When I was at the Running of the Brides, I overheard something that made me want to cry. A bride-to-be was wearing a lovely dress that looked stunning in the front, but couldn’t zip up in the back. Instead of saying, “Aw, nertz” and moving on to another dress, she said, in a voice that sounded stretched over terror, “I have eight months. And this way, I’ll have to.”
She’ll have to lose weight, that is. It seemed pretty clear she wasn’t deciding to lose weight for a dress. She was deciding on a dress that would help motivate her to lose weight.
Because you can’t be a real bride unless you’re thinner than you were when you got engaged.
I hate that message. I hate our culture’s fear/hatred of fat and its mandate to be perpetually dissatisfied with our bodies to begin with. And body negativity is yet another thing I find generally objectionable that is magnified by a factor of UGH in the context of weddings.
And I hate that it is GETTING TO ME. Me! A believer in fat acceptance! And also (I’m not sure how much emphasis should be placed on this next item) a thin person!
I was at the grocery store yesterday, and I had a hankering for some mint chocolate chip ice cream. And I found myself grateful that I was at the godforsaken Squirrel Hill Giant Eagle, with its horrible labyrinthine layout, so I could easily resist buying ice cream. Because “I don’t need to indulge like that.” No, brain, no!
When I got home, I discovered the coat I was wearing had a torn seam. Did I think, “Well, that’s what I get for buying thirty-five dollar coats at Forever 21?” No! That would be rational! I thought, “Dear heavens! Have I gained so much weight that I am busting coats? How will I ever fit into my wedding dress?!?! Dios mio!”
This morning, I seriously had butterflies in my stomach when I stepped on the Wii Fit Balance Board, determining if weight gain was the cause of my broken coat. When the weight was around the same as it was last time I checked, I couldn’t just let it go. I turned to a vinyl tape measure. And I felt sad when I saw one extra inch around my waist.
And that kind of thinking has got to stop. I can’t let my self-worth rest on how I look or how much I weigh. I shouldn’t hold myself to standards that I find abhorrent when applied to other women. It’s hypocritical, disingenuous, and lame.
And it’s a miserable way to live life, and I’m not looking for new ways to feel bad. I don’t want to think about fitting into a dress when I exercise; I want to think about being stronger and more flexible and not getting winded when I run to catch a bus. I don’t want to eat more veggies to save on calories; I want to eat more veggies to get more vitamins. Eff that, I want to eat more veggies because veggies are yummy. And then I want some ice cream. And beer. Possibly in the same mug.
And I don’t want to see women buying dresses that don’t fit in hopes of forcing weight loss. I don’t want there to be hours of cable television programming devoted to shaming women for having visible back fat when wearing a strapless gown. I don’t want people to refuse to let me take their photograph. I don’t want people to feel bad about themselves every time they step on a scale or try to buy new jeans or look in a mirror. I don’t want people to tell me that I need to eat a sandwich, or that I need to drop my fucking sandwich, or that I need to do anything with sandwiches!
This war has to start at home.
So I’m going to sew my coat back together. I’m going to read some of the Big Fat Deal archive. I’m going to keep clicking the little x next to the ads on Facebook that insist I can lose weight before my wedding day. When Facebook asks why, I’ll click the button that says the ad is offensive.
What are your strategies for staying body positive, particularly in the midst of wedding culture?