Friday, June 28, 2013

The F Word: Wedding Edition

The “I am incomplete until I am thinner” message is a powerful one. Its ubiquity is so absurd that I sometimes wonder how any of us with BMIs over 20 manage to maintain a healthy self esteem. The Thindustry usually blends into the background of my everyday life - a diet pill ad here, a liposuction radio spot there - in a way that doesn’t usually catch my attention.

But I felt bombarded by the fear of Fat at a particular time in my life: during my engagement to Ian. Sure, I saw a few weight loss articles in bridal magazines and the targeted ads on Facebook. Yet, the most significant source of the Thin = Better messages I heard during the months leading up to our wedding was a group I never expected: my loved ones. No matter how important the occasion, it always hurts to hear the ones you love hate on themselves.

Let me be clear: nobody ever told me I should lose weight before my wedding day. Rather, for several of my family and friends, the wedding seemed to act like a catalyst for their otherwise-suppressed weight loss desires. It seemed like everyone close to us followed their congratulations with a brief calculation of how many months they had to lose x amount of weight.

Fortunately, I had a cop-out from this pressure: my wedding dress. I ordered my pretty ivory gown in a size 14, nine months before our big day, so it was imperative that I not lose weight, lest I want to pay beaucoup bucks for alterations on that lacey waistline. Yet, I kept hearing my loved ones malign their own lb’s throughout the wedding planning process. At one point, I felt so overwhelmed by the weight-loss efforts around me that I became a little paranoid about their intentions. Wondering if they were trying to make a subtle suggestion, I asked my bridesmaid sadly, “Am I supposed to be trying to lose weight?”

She reassured me of their intentions, and I got over it. July 10th arrived, I was at my normal weight, and I felt very pretty.

I’ll remember my engagement and my wedding day mostly for the obvious joyous reasons. But that time also sticks with me for a less pleasant one: it brought into stark contrast the beauty I see in my loved ones against their own body images. Faceless bureaucrats telling me I’m fat hurts; hearing my loved ones embrace those awful messages hurts even more.

At the end of the day, we should all try our darndest to see ourselves the way our loved ones see us. Let’s be our own Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones's Diary:

Mark: But the thing is, uhm, what I'm trying to say, very inarticulately, is that, uhm, in fact, perhaps despite appearances, I like you. Very much.
Bridget: Apart from the smoking and the drinking and the vulgar mother and the verbal diarrhea...
Mark: No, I like you very much. Just as you are.

Our third anniversary is coming up, and I look forward to reminiscing about the love we felt that sunny day in July. Most of all, I remember everyone looking like the best versions of themselves, but not because they were dressed up, or were wearing fancy makeup, or had lost weight. Our wedding guests looked beautiful because their faces were lit up with happiness. I’ll take happiness over dress size any day of the year; it looks good on everyone.


Bridget said...

To me, it's one of those things where who you are is such an intensely personal one should tell you should be a certain weight, a given eye color, love a different one should.

But the rub comes in when you're trying to help and support a friend, things get gray. I remember one person telling me something about dating someone who was mentally ill and it being this horribly judgmental conversation...but it came from a place where they were worried about me and what it was doing to me.

So, when it comes to weddings and such, I think people generally have a good heart, they're not trying to be so...difficult. But they are.

And times like this also emphasize the worries we have about ourselves, too. It doesn't mean it should, but it can sometimes be a catalyst for feeling about changing something. And then the words spill out, oops.

Anne said...

"And times like this also emphasize the worries we have about ourselves, too." - That is such a great point, and a perspective I probably should have included. At least we have it here :)

Renee said...

Good post. I'm glad you didn't stress because you looked flawless on your wedding day! And anyway, when we look back at pictures, it's how happy we are that stands out, not our waistlines.