I’ve got a chubby belly. Arms that wobble. Thighs thicker than a bowl of oatmeal. And I’m not losing any of it for my wedding.
Not that it should be anyone’s business. My body, my rules after all. However, since I got engaged almost two years ago, I’ve felt that pendulum start swinging – one even Edgar Allen Poe would question. That pendulum? The expectation to lose weight for my ‘big day’.
I always knew I was going to come up against it. Weight loss as normality has been shoved down the necks of my generation and generations before me as soon as we stepped into school. Is anyone else still traumatised by having to be weighed in front of their class at ten years old or is that just me? Despite having taken the time to unlearn so many ingrained societal stupidities regarding weight loss and being thin, wedding weight loss is a whole other beast.
I first noticed it lurking behind almost every shred of online content. You know that as soon as the engagement ring landed on my finger, I was following bridal accounts and wedding Instagrams left, right, and centre. I’m a millennial, what can I say? But between every post about dress styles, blog posts about DIY hacks, or TikToks on flower choices, there would be something about weight loss. I could no longer scroll through my feed without it popping up like an unwelcome spot.
The same is said for most of the books and magazines that have the word ‘wedding’ or ‘bride’ attached to them. I’m a ‘magazine on long train journeys’ kind of gal so of course I grabbed a handful on the way to my first venue finding trip.
Reader, I wish I just left them on the stand. Amidst the tulle and greenery, gold rings and honeymoons, there it was. “My wedding body before and after!” “How I lost two stone in a month!” “Shredding for the wedding!” “Bridal bootcamp!” At this point, it seemed weight loss was a part of the official checklist. Book venue and reception? Check. Book DJ and band? Done. Arrange wedding menu? Tick. Secure hair and makeup artist? Affirmative. Lose a tenth of body weight? Absolutely.
Once all the physical aspects of the wedding had been booked, then came the comments. Mostly from people I know, some out of the blue, some in conversations about the wedding – all unwarranted. A lot of the conversations were gentle and almost sweet? “Oh are you going to lose any weight for the wedding? We can do it together if you like!” Others were of an inquiring nature – “are you getting a smaller dress and losing weight to fit into it? That’s what my sister did.” And of course, there came the expected comments – the ones that are disguised as jokes. My ‘favourite’ comment came from a colleague; “oh you are having a lot of carb-y breakfasts for someone who is getting married!” Now, I know that these comments typically come from two places; either a place of love or a place of learned behaviour. Maybe a mix of both if you are lucky. But it doesn’t stop the fact that I just don’t want to hear it.
With all this being chucked at me amongst the genuine stress of planning, budgeting, and legal aspects, losing weight slowly began feeling like something I should do. I mean, enough people were telling me to or alluding to the idea that it’s odd that I am not. It crept into my psyche whenever I let my guard down. If I exposed my arms; if I ordered dessert; if I looked bloated. But there’s one thing that has kept me going when these thoughts pop up – annoyance. I just don’t want to lose weight for my wedding. I see no real reason why I should have to.
I’ve worked hard to get to this place within myself, where I am learning to like and even love my body. Like most women my age who grew up subjected to Hello and OK magazines forcing fatphobic and pro-size-zero rhetoric at every supermarket in the UK, I have a troubled relationship with self-esteem. Specifically, calorie counting and using working out as a punishment. Why on earth would I want to open up that hellhole again when I am finally happy?
Simply put, this is my wedding. Well, and my partner’s. But the wedding industry is sexist – he has nothing telling him that he should lose weight for the wedding. It is ours to do as we like. We’re not having a wedding cake; Rory doesn’t like cake, I have a life threatening allergy, and we’re paying for a gorgeous dessert. We are not having canapes; we’re about to serve a three course meal, I mean hello? I am not wearing heels; I am the queen of dodgy ankles and don’t fancy an accident on my own wedding day. I am not losing weight; I do not need to and I don’t want to.
It would be reckless of me not to say that I do have moments where I really do feel the expectations. It’s hard not to when it’s so normalised and kept alive by the wedding industry. And the fitness industry. And the fashion industry. And the – you get my point. But I’ve limited the access that I have to the content and magazines that peddle this pressure. On both social media and physical magazine front, the only bridal account I follow is Rock n Roll Bride. It centres on weddings of people from all walks of life, with varying budgets, styles, religion, and ethos. There’s no toxicity or negativity, no talk of weight loss, and only celebration and advice for the big day. I also follow Madi Lane Bridal as they are the brand of my wedding dress. What I love about Madi Lane is how they show their dresses on real brides and models of all shapes and sizes.
The wedding industry is a minefield. Planning a wedding is hard. But it should also be joyous, fun, and exciting. If something doesn’t tick that box, then kick it away into the netherworlds far away from your wedding. For me, that’s losing weight. If the idea of shedding the pounds makes you happy for you and only you, with no negativity or underlying expectations, then go ahead! It’s your wedding – do what you want to do! But losing weight for one day of your life should never be an expectation. So I will proudly walk down the aisle, being the chubby icon that I am, looking how I like, and being happy.