Why brides must say “I won’t”
By Olivia Potts
It’s the 21st century, so how come women are still being bullied into losing weight for their wedding day? Olivia Potts is one bride-to-be and food lover who’s standing up against this culture of shame and saying loud and proud, “Take me as I am!”
It all started the moment I got engaged. As I researched venues and flicked through bridal magazines, I was subject to an avalanche of unsolicited advice: 20 tips to lose weight ahead of your wedding! Five ways to drop the pounds before your big day! How to shift cellulite FAST! As far as the world was concerned, being ready for the biggest day of my life meant one thing: being smaller than I’ve ever been.
Magazines, websites, wedding fairs and dress shops all subscribe to the same philosophy. Every bride wants to diet. Every bride should diet, and the sooner she starts, the better. The average engagement now lasts 15 months. That’s a long time to spend wild-eyed and hungry, sipping slimline tonic and pretending you don’t mind there isn’t any gin in it.
In a 2008 study by Cornell University, a third of women wanted to drop at least two stone by their wedding day. Over half of those interviewed were prepared to use ‘extreme’ dieting methods – including fasts and supplements – to achieve their goal.
There may be compelling reasons for weight loss – but getting married is not one of them. No one loses weight for a wedding to improve their health. They do so to be able to fit into a smaller dress, to look slimmer in their photographs. It’s the result of internalised fat-shaming, encouraged by a greedy diet industry.
Needless to say, there’s no such expectation on my dearly beloved. Wedding day weight is a women-only issue: for brides, their weight is their value. The message is drummed into them: the only way they can feel good about themselves on their wedding day is to be slim.
It’s big business. People know that brides are insecure and willing to spend money. And brides, in turn, know that on their wedding day they’ll be watched (and photographed) like never before. Hence the onslaught of personal trainers, diet regimes, boot camps, colonic irrigations. For the paranoid bride, these things seem like a small price to pay.
It’s such a shame. We celebrate marriage by breaking bread together and cutting cake – testament to the role food plays in demonstrating partnership and love. Yet in the run-up to the big day we starve ourselves in a quixotic quest to be thin.
But we don’t have to capitulate. We don’t have to drop hundreds of pounds of money to drop tens of pounds of weight before we tie the knot. We can say no. A wedding is a celebration of love; the aisle is not a catwalk and there’s no weight limit for walking down it.
So before I say “I do”, I’ll be saying no. No to diets, no to weight loss, no to ‘the perfect bridal body’. When I get married I’ll look like myself, for better or worse. That’s who my partner signed up for, after all.
Do you think Olivia has a point or do you take a different view? Let us know in the comments.