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.
I’ve watched Say Yes to The Dress with my mum for years, so when the first big COVID lockdown ended and all the bridal boutiques were only allowing one or two people to accompany the bride, I felt fine about not taking a big entourage. More often than not, a big group can end in tears, and not the I-just-found-my-dream-dress kind! My auntie is a keen dressmaker, and generously gifted me a budget for my wedding dress, so I went with her and my mum.
To start with, for me, wearing white (or ivory, whatever) is always how I’ve pictured myself on my wedding day. Not because I want to present myself as pure and celebrate my pre-marriage chastity, but because it’s what I want to do. I also want to wear a veil. Not because I want to demonstrate modesty in the presence of God and my future husband, but because they feel fabulous and look amazing. That’s just my personal approach. Whatever anyone wants to wear on their wedding day, if it makes them feel their most confident, comfortable and happy, they should just do it.
Besides colour, there were four things I wanted to be sure of about my dress:
1. I wanted it to be made by an ethical, environmentally conscious brand that values its employees.
2. I wanted a dress that worked with the parts of my body I am not confident about, without feeling caged-in by corsetry and boning.
3. Given that this is the most expensive item of clothing I’ll ever own – and the fact that wearing anything just once is neither sustainable or responsible, even if it is a wedding dress – I wanted to be able to repurpose the dress and wear it again.
4. I wanted it to make me feel like Galadriel, elf queen of Lothlórien… because I’m a massive geek.
For me, the place that offered all of these things was Katya Katya in London. Before I went to Katya Katya, however, I went to Maisie Darling in Lutterworth. My fiancé and I are having a humanist ceremony, which is still not considered a legal marriage in England or Wales (lots of petitions to sign online about that idiocy if you want to look into it). To get the legal bit done we’re heading to the registry in my hometown the day before the big day. I was planning to wear a dress I already own for this, but my auntie’s gift means I’ve been able to find a wedding dress for this ceremony too. I plan to sell this dress after the wedding (on stillwhite.com or bridalreloved.co.uk) and will be donating the money to Girls Not Brides, a global partnership committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls all over the world to fulfil their potential.
When I first saw Katya Katya dresses on Pinterest, I fell in love. And when I discovered their strong ethos – in-house production exclusively using fabrics from Italy and France to reduce ecological footprint; ensuring great working conditions for employees and paying them all a national living wage; offering a dress-shortening service after the wedding so the dress can be worn again – I knew without doubt that I wanted to find my dress with them. Not only that, but pretty much all the elements of their dresses are interchangeable. For example, as someone who doesn’t feel confident about her upper arms, Katya Katya will be adding sleeves to my dress. Female-led, Katya Katya really seem to understand how to help their brides feel their most confident.
There’s no shortage of married people who’ll tell you how bloody stressful it is to plan a wedding. These same people shall be quite forthcoming with things they’d do differently if they had their time over, and really, really, REALLY often, it’s changing *something* so they didn’t carry that stress into the big day.
All humans and many animals know that you cannot simply turn off stress like it was a light or your computer or your sex drive after watching Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher in the latest season of The Crown. If it were so easy, stress would really not be a thing, now would it? We’d just turn ourselves off, do a restart and voila! Stress Free Sally is back in da house, never to think of Gillan/Thatcher ever, ever again *shivers uncontrollably*.
So, let’s talk about how to have less stress and way, way more fun. Afterall, regrets are the pits and honestly, a waste of future-you’s precious energy. It really is a wonderful, beautiful, special time for you and your fab partner, your sweetie, your love! Let’s make your memories glow rosy and marvellous, and not be tinged with an overwhelming sense of the Never Agains.
Why are we doing this again?
You’re getting mazzed to the person you love dearly, who brings you cups of tea in bed, is happy to watch Parks and Rec for the twelfth time, and makes you feel all kinds of happy inside and out. That’s the key part, if you break it all down. But it’s so darn easy to get super caught up in small details, things and people that do not matter and straight-up dumb shit that you wouldn’t normally give two hoots about. You are not alone.
If you’re starting to get your panties in a bunch about the below, or any variations forthwith:
● What your Aunty said about wedding flowers
● Whether turmeric or terracotta is the right earthy shade for the organic linen napkins
● Who you should invite from work, or
● If the dress you love will necessitate you getting a Brazilian Butt Lift
Then it’s time to go back to the question, ‘Why are we doing this again?’ Because you love a person whom you want to spend your life with. Focusing on this will mean that other things matter way less.
Mega important side note: bugger your Aunty’s views on artificial flowers vs real; either colour napkin will look grand; only invite colleagues whom you have a relationship with outside of work; and your butt is great JUST THE WAY IT IS.
Delegate + Dial Back the DIY
This is going to be controversial because I know many, many Rock ‘n’ Roller brides are super mega into DIY. I get it, so am I! But it’s about knowing your limits and not taking on too much.
Stress Free Sally is def not folding the remaining 453 paper cranes at 11pm the night before the wedding. In fact, our mate Sally probably decided that 1000 cranes were way too many yonks ago and ditched that idea, toot suite! She is not hanging 200m of festoons lights using a ladder that’s about a foot too short for the job, the day before the wedding. She is definitely not folding napkins into swans while also getting her hair and makeup done 90 mins before the ceremony is due to start.
Perhaps choose a few projects that you’d love to do that’ll both personalise your wedding day AND help with the budget. If you want to do the flowers, your wedding day might not be the right day to try out floristry for the first time. Instead, why not consider a project to create decorations for the ceremony, or a beautiful display for your family photos?
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.
The wedding industry will have you believe that by achieving wedding day perfection you will ensure your happily ever after. But let’s be realistic for a second, we all know that for some couples, that simply isn’t the case. Being a second (third or fourth!) time bride is nothing to be ashamed of. The good news is that in most cases partners are often wiser and know themselves even better having gone through the wedding – and marriage – process before.Alicia Porter is here to share her experiences of wedding planning second time around.
When I got married the first time in 1996 it was, for lack of a better phrase, ‘planning chaos’. We had location battles, I had a ‘friend’ wanted me to pay her to be a bridesmaid, my mother told me I was too fat for my wedding dress and people constantly wanted to ‘help’ by faxing me pictures of suitable dresses. So, I went on strike. We flew from Alaska to New Zealand and eloped. It was pretty, there were fun cousins nearby, and the florist was a star. The wedding dinner was a random restaurant, and there was chocolate log for a wedding cake. It was wonderful.
My family then threw an elegant garden party reception on our return. However, my parents attitude was it was their party, therefore their choices prevailed. My mother chose the invitations, the cake, the venue and what everyone wore – including me. This is how I found myself in a borrowed dress with a gardenia on my shoulder in a receiving line with outright strangers.
In hindsight, I now realise that although an elopement was easier, the result was we were two very independent people who didn’t know how to work together on big projects. Obviously, this wasn’t the only issue in the relationship, but a lack of being able to work together as a team compounded the fact that the marriage simply didn’t work. Planning for a future together requires work and communication. Child rearing is nothing if not a joint effort. Wedding planning in some respects is a safe practice run to make sure that you know how to work with each other for the bigger picture.
Introducing our brand-new real bride columnist! Rachel is getting married in September so we’ll be following her journey of planning a feminist meets rock n roll wedding, culminating in us sharing the big day in our last issue of the year! Over to you Rachel…
The first time I learned about Rock n Roll Bride was at a wedding show in 2015. I was exhibiting with a vintage wedding band and caught sight of Kat’s bright blue hair. I went looking for her, intrigued by this exhibitor, who looked so unlike the wedding industry I’d been used to after five years of wedding singing.
I found the Rock n Roll Bride stand and learned what it was all about: how these friendly people were on a mission to change the face of the wedding industry; to make it more inclusive; to celebrate individualism. With no ring on my finger and no boyfriend(!), I subscribed to the magazine immediately. Five years later, in 2020, it was my turn to be a bride.
Though I believe I would be perfectly happy to be ‘not married’ to this excellent man ’til death us do part, the Disney Princess-loving, Nora Ephron-viewing, Notting Hill-quoting romantic in me really did want to be married to the person I loved. And, luckily, H really wanted it too. “Let’s do it,” we said, “But let’s do it our way.” (Like everyone who reads this magazine says!).
The reason I’d been dubious is feminism. Long and short: I was worried that wanting to be married made me a bad feminist.
I don’t feel I need to explain why I had any reservations about marriage and feminism to the readers of this magazine. If you’re here, clearly you understand that there’s a lot that’s wrong with many marital traditions and you’re up for breaking the status quo in your own special way. One quick Google of the origin of the word ‘wife’ was enough to make me wonder if I was letting the sisterhood down.