Wedding planning is much different the second time around! I'm not sure if it's because I've been married before, if it's because I'm much older now, or a mix of both – it's just different.
Something that has bothered me since the engagement is the renewed attention my mind has put on my appearance. I have worked for a long time on ending the self-loathing and hate of being a fat* person. (*And no, fat is NOT a bad word – it's just a descriptor. This is a much longer topic to dive into, but we have to strip the negativity from the word.) I've been told since I was 5 that my body wasn't acceptable at its size, and that constant weight reduction is a way of life. I started this blog over 9 years ago as a weight loss blog, for goodness' sake! I look back at old posts where I talk about “failing” to lose weight, or “forgiving myself” over weight gain.
So what changed? I realized that I can't live my life loathing my body. I realized how much self-hatred I had every time I got on the scale and didn't see what I wanted to see. I was constantly ripping myself apart on the inside about how I was a failure, how I'd never fit in, how my body is gross, etc. It was exhausting, not to mention that when you throw in my anxiety, depression, and binge eating-disordered history, those kinds of thoughts multiple times a day are nothing but bad news.
So piece by piece, I've worked on self-love. Nurturing my body, managing stress, doing movement I enjoy, and staying off the scale. I also unfollowed a lot of people and accounts that talked about weight in a negative way, made subtle fat jokes, or picked apart appearances. As soon as you recognize how many of those messages are out there, it's like drinking from a fire hose. Cleaning my feeds helped clear up my thoughts a little. The nasty negative comments about my appearance or size come back in my mind on the regular, but I'm better armed to fight against them.
With wedding planning, however, I've found myself becoming much more critical of my body again. I think a lot of it has to do with everything I've come across researching and looking for ideas. I'm wading in the waters of the internet that I've not looked at in a while.
Where are the other plus size brides?
Searching for wedding dress inspiration online led to finding a bunch of dresses that *might* come in my size, but I can't find plus models in them. Even the dress I selected – I've yet to see it on another plus size bride anywhere on the internet. While I love this fact from a uniqueness perspective, I hate that I can't find plus size brides in the designers items. (I had a fantastic dress shopping experience and got my dress already from Couture Closet in LaGrange, KY)
Also, I've been browsing the internet for months for inspiration and ideas. The number of photos of plus size brides that I see on the popular wedding blogs and in styled shoots. (All the inspiration is also very white and affluent, but that's another story.) I go to research vendors, and all the photos are of thin women. I know plus size brides get married all the time, yet I find little representation of them, other than on those sites specifically for plus size brides.
Shedding for the wedding messaging
“Shedding for the wedding” messaging is everywhere. On Pinterest – Mecca of all bridal inspiration for better or worse – my feed shows me workout routines designed to whip you into shape before you say “I do.” Bridal magazines have their best workout tips to sculpt the perfect arms for the big day.
I read an article in a local newspaper recently of a new bridal salon opening up. In it, they talked about the proximity to a new fitness studio and how they could collaborate to help brides get into the shape they want before the wedding. What kind of message does a bridal shop promoting training sessions send? You're not beautiful enough in the dress as you are now? Your fiancé liked your body enough to propose – maybe it's ok?
I was really proud of the post I did showcasing plus size wedding dresses from David's Bridal. On social media, I had asked about which dress people thought I went with. While I got a lot of fun responses, I also had people telling me to stay away from strapless because my arms would look too big. Or that a large tulle skirt made me look wider than I am. Maybe something with a belt would bring my waist in.
I understand why people have these opinions: we're told constantly to wear “flattering” styles that make our waists look smaller, or told that sleeveless items for plus sizes are a fashion faux pas. If you step back and look at it though, isn't it all a little absurd? Why can't we wear things that make us happy, or that represent our personality. Is it that bad if someone sees me as my actual size, or even larger, because I love the fluffy skirts? Nothing I wear is going to make me look thin, because I'm not!
The arms comments in particular really got to me. I've never been worried about my arms – they are what they are. But I noticed myself more and more picking them apart in photos recently, and I added additional arm exercises to my workout routine without really thinking about why. What I've noticed is that these thoughts are trailing into other thoughts: fear of my dress not fitting, thinking about skipping the cake tasting and deferring to Steve, wishing the date was farther out so I can make more “progress” on my arm flab.
Listen: There's nothing wrong with brides who want to lose weight or look a certain way for their wedding day. We all have body autonomy! I get it: it is likely the most photographed event of your life, and you want to look back at the images with fond memories and not worrying about seeing your back fat. There are things I am doing to look better for the photos: getting my teeth whitened and using a new skincare routine in hopes of clearing up some under eye puffiness and skin tone unevenness. Those are things I'd likely do anyway, but I started earlier since there is a date in sight.
All of this to say: I'm struggling a bit with fighting the notion my body is good enough as it is, right now. I'm frustrated at the lack of plus size representation across the wedding industry and in the media. I reject the notion that if you don't lose 20 pounds before your wedding date that the day will be ruined. Having a dress that makes me look slimmer isn't part of my agenda.
The media and society at large does all sorts of things on the regular to make women feel bad about their bodies – it's huge business! The more we have to fix, the more money they have to make. Brides should be happy about marrying the love of their lives, and celebrating with family and friends: not being bombarded with messaging that they need to fix themselves in some way before the big day.
Editing to add a few sites with “real weddings” that I've found to be more inclusive:
Have any other brides noticed this? Am I ranting into the abyss? (It's ok if so!) I'd love to hear your (respectful) thoughts in the comments.