There is more pressure than ever for brides to try to “slim down” before their wedding. There are numerous people hawking cleanses, crash-diets, and “bridal boot camps.” It is fairly commonplace for salespeople to ask at dress fittings, “So how much weight do you plan to lose before the wedding?” As a psychotherapist and body-positive activist, here is what I’d like to say to a bride who thinks she needs to lose weight.
Maybe you just got engaged and are thinking about trying the latest crash diet or “cleanse.” Perhaps, you went wedding dress shopping and are hoping to lose weight prior to your first fitting.
First off, it’s important to recognize that the wedding industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. There are so many individuals and companies who stand to make a profit off of brides feeling terrible about their bodies. After all, if you felt great about yourself, you would not be tempted to sign up for a “bridal boot camp,” or diet program. Thus, it’s important to recognize the diet-culture and body-shaming messages that you are being fed from the wedding industry.
No matter what you weigh, I would argue that you don’t need to try to change your body before your big day (or ever for that matter). We live in a society that deems “thin” as good and “fat” as bad. However, the reality is that all bodies are good bodies. Your body is beautiful, but more importantly your worth is about so much more than your external appearance.
“Your body is beautiful, but more importantly your worth is about so much more than your external appearance.”
Additionally, anyone who thinks that you need to be a certain body size to walk down the aisle is likely projecting their own body insecurities onto you. You don’t need to buy into it.
If you are struggling with feeling pressured to lose weight before your wedding, I would urge you to imagine yourself and your future partner in your 80s. When you look back on the wedding planning process, do you think you will be fondly reminiscing about skipping dinners out, obsessively exercising, crash-dieting, and being filled with guilt at your cake tasting?
It’s far too easy to lose sight of the reason why you are getting married in the first place. Your wedding is a celebration of the love and commitment that you are making to another person. You are lucky to have found love and to be taking a huge step in your life. Instead of focusing on what you wish to change about your body, try to pay attention to the things that you have to be grateful for in the present moment. What if instead of going on a diet, you worked on making a gratitude list for each day leading up to your wedding? I can assure you that this will have a much more positive impact on your health and happiness.
If you are struggling with poor body image leading up to your wedding, you are certainly not alone in feeling this way. Instead of beating yourself up for feeling badly about your body, try practicing some self-compassion. Self-compassion is simply extending the same kindness that you would to a loved one. Rather than hurting your body through restriction, dieting, or compulsive exercise, try to engage in acts of self-care in the months leading up to your wedding. The following are some ideas for compassionate self-care:
- Find a form of movement that you actually enjoy (and isn’t geared towards trying to change your body), such as taking a walk, a gentle yoga class, swimming, biking, etc.
- Throw away your scale (just trust me on this one, it’s life-changing).
- “Unfollow” any wedding-diet promoters on social media, then find some body-positive people and “follow them.”
- Get a massage or have an at-home spa day.
- Take a bubble bath and read a good book.
- Cuddle with a pet.
- Write in a journal.
- Keep daily gratitude lists (Thankful is a great app for this).
- Meditate (my favorite app is Headspace).
- Spend time with friends and family members that lift you up.
- Cook yourself a delicious meal.
- Try out an adult coloring book.
It’s also important to recognize that wedding planning can be incredibly stressful. Often people are more comfortable taking about their discomfort with their body, then the larger stressors in their lives. Try to think about what is really causing you anxiety, which you are masking through focusing on your body.
“Try to think about what is really causing you anxiety, which you are masking through focusing on your body.”
Utilizing some of the self-care suggestions above can help you to de-stress during this process. However, if you are struggling with anxiety and poor body image leading up to your wedding, you might consider reaching out to a therapist for support. Asking for help when you are struggling is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Ultimately, your worth and your value do not come from your appearance or body. Your value lies in the kindness that you extend to others, the spark in your eyes when you laugh, the way that you pursue your passions, and your relationships. You are worthy of love and belonging. You are enough, just as you are.
Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C: is an eating disorder therapist in Rockville, Maryland. Jennifer has a private practice specializing in working with adolescents and adults struggling with eating disorders (including binge eating disorder, anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, and OSFED), body image issues, anxiety, and survivors of trauma. Jennifer provides eating disorder therapy in Rockville, MD. Jennifer offers eating disorder recovery coaching via phone/Skype. Connect with Jennifer through her website at www.jenniferrollin.com