Debate: Do brides really want to be “thinner” for their wedding day?

Why do you need to diet?

A few weeks ago, I was having a coffee with my friend a couple of months ahead of her big day. She is a lovely size 12 with beautiful curves which will really suit her gorgeous 50s-style dress. When it was my turn to go and order, I asked if she’d like any cake or a pastry. She visibly shuddered and declined. She’s on a wedding diet.

There is absolutely nothing overweight about my friend. She doesn’t need to lose any weight for health reasons, and she’s always been happy and confident with the way she looks. She’s never been one to suddenly put on a lot of weight in a short period of time, but with the wedding looming, she’s suddenly panicked. What if she doesn’t fit into her dress? What if any part of her body looks “fat” in her photos?

She’s not alone. Months before my wedding I had the same panic. I decided that my size 10-12 figure was too big, my arms too doughy, my chins too… multiple. It was alright for every day life, I mused, but not for my wedding day. I started to totally stress myself out, with new diets starting on a weekly basis, spurts of intense exercise that never lasted.

Eventually I stopped and examined my motives. Why did I think that smaller was better? I was upset that on the scale I was heavier than I used to be as a size eight. I was fretting about my dress size. But was I actually unhappy with the way I looked? Did the weight not suit me? Did I feel unattractive? I decided that I would just eat what I liked. Giving up on the ideal of being “thinner” wasn’t easy. I struggled a lot with it, went back and forward in my mind. It seemed to go against all my natural instincts as all my wedding buddies were shedding the pounds around me. And suddenly the big day was upon me. I wasn’t the skinny creature I’d envisioned I’d be on my wedding day. I was just… me. In a wedding dress.

And that was totally fantastic.

Putting on my dress on the morning of the wedding, I just felt like myself. And why would I want to feel like someone else when I’m making such a big commitment as spending the rest of my life with someone? If my weight is fine for my everyday life, why do I need to change it for my wedding day? I didn’t feel fat, I didn’t feel self conscious. I felt like me.

No weight lost – no less happy. No less proud of our wedding photos. John and I on our wedding day. Image © Satureyes

Does every bride want to look “thinner”?

I recall clearly talking about my weight worries to another industry supplier at the time who told me that “every bride, even a size eight, wants to look thinner on her wedding day.”

My first reaction was to feel absolutely indignant. That’s just not true! So many women are happy with the way they look. Not everyone buys into the premise that thinner = better. So I started talking to brides, with this scorn in mind. Sure, I’d wanted to look thinner myself, but that had just been a whim based on cultural pressure. I’d got over it. I was happy with my size.

I soon found out I was in a minority. I decided to talk to a sample group of about 15 brides, some I know personally and some are readers of the blog. Some brides looked at me as if I were mad for asking the question, answering “of course, doesn’t everyone want to look thinner?” Some brides got offended at my insistence that thin wasn’t better: “who are you to tell me that I look great as I am?” Some brides were slightly apologetic about their feelings, and felt embarrassed that they wanted to look thinner but said they couldn’t help it. When I asked brides why it was that they wanted to lose weight for their wedding, the unanimous answer was that they wanted to look their best.

I’m going to put this out there: no bride, no matter what their size, should be under pressure to lose weight for their big day. If you have curves, and you’re usually perfectly fine with them, then that’s part of who you are. If you want to lose weight in general, then that’s your personal choice. Nobody should pressure you either way. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from talking to these wonderful women it’s that weight is a hugely personal issue – but somewhere along the line we all let outside influences change how we feel about our bodies.

Is thinner better?

If you’re not stick thin for your wedding day, it doesn’t make you “not good enough” in any way. I’ve also seen many brides lose a lot of weight and wish they hadn’t – because they didn’t feel like themselves. Being stick thin doesn’t suit everyone. If you’re reading this blog, chances are you wouldn’t change the way your wedding looked because everyone else’s looked a certain way. But even the most staunchly individual brides I’ve come across seem to think that it’s a universal truth: thin is better.

I’m not here to judge. As I said, weight is personal – and you should be happy with how you look and feel on your wedding day.

Ladies, I’m not here to make you feel bad if losing weight is what you want to do. I’m here to ask you one thing: challenge yourself. Could it be that you want to lose weight because you’ve been told it’s the “normal” thing to do? Is it because magazines talk about diets like they’re expected components of the wedding ? Is it because all your friends are doing it?

Then look at yourself in the mirror. Would being smaller suit you? Do you really want to change your figure or do you think that thin is better? And, the crux of the issue, why do you think that being thin is better?

Don’t answer those questions for me: answer them for yourself. That’s the only way you can know if you’re trying to lose weight for you or because you feel you “should”.

So does every bride want to be thinner? Probably not. But lots do – and not because being thinner is automatically the ideal state, but because they are being told, subliminally and otherwise, that losing weight is what they need to do. I say break the mould. If you’re happy with the way you look, then that shouldn’t change because of one day of your life. 

Do you feel under pressure to lose weight for your wedding day? Do you feel strongly that you should lose weight? Did you lose weight and then regret it? We’d love to hear from you! 

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