By: Elizabeth Friedman
Image by Texture Photo
“So how does sizing work since I plan on losing weight before the wedding?”
As a bridesmaids’ stylist, I get asked this question at least once a day. The question slowly kills me; not because it is asked so frequently, but because so many of the kind, generous bridesmaids I work with are affected by the dangerous and unnecessary pressure to lose weight for a wedding.
Through various media platforms, we have been taught that part of preparing for a wedding is changing the way our bodies look. How many articles do we see about starting an exercise or diet plan to prepare for your wedding, or tips on how to look your best on your big day? There are hashtags like #sheddingforthewedding or #sweatingforthewedding and the ever present reminder that, “you will look at these wedding photos for the rest of your life”. It’s. Everywhere.
We learn that we should lose weight or alter our body in some way before participating in a wedding because the way we look now is not good enough.
As a body positive and eating disorder awareness advocate, this part of my job as a stylist in the wedding industry scares me and hurts my heart. A wedding is a celebration of love, yet everyone involved is still getting hit with the message that if they are a smaller size, they will be more worthy of love! The connection between losing weight/thinness and being more worthy of love isn’t exactly spelled out, but I can spell it out for you. Think of a time where you or someone you know lost weight. They were probably met with a lot of praise, compliments, and positive attention. Praise, compliments, and positive attention directly correlate with the feelings of being loved and accepted. Lose weight, gain love.
I mean, it’s not true! Your friends don’t actually value you more if you are thinner. Your fiancé doesn’t love you more because you lost weight. But the subconscious association is there.
It explains why I am always asked about sizing and weight loss. It explains why people are not happy when the size chart puts them in a larger size than they are used to wearing (typical of formal wear). It explains why there have been too many bridesmaids crying in the dressing rooms because they don’t fit in the sample sizes.
It explains why a distraught, teary-eyed bridesmaid felt like she needed to thank me for being so nice to her. What she meant was, “Thank you for being so nice to me even though I’m fat.”
Enough is enough. The pressure to lose weight for a wedding (and just in general) is damaging and simply not needed.
Trying on dresses, having measurements taken, and talking directly about size is a sure way to bring up some uncomfortable feelings. I know I can’t throw out a few words of encouragement and change what we have been taught for years about how we should look, but here are some reminders I give bridesmaids during the process:
Elizabeth is an eating disorder survivor and body positive advocate. Her greatest passion is speaking out against diet culture and encouraging men and women to love the bodies they call home. She first participated as a SMASH Ambassador at UNC in 2017. Since then, she has attended multiple Southern Smash events, spoke on the SmashTALK panel at Meredith College, and took on the role of Program Coordinator for Southern Smash. She hopes to make advocacy her full time job so she can devote all her time and energy into smashing the stigma around eating disorders and weight bias.