I have gained exactly nine pounds since my wedding. I’d be happier if I had gained 19 pounds, because it’s one thing to put on a little weight, it’s another thing entirely to prove The Knot right about ANYTHING.
“The Newlywed Nine” is one of those scare-quotes “you’ll sees” that get peppered throughout wedding literature to sink women’s mags’ claws into us ever-deeper with lifelong insecurities. Sure, the frenzied spending spree that is an American engagement is a short-lived boon to the economy. But advertising machines don’t let that get them down, because even after the wedding is over we’ll spend like money is going out of style as long as we’re constantly reminded of our failures as human beings. And what easier way to do that than feed into size anxiety? The rest of culture will support that message any chance it gets, so all you need is an alliterative catchphrase to terrify women that they’re doing married life wrong. By being fatter. By nine entire pounds!!
I hate weight-loss demands GENERALLY, but I’m extra frustrated by the narrative of the Newlywed Nine for a few reasons:
1) I hate, hate, hate the implication that women “let themselves go” when they get married, and the ride-along idea that women only play the Beauty Game to “nab a husband.” The reasons that women spend so much time, money, and energy on their appearance are varied, complicated, and above my pay grade. I’m sure there are plenty of women who only conform to the beauty myth for the social benefits of beauty, including attracting romantic partners. But for a lot of us, gussying ourselves up is genuinely pleasurable. Maybe that’s only because we’ve been brainwashed, but that is neither here nor there, because WE LIKE PUTTING ON EYELINER, DAMNIT, AND YOU CAN PRY THIS LIPSTICK FROM OUR COLD, DEAD, MARRIED HANDS! [On a related note, this is part of why I lose my mind when guys babble on about how they don't like women in makeup, like, "listen up: ladies!" because it assumes that I would only wear makeup to please a dude.]
Of course, weight is just one (extra loaded) element of the beauty myth, but the idea remains that I have no incentive to remain thin now that I am married. As though everything about me down to the SHAPE OF MY PHYSICAL BODY has been designed to “capture” a husband. This gives women far too much credit for being able to determine the shape of their own bodies, for one thing, and suggests fat people don’t get married, which is categorically false. And again, it presumes women only do the things they do with male preferences in mind, which is frankly dehumanizing on top of being heteronormative and plain old sexist.
2) Let’s be real for a second: in many, many cases, the Newlywed Nine is women rebounding from wedding-related weight loss, either due to intentional efforts to lose weight for a day in the bridal spotlight, stress-related pre-wedding weight loss, or both (I very consciously managed my weight during my engagement for fear of needing to buy a new wedding dress, and on my wedding day my dress zipped up easier than it ever had because the week before my wedding was a tremendous test of the limits of my sanity, and I lose weight when I’m stressed). The best way to avoid the Newlywed Nine is to lose no weight before your wedding, but no wedding magazine will ever suggest that because it can’t sell them ad space (If only they’d sell ads to restaurant chains!)
Other than pre-wedding weight loss, I think the main cause of the Newlywed Nine is a little thing called autumn. Wedding season is the summer and the early fall, so it follows that most people are newlyweds in the fall and winter. When most people put on a little weight. I know I have in pretty much every non-law-school year of my adult life. The culture is not quiet about its disapproval of seasonal weight gain (until, of course, New Year’s resolution time and/or bikini shopping time arrives and they can exploit it), so now I’m getting body shaming messages from multiple fronts. Boo.
3) NINE POUNDS? Am I crazy, or does this seem like a fairly minor fluctuation in weight to be concerned with? I don’t even know why I’m surprised, given the body police want us to cut off our armpit fat when dieting doesn’t get rid of it. But I just can’t wrap my mind around how a single-digit weight shift is worthy of countless articles on The Knot/Nest.
I hate that wedding crazy is persisting months after my wedding, such that a minor bump in my weight is causing me agita instead of just causing me to wear my period bras and bloat jeans every day.
September 28, 2011 at 12:02 pm
I gained ten just to spite The Nest.
September 28, 2011 at 12:15 pm
Is nine pounds even real? My weight fluctuates within at LEAST a six pound range within a week let alone over a few months. If that average creeped up more than about 10 within a period of a few months, I’d be concerned not for beauty reasons (that’s not an number, that’s pant fit) but because something changed in my body. Am I exercising like normal? Am I eating well? Etc.
But the media, gah, oh the media and their thin bride messages. What an awful people to do to women who are doing something so happy and serious as getting married. Awful.
September 29, 2011 at 1:54 pm
I’m sure it is entirely a coincidence that I’ve gained nine pounds, it just makes it more annoying. My weight is very fluctuate-y, and I don’t normally pay that much attention to it for my santiy’s sake.
September 28, 2011 at 12:21 pm
Yes. Yes yes yes.
I also loose weight when I’m stressed, so I was the skinniest I’ve ever been on my wedding day. And people treat me like that should be a badge of pride. But no, that was just stress.
For me, my post-wedding (the entire first year, for the most part) weight gain (and yes, it was somewhere around 10 lbs … not much, but enough that my pants didn’t fit well) was do to the fact that I was actually EATING. I DISPISE cooking for one person, but now that there were two of us every single night, I was cooking often. And let’s be real. Eating full meals vs. my normal what-can-I-grab-on-the-go is going to mean I’ll look a little better fed.
How this type of thing (you know, actual REASON) escapes people, I have no idea.
September 29, 2011 at 1:55 pm
I lost 40-some pounds from stress between my parents dying and my first go at law school finals, and everyone patted me on the back for it, while I was like, “BUT I THINK SOMETHING MIGHT BE SERIOUSLY WRONG WITH ME!” It was a real eye-opener for me about a very messed-up weight culture I’d been privileged enough to ignore as a medium-sized person.
September 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm
On a kind of related note: I hate hate hate the facebook ads that are clearly targeted to me because of my relationship status. While I was engaged it was literally all “wedding diet: lose weight fast!” and now it is weight watchers and diapers. I marked the wedding diet ones offensive every time, but it feels a bit strange to do that to diapers. But I may start anyway (although then facebook would think I am a baby-hater).
September 29, 2011 at 1:56 pm
I haven’t gotten any baby ads yet! Maybe they know about my IUD. I would not put that past Facebook to know what is in my uterus.
September 28, 2011 at 1:45 pm
ehhhhh I feel like I’ve let myself go a little bit, but mostly for the reasons you said – I was working out so much before the wedding because it was FOR the wedding (which I NEVER wanted to believe, because I’d already been working out consistently… but that was really to fit into a groomsman’s dress at my brother’s wedding, which occurred exactly one month before I got engaged, so… shit.)
September 29, 2011 at 1:59 pm
I’m still working out a lot, because I have to to manage my depression. But I’ve been running, which takes more out of me without burning as many calories. But I’m getting a lot out of running mentally, which is why I exercise in the first place, so I guess I shouldn’t be too bummed about that.
September 30, 2011 at 3:13 pm
same, it’s been really good for my mental health to get back into a workout routine. and running is the easiest because I can just go out and DO it, vice going to a gym
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September 28, 2011 at 4:23 pm
2) Let’s be real for a second: in many, many cases, the Newlywed Nine is women rebounding from wedding-related weight loss, either due to intentional efforts to lose weight for a day in the bridal spotlight, stress-related pre-wedding weight loss, or both
I know! And yet for some reason, nobody seems to acknowledge this.
My weight fluctuates so much, I try to rarely step on a scale; it just messes w/my head.
September 29, 2011 at 1:59 pm
Same here, I only decided to step on a scale in this case because my made-to-order sari was so ridiculously too small that I couldn’t quell my curiosity.
September 28, 2011 at 4:49 pm
re #1: not only does it imply that fat people don’t get married, but there is an underlying subtext that fat people either shouldn’t or don’t deserve to get married (unless, of course, they lose weight/have an expensive & dangerous procedure done).
I carried a bit of guilt about getting married in general. Most of it was due to being a woman who identifies as bi and has found a “soul mate” in a hetero-normative relationship with a straight male (ally). If my said soul mate happened to be female, I would not have the opportunity to make the union legal in my state (currently).
A tiny little part of the guilt, however, was getting married fat. Weight has been a significant struggle, physically, physiologically, and psychologically for me throughout my life. Though it was subtle, the message the WIC sent me over and over was that it was ludicrous that I would allow myself to get married without losing every extra pound on my body, and moreover, how dare I. Well, I did. I have lost weight since the wedding, but it is incidental to my goal of being over-all healthier this year & had very little to do with trying to lose weight (and especially nothing to do with losing weight for the wedding, since that wasn’t on my to-do list to begin with).
September 29, 2011 at 2:00 pm
You’re awesome! That’s all I have to say.
September 28, 2011 at 6:00 pm
I gained weight before my wedding. My dress was never tighter. I obviously eat my stress. Also now that I am married to a man who LOVES delicous food I am eating our happiness too.
I’ve gained some weight, not sure how much. Enough to make my pants tight. It’s happy weight. When we first started dating I gained 11 pounds and then lost 15 after a Dr. told me, “you might not want to gain anymore weight”. Gee whiz doc, thanks I was planning on gaining 100 more pounds but now that you point it out, I’ll lose it. Sorry for the tangent.
September 29, 2011 at 2:01 pm
Happy weight! I love that expression, because lord knows I’ve been at my most thin when I was my most miserable. But as you also point out, everyone’s emotions play out in their habits and bodies in different ways.
September 28, 2011 at 6:29 pm
Yes, yes, and yes! I personally have stayed at exactly the same weight all year (just got an annual checkup) so suck it, The Knot.
September 28, 2011 at 10:31 pm
1) I have NEVER HEARD of the “Newlywed Nine.” I learn so much from your blog.
2) Are women who get married during their freshman year of college then expected to gain 24 pounds?
3) I have no idea how much I weighed before the wedding, and I have no idea how much I weigh now. Now I’m disoriented! On which side will the shame coin land?
4) I just wondered whether I should go put on my wedding dress to see if it still fits.
6) I shouldn’t be surprised that this is what we get. Milking insecurities = CASH FLOW for so many various industries, both pre- and post-wedding. And I think of that as a relatively new thing. But it’s so weird how the idea that “married women let themselves go” is so ingrained in even older generations. When I saw my grandmother a few months ago for the first time since the wedding, she held me at arm’s length for a moment and exclaimed, “You haven’t gained any weight yet!” Like she’d fully expected me to turn into a shapeless lump by that point (for the record, I don’t have a history of gaining/losing weight rapidly, either).
7) Looking ahead to the long-term, “letting yourself go” is essentially what happens as you age. The older you get, the jigglier. This is science, and it happens to both women AND men. The men seem to get a pass for it, though. Meanwhile, they are still writing sitcom plot lines in which the tubby, balding husband has to roll his eyes and endure while his pretty, thin wife cries hysterically because she can’t fit in her wedding dress anymore. I SMELL PATRIARCHY AT WORK!
September 29, 2011 at 2:03 pm
1) I feel like you should not read my blog if without it you would remain blissfully ignorant of all the WIC-BS I write about. Except I like that you read my blog.
7) Yes. Like, look, if you never want to gain any more weight, than you should not age. Because you will gain weight. Do people really want to spend the rest of their lives feeling too heavy? That seems so miserable to me.
September 29, 2011 at 4:09 pm
“But it’s so weird how the idea that “married women let themselves go” is so ingrained in even older generations. When I saw my grandmother a few months ago for the first time since the wedding, she held me at arm’s length for a moment and exclaimed, “You haven’t gained any weight yet!” Like she’d fully expected me to turn into a shapeless lump by that point”
THIS. Every time my mother-in-law sees me, she makes remarks about how I’ve “gained weight” or “look bigger.” Er, no, I’m pretty much still exactly at my wedding weight, except HEALTHIER now because of eating better/more exercise rather than crazed with stress the way I was right before the wedding. Sometimes it’s all in the eye of the beholder and what s/he is expecting to see…
September 29, 2011 at 12:35 pm
I’ve gained 6 pounds and I’m trying to stop the progression at this point but it is hard..mostly for the reasons you listed before – it’s Autumn and I usually start to go into winter hibernation mode around this time. Gaining 9 pounds is fine – as long as that doesn’t continue over the course of the next few years you know? 9 becomes 15..15 becomes 20..20 becomes…you get the point. Perhaps all these sites are trying to tell us is to recognize it..be fine with it…but reign it in and don’t let it get carried away before it becomes unmanageable.
September 29, 2011 at 2:04 pm
I want to say “don’t think of it as an unstoppable slide,” except I really think it is (see my previous comment). I guess what I mean to say is, yes, even if 6 becomes 15 becomes 20, you’re still you, you’re still awesome.
September 29, 2011 at 3:32 pm
Wooow, I did not know about the newlywed nine either. And have no idea if I have put on weight since the wedding. No idea. But I agree with Sarah above, I love cooking and baking as well and I always hated cooking for myself because it is very hard to make 1 portion and I don’t like to eat leftovers forever. So know I get to cook proper meals. Still I am not sure if that really is a factor, now I eat more healthy than when I was a student (lots of cereal and cookies for dinner ). And coca cola while we studied like crazy. I don’t have a scale so I wouldn’t know. WHat is true though is that we both have a sweet tooth and that means we eat lots of cake and buy sweets and ice cream when we are together. You are smart to point out that Autumn might be the natural cause. And yes, as we age, it is not only that we put weight, our bodies change, it is normal. The muscle / fat distribution and proportions change (in a natural way), it happens to animals as well. You are so right to write about this BS that society feeds us and rebel against it because this processes are natural and we should just focus on being happy, not insecure.
September 30, 2011 at 6:45 pm
I totally gained a bit of weight in my first year of being married and then a teeny bit more in the next four years, but most of it was in the first few months of being married (which for me coincided with living with a romantic partner for the first time). I think it was just eating more awesomely.
(Also, I saw the Sari pic and you guys both looked so happy and so good!)
October 7, 2011 at 12:17 am
I’m gaining weight too. I haven’t stepped on the scale to admit how much, but I’m starting to move into dangerous sausage-in-my-clothes territory. Really I feel like a cliche.
But above you mentioned the exercising for your depression. And yes, I’ve stopped exercising because of my depression, which probably is what has made my spiral down rage on. So perhaps I really need to just get myself to a gym. Easier said than done.
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May 2, 2013 at 10:20 am
Thanks, Robin for such an informative post. My best friend told me about the Newlywed Nine, and then I went searching and found your blog. This has happened to me also. I have gained about nine pounds since being married. This has happened gradually over the course of the last year. I think I look healthier with the nine pounds, I used to be way too skinny. But I really don’t like everywhere seeing adverts for losing weight with Newlywed Nine. Thanks for this great blog post.