Author Archives: Harri Rose

Dealing with Fatphobia on your Wedding Day & Beyond

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.

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Set Healthy Boundaries With your Family (Whatever Family Looks Like to You)

Before we get started, I want to caveat this piece by saying I’m going to be using some of the traditional family names such as mum, dad, grandparent and sibling, but please feel free to input whatever caregiver is relevant in your world. These rules for good boundaries apply to anyone if your life including the families we make ourselves. Essentially, whatever ‘family’ looks like in your world, these rules will help you feel happy and sane before, during and after your ‘I Do’s’.

Oh families… Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em! There can be few more challenging times to manage family relationships than when you find yourself planning a wedding.

There’s not only the trickiness of the guest list and the sudden wishes of your dad to invite his important work clients see his little girl get married (this actually happened to someone I know) but there might also a bit of parental money put into the pot, and that can mean a fine balancing act of their wishes being granted and your wishes, full stop.

It’s tough getting a group of (let’s be honest, often awkward) people to wear what you would like them to, eat what you would like them to and listen to whatever music you would like them to! So, here’s some advice on how to put in healthy boundaries:

Learn to feel when a boundary has been crossed

We’re very conditioned, especially with any parental figures, to go along with things. If you’ve been told as a child not to question a parent’s authority (i.e. ‘because I say so’) then, even as an adult it can be very hard to stand up for your needs. If you’re not sure when it’s time to set a boundary, take note of when something trips your emotions into play. You might feel uneasy, angry, sad or anxious. Physical sensations might be your belly dropping, heart increasing and dry throat. Give yourself permission (and space) to feel your feelings and these sensations because they’re trying to tell you something. Important side note: Anything too much for you to deal with on your own, then please seek out professional support.

Be clear about your needs

Before having any sort of conversation with your family, work out what your needs are and write them down. Would you prefer your sibling not be in the bridal party because you’d rather just have friends? (They’ll get over it). Do you need your dad to not walk you down the aisle because you don’t believe in that tradition? (He’ll get over it) Would you prefer your mum to not see your outfit before the big day? (A biggie, but she’ll also get over it).

All of these needs, and whatever list you come up with, are worthy of respect. Boundaries are there to make us feel safe and comfortable. Without them, we feel unsafe and uncomfortable. Having the courage to communicate our needs and set a boundary is more loving than pretending something is okay when it isn’t. Not communicating how you feel can lead to resentment and even pulling away from the relationship entirely. Don’t let that happen. Regardless of whether it’s a family member or not – no one has the right to make you feel uncomfortable (in any situation, not just planning a wedding, ya feel me babe?)

Be brave

That being said, THIS STUFF IS HARD! When your mum has her heart set on a swing band and two tables of ‘her girls’ coming to see you get hitched, it’s very hard to stand up for the vision of the day you want (which you want filled with your friends!) You’re not alone in finding this stuff really scary and potentially confrontational. We get scared that the person will be hurt or angry (they probably will, more on that in a mo’) and we get scared they won’t like us or worse, that the relationship will end.

Intrusiveness and judgement are both characteristics of family communication. It takes balls to put a line in the sand and say no more. Show yourself some kindness, take some deep breaths then look at your list of needs. Say it with me: MY NEEDS ARE VALID.

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How to be a Confidence Queen

There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to be the centre of attention in life, however on your wedding day it can be kinda tricky not to be.

Everyone is there because they love you and your partner so It’s inevitable that they’re going to want to spend a little bit of time with you, take your photo (because you look incredible) and shower you with compliments. The amount of attention can leave even the most confident person feeling overwhelmed, but don’t give up on your dream day just yet.

There are a million reasons why getting over your ‘confidence wobbles’ is worth it for a wedding, for example: Seeing the look of love in your partner’s eyes when you see them at the end of the aisle, getting ready with your best friends, sharing a special moment with your mum or mad (if you have one that you’d fond of), seeing your friends throw shapes at the party of your dreams that all your friends have to come to (even if it’s a death metal or rainbow sparkle theme they would on any other day not agree to).

There’s no getting around it, for one day only you’re going to have to learn to love the limelight. To help get you through, I’ve got some killer tips to help even the most introverted babes.

Utilise your bridesmaids

This is your buffering crew! Give your pals strict instructions to save you from certain situations. Arm them with a list of people you would rather avoid getting stuck talking to (sorry not sorry, Auntie Doreen) or perhaps simply tell them that if they see you lost in a sea of people, they are to throw you a life raft immediately. If you don’t have a secret hand gesture, now is the time to make one.

Instruct your photographer

It’s likely that even if you don’t like being at the centre of it all, you’re going to want to capture something of this magical day. In my experience, investing in a photographer is one of the best things to spend your budget on. A professional photographer can not only make you look like a movie star but they’re also used to dealing with drunken wedding crowds, and they can follow any instructions you give about shots you do or don’t want. Don’t want to spend hours doing a thousand traditional family portraits? Don’t do them then. You can even ask a good photographer not to take any formal photos and just capture the whole day without even knowing that they’re there. You don’t even have to look down the lens of a camera in order to receive a magical set of memories back if you don’t want to!

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