Stop telling brides-to-be that they need to lose weight for the wedding

A recently engaged couple enjoy their special moment before all the questions begin
A recently engaged couple enjoy their special moment before all the questions begin

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that the moment you get engaged, questions about what diet you’ll be following inevitably follow – just like a dark cloud moving in front of the sun.

Societal expectations, particularly within the wedding industry often has us believing that the only look you should be wearing on your wedding day is elegantly skinny, with a side of eat-nothing-but salad until your big day.

But here’s the thing – that way lies misery, particularly if you’ve never been inclined to lose weight before and the suggestion for losing weight comes from outside influences.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight – particularly if you want to do it for you and you alone (and in the healthiest manner possible) – but if your self-esteem and value are tied into an ideal created by aesthetically styled magazine shoots and layouts, then you might want to take a step back and consider just who it is that you’re changing for?

Because I think you’ll find that the answer is: not you.

The problem as always is that society has entrenched in us the idea that the only way you can look good – whether it’s a casual function or a formal affair – is to project an image that’s appealing according to runway standards.

In other words, you’re only beautiful if you’re thin.

READ MORE: 4 things you should never say to a newly engaged couple

We’re not skinny shaming here at all – no, what we’re talking about here is the exclusion of the concept that fat women are equally deserving of being seen as beautiful without the caveat that they should lose weight to be seen as such.

I remember a few years back I came across an article that highlighted a new and disturbing trend that involved the process of using feeding tubes to lose weight

This controversial method involved bypassing eating all together and getting sustenance in drip form, which consisted of a mix of protein and fat, mixed with water, which according to, amounts to about 800 calories.

It’s apparently a 10-day program designed to make you lose weight very quickly – except it’s definitely not a healthy and sustainable way to achieve weight loss, especially since other dietary staples such as fibre has not even been included in the equation.

WATCH: Ultimate 9 Wedding Planning Tips for a Stress-Free Wedding Day

Refinery29 has also previously reported on how easily we buy into the dieting hype and that just doing a Google search alone yields a number of related results on a) how best to lose weight b) best bridal diets to follow and c) how to lose weight in a record amount of time.

In a follow up piece, Refinery29 also suggests that millennials, in particular, are prone towards perfectionism because of social media. And again it’s easy to see why when you scroll through wedding hashtags.

READ MORE: 4 things the mother of the bride should never do

I’ve reached out to a few women and posed the following questions:

  • did people ask you if you were going on a diet?
  • did you feel any kind of pressure to lose weight?
  • did you refuse to lose weight and were criticised for it?

Catherine says:

At one of the first stores I visited to find a wedding dress, the very lovely, very elegant assistant, while zipping me into a dress I loved, said "Are you going to lose all that weight for your wedding?" and "Does your husband want a fat wife?"

I think I wrote about that here

I left there, never went back, and soon fell in love with another dress, in another store, and was helped by some incredible seamstresses instead. Many friends had asked "What's your wedding diet looking like?"... and that became my litmus test for friendships, at one point. "Are you having a long engagement because you want to lose the weight?" ... bearing in mind that I didn't actually feel overweight at all. "You're looking well. What size are you aiming for, for the big day?" … actual Facebook comment on a profile picture. It took me three days to figure out what they meant. It was those kinds of conversation that led me to ask my now-husband what kind of questions he was being asked. Do you know? The only question he was ever asked was "when is it?" Makes you think. Also makes me angry, still.

Kerry says:

People did ask if she was going on a diet.

It was more than a question, it was almost an expectation. It wasn't asking, it was basically a reminder to lose weight. Then I found my dream dress and it fit like a glove and then of course I was reminded that it can be taken in if I do lose weight. This wasn't the case with everybody, especially those who saw me in the dress, and of course, my husband. It was almost drummed in my head from every angle that the only way to be a beautiful bride was to lose weight. I felt beautiful in my dress the minute I put it on but I thought that if lost weight I could maybe look more beautiful.

And she tried to lose weight at first.

I tried, for a while and then just got so wrapped up in the wedding bubble of stress, excitement, happiness and anticipation that I forgot about the weight. And on the day my weight didn't pop into my mind once. It would not have made a difference to my wedding day or to my marriage if I had lost weight. It was the most special day. I am completely against the belief that one must lose weight for your wedding. It is YOUR day so you do what YOU want to do.

Marlizette says:

I decided that I wanted to lose weight on my own and have never regretted my decision:

I decided on my own that I wanted to lose weight as those pictures are forever and not looking the way I wanted to in them would have caused me a lifetime of regret. I'm very glad I made the decision as we now have beautiful photos that I am very proud of. No one guilted me into doing it though, and my husband has always made me feel beautiful no matter what.

So there you have it.

The point is that the wedding day belongs to you and your partner alone. Yes, family and friends make up a big part of your day, but no one should get to dictate the terms of how you should celebrate your day.

If you do want to lose weight, the only person who should be deciding that (and without anyone offering their helpful advice unless you actually ASK THEM) is you.

It’s time we stop thinking our well-meaning questions about diet is anything more than concern trolling.

Did you lose weight for your wedding? Were your experiences good or bad? Share your stories with us and we could feature in a future article.

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