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.