, get really excited about it and then find that everything has to be cancelled or postponed again?
I hear you honey, those thoughts are real and valid. It’s a tough time to try and get a big mixed generation group together (“Auntie Doris is 98, we can’t have her in the same room as little Jimmy’s 5-year-old-potential-germ-carrying-sticky-fingers!”) But here’s the thing, change is happening to us all the time.
We may wish the hands of time to stop turning but unless you happen to have Bernard’s watch*, we all have to deal with those calendar pages whipping away. (*For those of you who were not a small child in Britain in the 90s, this is an obscure reference to a BBC programme where a boy could stop time with his watch so as to get up to adventures and mischief and still be home in time for tea.)
Life is change. We must deal with changes in our relationships, mental health, communities, finances, physical health, job… there’s not a single place in our lives that isn’t subject to change. The problem is we need a balance of familiar and new, otherwise things feel incredibly stressful (it’s called Future Shock). 2020 was too much change, too quickly and that’s when many of us struggle to cope.
This is where resilience comes in. Researchers used to think that resilience was genetic. We all know someone who manages to cope with anything, right? We all used to believe that some people were just more able to cope with change than others. However, what the research has discovered is that resilience can be taught. If you haven’t heard, it turns out that our brains are malleable and we’re able to develop new neural pathways all the time. Look up neuroplasticity, it’s very cool. This scientific breakthrough means the saying is wrong, you can teach an old dog new tricks. Hurrah!
The question is, what does best practice in coping with change look like? (No, there’s no wine involved!) If you’re wobbly about change, here are a few healthy practices for increasing your level of resilience.
Social media, what a wonderful way to keep up to date with your pals, have infinite knowledge at the click of a button and lift your spirits via hilarious cat memes. And nowadays, it’s also one of the go-to places for gathering inspiration for your big day. But while Pinterest and Instagram are a magical wonderland of pastel colourways, confetti, rainbow cakes and pom poms galore, there is also the real danger of falling to the dark side: Overwhelm, comparison, despair and a desperate need for validation from strangers.
Let’s take a look at how to stay sane around social media during wedding planning, so that your time online lights you up (like those neon signs you’ve been eyeing up) instead of weighing you down (like your partner’s mate who offered to DJ but has gone rogue on your playlist selection).
The average person in the UK spends 24 hours a week online (twice as long as ten years ago) and on average, checks their phone every 12 minutes! Humans are social animals so it’s no surprise that we’re attracted to social media and the feelings of being connected. So, what happens when we scroll? When we’re checking our social media feeds, we’re triggering the yummy reward centres of our brains. All those comments, likes and follows give us a big dose of dopamine, which makes us feel good. The problem is, we’re all getting way too attached to this pleasure system and it’s leaving us wanting more and more.
And it’s all too easy to think that everyone else is living a life that’s much more fun, colourful and put together than yours.
There are parts of our brains which are super ancient. These parts are all the time thinking about how we’re measuring up in our tribe and cannot differentiate between a photo of your Auntie Beverly (i.e. someone in your tribe) and Beyonce at the Superbowl. Think about that for a moment. This is why we have to get tech savvy around the amount of time and what type of images we’re feeding ourselves.
What can begin as a fun way to collect ideas for your wedding, can easily tail spin into the ‘compare and despair’ trap leaving you feeling like you’re not measuring up against everyone else.
Nothing is more important than your mental health, so do not fear brides-to-be, here are some handy tips to turn your online life from woe to wow.
Wanting to have a ‘Instagrammable’ or magazine-worthy wedding isn’t a bad thing, but how do we stop ourselves from getting too swept up in making our wedding ‘cool’ and forgetting what the day is really about?
I have a confession for you. If I was to plan another wedding today there’s quite a lot of things I’d do differently. Don’t get me wrong, my wedding was an amazing day and one full of personal creative touches. I was beyond thrilled when it made it onto the Rock n Roll Bride blog (who knew that I’d be writing for Kat all these years later!) but looking back, I totally lost my head to wedding inspo. I stressed myself out unnecessarily because in my heart of hearts, I wanted it to be the coolest, most Instagrammable wedding any of my guests had ever been to and here’s another confession, I dreamed it would make it onto a blog.
If I think hard about that, that’s kinda wild, right? Why should we care whether or not our guests think our wedding is ‘cool’ or social media worthy? Why did bust my bridesmaid butts in a homemade pom pom sweatshop simply to create something as good as the professional one I saw on Pinterest?
The thing is, I hold my hands up and say I got entirely swept away in the (alternative) wedding circus. Yup, I really wanted to get married and not only that, I really, really wanted a fabulous wedding.
The biggest budget I’ve ever had for a party? Er, yes please! I wanted the perfect dress that suited my ‘quirky’ personality, the perfect venue, the perfect wedding favours, the perfect entertainment all topped off with fire dancers (for real, this happened).
There really is no other day like your wedding day. It’s the ultimate day for ‘all things you’. But it’s not just that. It’s also the excuse to throw your dream party where none of your close friends and family are allowed to complain (to your face anyway).
This is both a joy and a curse because what starts out as a day all about love can turn into a monster event for 250 people with bells, whistles and a horse and carriage.
Take it from me, I wanted a Rock n Roll Bride wedding of the highest order. I wanted my wedding to be the most fun, beautiful and memorable ‘do’ that any of my guests had ever been to. I wanted the best photographer, the best venue, the best flowers and the best entertainment. I even wanted (and was lucky enough to get) a pink Cadillac to arrive in. Not to mention, I wanted a free bar so that everyone would get drunk and have a good time.
I was very lucky to have a beautiful day. But looking back at the whole experience, should I ever have to plan another wedding (for anyone), I would say…chill. out. babe. You are only in competition with yourself (regardless of what you may think) and sadly competing in the ‘Competitive Games of You’ is really a losing battle as the expectations we put on ourselves are far higher than we’d ever put on anyone else. During this unprecedented time, it’s likely that some things in your life may have to change, that likely includes your wedding plans, too.
If you’ve been dreaming about your big day since you were little, this might be a huge blow. Even if you haven’t, I know how easy it is, once you decide to get hitched, to get totally swept away in all the Instagram confetti inspiration. When we hold our wedding up as having to be ‘THE BEST DAY OF OUR LIFE’ but come on now, that’s a lot of pressure. It means that when something goes wrong (and it likely will), the impact can feel devastating. There is so much pressure to have ‘the perfect day’ that you can lose sight of the reason you wanted to get married in the first place…LOVE!
HERE ARE MY TOP TIPS FOR NAVIGATING CHANGE AND SHIFTING YOUR EXPECTATIONS:
REMEMBER THE REASON YOU WANTED TO GET MARRIED
I know it sounds ridiculous, but trust me, I barely saw my husband on my big day. I actually barely spent any time with my best friends because there were so many other people that I felt I needed to talk to. Write out your ‘why’:
Why do you really want to get married? Hopefully it’s about more than a big party. Then write out what you want to get out of your wedding (maybe include your partner in these
exercises, too!) Is it that you want to declare your love, or do you mostly want to see all the people you love together? How important is it to have a photo that you absolutely love of your grandma? Do you want to have a memory of you and your loved ones boogying on the dance floor? Let these be your North Stars when things start to change. When the planning seas get choppy, look at your list and let it guide you.
THINK OF THE ONE DETAIL THAT’S GOING TO MAKE YOUR HEART SOAR (AND LOOSEN UP ON THE REST)
It’s very hard to feel breezy about things when we’re holding the rope so tight on all our plans…so this is your invitation to ease your grip a bit. The likelihood is, your budget is not going to stretch to all that your heart thinks it needs for the big day. This can feel disheartening. In fact, when things change and we don’t want them to, it can really bloody suck! So, think of one really amazing detail that’s non-negotiable i.e. you really want an arch to get married under. Great, focus on this detail and go bananas on it. Make it THE thing you can feel most proud of. Then decide that whatever happens to the other plans, it really doesn’t matter.
2020 always felt like it was going to be numerologically significant number, didn’t it? I think it’s fair to say that it’s really not disappointing us! We are living through a bizarre and surreal moment in history, one that could be straight out of a Hollywood movie. While I’ve been heartened by the rise in community spirit, and have been so grateful that technology has lessened the impact of isolation (the internet, as always, proving to be a creative hotbed for humour), I have found myself despairing at the onslaught of exercise videos, healthy cooking advice and the normalisation of fatphobic ‘jokes’ and memes.
My coaching clients have shared that it’s not just the people who they expected might share such hurtful, thoughtless ‘jokes’, but even close friends who they had thought would be more considerate and respectful. Let’s not even fall down the rabbit hole talking about poor Adele.
For a vast chunk of the population, it appears that dying a horrible death isn’t their biggest fear during COVID-19, but rather it’s putting on the ‘quarantine 15’.
While the body positivity movement has made some strong inroads into diet culture, the tendrils of the thin ideal and fear of fat run deep. There is, sadly, still a lot of work to do before the poisonous idea that gaining weight is ‘bad’ and losing weight is ‘good’ can be fully debunked.
Come on people, it’s 2020. The future is here! Aren’t we past fat jokes now? Can’t we see the hurt they cause? And moreover, can’t we see that fatphobia is a form of discrimination? And the worship of thinness, especially in the tabloids (again, poor Adele), keeps us thinking that this is what we should all be striving for.
For me, I’m also noticing a total lack of regard that ‘jokes’ about overeating, restrictive eating and/or binge eating could be incredibly triggering for people recovering from, or coping with, disordered eating or eating disorders.
So, why has there been such a rise in diet culture?
It comes down to people grasping at things they feel they can control in a moment of collective uncertainty within the construct of a social narrative that says we must all be shrinking ourselves to be happy.
Diet culture is so ingrained in our shared culture that even during a time of unprecedented crisis it still permeates into our behaviour.
We are sold the idea that our bodies are easy to control if we can only be disciplined enough. We are also sold the myth that there is one correct way to have a body via the beauty standard (which currently puts thin, white, able bodies at the top of the hierarchy).
We are unable to move, eat and live how we would choose to at the moment, and a lot of people are trying to counter this by creating content that gives them the illusion of control.
Make no mistake, ‘health’ is often diet culture dressed up in lycra. Today, we are meant to be striving for ‘health’, which is, let’s be honest, frequently equated with gaining the ‘perfect body’. In reality, true health is holistic and a far wider reaching concept than a number on the scales. You can be thin and unhealthy and fat and healthy. Health should also include our mental health and we know that diet culture is a shit show for that.
Every time ‘should’, ‘ought’ or ‘must’ pop up in your mind with regards to food – challenge them. Is it just your pesky inner critic beating you up? Tell that bitch to leave the room, because judgement has no place in the most stressful and challenging moment we’ve experienced in generations!
I know that putting on weight might feel like a disaster if you have a wedding coming up, but it really isn’t unless you let it take over in your mind.
What has brought me a lot of solace during this time is seeing lockdown as the ultimate collective act of love. We have stayed home to protect the people we love, to keep the key workers from being too overwhelmed and to keep ourselves safe. If you manage to have a wedding this year, don’t let any changes in your body get you down. Focus on the reasons you wanted to get married, focus on having your favourite people around you or being able to sneak off on your own…and focus on the love. Because, at the end of the day, that’s really all that matters.