How to deal with pressure to lose weight for your wedding

How to deal pressure to lose weight for your wedding

I am not a skinny girl, and I have been trying to justify loving myself as I am, feeling beautiful in the body I have and trying to accept my body no matter what size. My boyfriend (who wants to propose this year) loves me the way I am, and I love him the way he is. But I have serious anxieties about my mother scrutinizing my weight all through the engagement process… "No wedding dresses are going to look attractive on you if you don't lose a good XX pounds!" "MOM!" "Well, it's true."

If my mother criticizes me and doesn't stop, how do I deal with it? How do I tell her to back off without pissing her off or giving her a brush-off answer? -Sarah

Hoo boy.

We all know that weight loss is a hot button issue in women's publications, and it's one we normally avoid on Offbeat Bride. We avoid it not because it isn't important, but because it's incredibly pervasive and talked about everywhere — and I don't think it should be tied to wedding planning.

As we say in the Code of Conduct for our Offbeat Bride Tribe members:

No weight-loss/negative body image talk

This is a touchy subject, and without a doubt our most controversial rule: The Tribe is not the place to talk about weight loss, or negative body image. Too many wedding communities are overtaken by unhealthy, triggering discussions, and our aim on the Tribe is to promote positive attitudes of self-acceptance.

We are about celebrating all body shapes, sizes, and abilities, and encourage our members to find ways not to snark or talk negatively about their own bodies. We discourage insulting anyone's body — and includes your own!

I am all for making the decision to lose weight — but strongly believe the decision should NOT have anything to do with A) wedding planning, or B) pressure from others, even family members who love you.

That said, I do have two potential communication strategies for how you could handle this situation with your mother.

The quick boundary

The next time the issue comes up, simply tell your mother "It means so much to me that you care so much about me. That said, I hope you can respect that I've put a lot of thought into this issue, and honor the fact that I've made a different decision than you might. Please trust my ability to make choices about my body that work best for me. I don't want to talk about this any more."

If she presses the issue, make the line very clear: "Again, I really appreciate that this means so much to you, but I've told you where I stand on the issue. If you bring it up again, I'm going to have to end this conversation."

If she pushes it again, try this: reach out and hold her hand in yours (if that feels right), look into her eyes and say, "I love you, and I'm done talking about this." Then get up, and walk the fuck away.

Lather, rinse, and repeat as the issue comes up. I know it feels harsh (…walk away?) but really all you're doing is articulating that A) you love her, B) you hear her, C) you're clear about where you stand on the issue, and willing to draw very clear boundaries around talking about it.

The longer discussion

Ok, so maybe you want to use this as an opportunity to have a longer discussion about the issue. That's awesome, if you've got the energy for it. (I'm not sure I would, if I were in the thick of wedding planning.)

Here are the conversation tools I'd use:

  • First, recognize that your mother is coming from a place of concern — however misguided it may be. She wants you to look pretty and feel good and be healthy — all things you likely want too (even if you disagree with how to get there). Frame all conversations around recognizing this common ground.
  • Pick a few of your favorite self-identified plus-size brides from our site to show your mother. Show her clear examples of how beautiful and happy brides of ALL sizes look on their wedding days.
  • Talk about the feelings that come up for you when she talks about weight loss and your wedding. Does it make you feel like she doesn't support you? Does it bring up feelings of fear around her being disappointed in you? Avoid blame ("You make me feel sad!"), but articulate the emotions that come up after these conversations.
  • Share the process you've gone through to get to the place of body positivity. Tell her about what makes you feel confident and good in your body. Give her clear ideas about how she could contribute to those feelings.
  • Read together — print out a few posts from our body image archive, and talk over what you relate to there, and what you disagree with. I also highly recommend the Fat Bride Survival Guide, written by an Offbeat Bride we featured in 2008.

I'd love to hear from brides who've dealt with this issue: how do you deal with pressure from family? I want to be very, VERY clear here: I'm not interested in hearing about whether anyone should or should not lose weight for their wedding. That's a personal decision, and not one that people on the internet have any place telling you how to make.

What I want to hear from y'all about is this: if someone has made the decision NOT to lose weight, how can they constructively deal with pressure from friends, families, or vendors?

  1. So I can't necessarily relate to pressures to lose weight as I'm very skinny. However, my mother did express the occasional concern about my wedding that put a damper on my enthusiasm.

    When she was discussing the problems with my sister's purple hair, I commented "This is something I was super excited about and your comments are making me lose my joy. I want to be happy and excited about my wedding so don't take that from me." She promptly apologized and dropped the subject. I imagine a similar line could work when discussing dress shopping, or how you look in your dress, or photography, or whatever the context is where your mother might bring up your appearance.

    1 agrees
  2. I am not plus size, but I've got my fair share of body image problems.

    Despite the fact that I'm the 'correct weight' and might even be considered skinny, there's a lot of body shaming I've come across. I'm 5'10", 150lbs wear size 14 pants and a 32B bra. Just that simple number – 14 – has caused me to break out in tears before. Not because I'm ashamed – that's simply the way my body is – but because when people start talking about it, they suddenly look at me like I'm a freak and usually insist "no way! You can't be a size 14" in a disgusted voice.

    So far, my best way of shutting people down is "and this matters because?" Often people just need that reminder that this is totally inappropriate.

    2 agree
    • Don't feel like a freak! Every time you say that and people look at you like you're crazy, what you're doing is changing their perceptions! Don't back down, and don't change what you say. The more everyone is just like, "Yeah…. this is what it is. Whatever," the less important it will all become.

      2 agree
  3. For some reason, nobody has asked me if I'm losing weight for the wedding– they just automatically assume I am. So I have so many people coming to me and saying "You look like you're losing weight!" When um, nope. It's the same old me! I've taken to answering, "No, I just look ten pounds heavier in mental pictures." ;)

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  4. People butt in when you're too skinny too (though it takes a lot more to get there). I lost a bunch of weight because of a parasite, and my mom kept being on me about being "too skinny" and trying to gain more weight BACK to the point that it was making me feel bad, so I told her that I heard her concern, but that her comments about my body were not helping me. She hasn't said much since.

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  5. I am a plus size girl and I come from a plus size family. Due to the stress involved in planning my wedding, I actually put on weight, they had to let my dress out. Twice. I am a comfort eater and I'd wager that I am not the only one. The ladies who ran the bridal store told me something that I have always remembered "The size is just a number, as long as you look and feel beautiful nothing else matters"

    And you know what… It didn't matter. I looked beautiful on my wedding day and I look beautiful in my wedding photos (though they are the only photos of me I do consider beautiful.) (( I wish I could post one here so people could see lol))

    1 agrees
  6. This is an awesome post.
    It's odd how weddings (and to a greater extent pregnancy) make women's bodies such public property that almost complete strangers feel comfortable discussing something so private ("How are you going to get your boobs into something strapless?!" "Err, I'm not? And when the hell did it become any of your business?").

    I did lose a bunch of weight before the wedding for various unrelated reasons and my horror now comes from the 'when you going to pile it all back on' questions. "Now you've trapped him I bet you can eat what you like" was a particular low point, and I'm really grateful for this post's suggestions about boundaries and how to set them.
    Screw them unthinking haters and their gallons of (lo-cal) Hateraid.

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  7. One of the best decisions I made was to GO DRESS SHOPPING BY MYSELF! I love my friends and family, but I wanted what 'I' wanted, and didn't want to be swayed or discouraged by their opinions. I went to a bridal shop that I knew would have dresses to try that were actually my size. I picked a dress that looked great on my body. I later involved a similarly-sized and brutally honest friend once I'd chosen the dress. And I brought my mom and grandmother to the fittings. That way they were involved, but the dress itself was MY choice.

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  8. The pressure is everywhere for me, so I empathize. I'm on the fence between normal and plus-size in a family of mostly-plus-size females. I've had to hear about diet stress, diet failure, diet this and diet that since before I knew what the word "diet" meant. My mother offered to get me liposuction before I had any fat to suck out, just because my family is sensitive to the issue. With that in mind, I know that there is NO WAY I am going to be able to stop their comments about losing weight for the wedding. I can't control what they say, so I have to control how I react. I have two things that help me keep it all in perspective.

    The Mister and I were talking about HIS ideal wedding a while ago. It was an eye-opening conversation in a lot of ways, let me tell you, but none more so than when I asked him to envision what my dress looked like. He got misty-eyed just IMAGINING me in a wedding dress. Just thinking about it made him almost cry. I think he's happy with the size I am, no? If he doesn't have a problem with it, why should I? He's the one what has to look at it, amirite? :-P In all seriousness, though, he and I are the ones who get a say in what I look like, and he's only in an advisory position. I am happier with myself now than I was when I was sixty pounds lighter. THAT is what matters.

    The other thing is that I told my family up-front how this was going to go down with regards to wedding dresses. (They didn't believe me, but I DID warn them.) I can't remember who said this on the Tribe like a bazillion years ago, but the mother-of-the-bride in the situation talked about losing weight for wedding dresses. The bride's response was something like "Bitch, PLEASE. That dress needs to fit onto ME, not the other way around." No one expects you to lose weight to fit into a nice pair of jeans or comfy sweatpants. The idea is totally backwards; just buy clothes that fit you, that make you feel like you look good. That's how I'm looking at wedding dresses. There are so many resources out there for brides of all shapes and sizes; it's not true that you have to be a size 2 or 8 or 10 to look gorgeous on your wedding day. And honestly, a bride is ALWAYS gorgeous, to my innocent-bystander eyes, and I don't think I'm the only person who feels that way.

    This is how I keep the pressure from getting to me, even if I can't stop the comments from others. I hope that helps!

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  9. Discussions like this are why I love OBB! It is great to hear "it's your body, do what YOU want, and only for yourself!"

    I have dealt with some misguided wedding advice from my grandmother. She is the sweetest little old lady ever, and I understand she just wants things to be perfect for me on the big day, but obviously our ideas of perfect differ. The last time this discussion was raised I just told her that I had my dress custom fit, and it just wouldn't look right if I lose any weight. Luckily she knows I have a very limited budget because I am a full time student, so alterations are out of the question haha.

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  10. I am a hardcore, hippie-ish feminist who prides herself on her super-postive body image (blahblah the most revolutionary thing you can do as a woman is love your body blahblahbah) having a tiny, mountain wedding where I will be wearing a crazy sequin dress. I'm also 38. I cannot stop thinking about getting my 11 lines (you know, those two lines above my nose I got from scowling at everbody in Brooklyn) Botoxed. It's fucking sick. I have no kind of wedding pressure of any kind and I will be married in front of a teeny number of family and my small handful of besties. I also have thick bangs that cover my forehead. CANNOT UNWANT BOTOX IN THESE LINES. CANNOT STOP OVERINTELLECTUALIZING THIS WANT IN A FEMINIST CONTEXT. Ugh.

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    • The feminist self-flagellation that comes with this kind of thing was the hardest part for me. I'm hesitant to link this (both because it caused a massive shitstorm when I wrote it 6 years ago, and because not all of it fits within the Offbeat Empire's voice), but I touch on some of these same issues here.

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      • Thanks for posting this article! I've definitely struggled with getting flack from both sides on the weight issue… from family telling me I'd look so much better if I slimmed down, to my fellow feminists imploring me to not let the patriarchy control me like that! I think when it comes to matters of changing appearance, there really is no "one size fits all" method. The little quiz that I run any decisions through is this: 1) Is this a personal desire to change, or is this because someone else wants me to change? 2) Are the methods I'm planning on using to change safe and healthy? 3) In ten years, is it possible I would look back on this decision and regret it?

        And most importantly, taking a moment every day to remember that my sexiest body part is my brain. Look at you, foxy brain! All those thoughts and feelings… rwar!

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      • I grew up with the opposite mother: she had me on a scale daily starting at age 10, and weight stuff definitely re-emerges around the wedding.

        I wish I would have seen that Alternet post six years ago :-) At the time, I was teaching a 300 person Intro to Gender Studies course. I agonized about how to stand in front of that course as an overweight woman and talk about body image issues, AND acknowledge the obesity epidemic and the negative health impacts of my own job (ass in chair) at the same time. It wasn't feminist self-flagellation – it was: how do we think about these things together? I think your Alternet piece is a step in that direction.

        Ultimately: in the US, we have a really fucked up approach to food and bodies, that leaves us in this weird space with all these things that we can't figure out how to talk about heathily. Wedding planning exacerbates all that x100.

        Why in the world would we talk about losing weight to look better in a dress? We should be talking about doing whatever it takes – and that is really different for every person – to feel great in our bodies and support our brains, which are part of our bodies after all, every day!

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  11. June of last year, I decided I was tired of having zero energy, and I was going to do something about it. I started eating healthier, and forced myself to start going to a gym. In October, my BF became my fiance. This had NOTHING to do with my new eating habits or exercise program. He had just gotten out of the hospital after a 12 day stay for apendicitis and realized we don't always get all the time we think we will. He decided he didn't have to come up with the perfect proposal and just asked. It was the perfect proposal because it was a complete surprise (I love surprises!) and it came from the heart.

    The problem I've had during my wedding planning is not people telling me I need to lose weight for the wedding. It's been their assumption that the weight I've been losing as I've been eating healthier is due to the wedding. I have explained countless times that I'm not trying to lose weight for my wedding, I'm trying to eat healthier and work out more to improve my self image and to live a healthier life. I try to take a gentle approach when I explain this. "Actually, I hadn't even thought about losing weight for the wedding, I was just tired of being tired all the time." This tends to make most people change how they're looking at it. There have been some that persist in asking how the wedding weightloss is coming along, and I've started to either ignore the question or simply say "I'm not losing weight for the wedding." and change the subject. My response to that question depends entirely on who is asking it.

    I've seen a LOT of good information already about how people have dealt with this question. Much of it is better than my two cents, but I can only talk about my situation. I'm not skinny, and I'm never going to be. I AM much more comfortable in my skin than I was last year in June but I think that has more to do with the energy I have now that I'm eating better for my metabolic rate. I was fortunate that my family didn't even mention my weight when they heard about the engagement. I do wish I'd known some of these things before. It would have made holidays more enjoyable with the more judgey members of my Southern family.

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    • Like you, I started to change my lifestyle around the time I got engaged. I started eating well, and I challenged myself to run a half marathon. At the same time, I started losing weight. I was so tired of people telling me "good job for losing weight for the wedding" when in reality, the weight loss was just a byproduct of this whole self-empowerment journey I started. Each time a person mentioned my wedding and new lifestyle in the same breath, I felt like they were erasing my agency to determine my own motivation. It was really frustrating, and at times, those comments actually threatened to de-rail the pro-empowerment, kick ass attitude I was maintaining about my new fitness routine.

      But I stayed strong, and honestly, finishing that half-marathon was probably one of my greatest accomplishments because I did it for ME and not for my partner, society, or anyone else.

      3 agree
  12. When I got engaged I confess I started looking at myself in terms of "how will I look in a wedding dress, in photos that will last forever?". However, I am actually glad I did, if only because that was my wake-up call that I really had gotten unhealthily large. I honestly didn't realize it before. Sure, I kept having to buy new clothes, and didn't like the way I looked in anything, but I never had before anyway, and nobody was calling me fat, so I just… didn't realize. So I started losing weight and exercising a little, and I felt wonderful and empowered and all the things that come with being a healthy weight. But then the tables turned again and I started making my goal a date (the wedding) instead of a feeling or a ratio (BMI) or something. I started telling myself I had to lose X pounds by this date. Which was a good motivator for me, but then left me feeling relieved and done with health management after the wedding. I gained almost everything back after the wedding, because I had made that my goal instead of a healthy lifestyle. Argh! So now I have to try to motivate myself back to health again. Ah well. I am learning to love my body without becoming accepting of my health problems, mostly with help from OBB, so hopefully I can feel pretty but still motivated to be healthy. :)

    1 agrees
  13. "Being fat at the holidays" link up-thread, and this discussion thread have been eye-opening for me.

    If you switch out "fat" for "divorced", then you have the essence of every interaction with my mother, and even a relative stranger or three–essentially, people who feel strangely comfortable judging you and your life. I guess the whiff of "failure" is too tantalizing to resist; some folks seem to delight in projecting their own relationship fears by forecasting my own (repeated) doom. So though I'm not plus-sized, I found this discussion very helpful and surprisingly applicable to my own wedding stresses. Thanks for this.

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  14. In struggling with my weight, my mother has made some pretty crass, judgmental, rude, and totally hurtful comments. Coming from a place of love where she thinks she's supporting me! I had spent WEEKS dreading a trip back to my hometown to visit, because we invariably go shopping (usually sharing a fitting room if they were busy or just to skip the step of walking out to say "what do you think of this?") and I knew she was going to make commentary about the weight I had gained since the last time she saw me. I was psyching myself up for a big long discussion, I wanted so badly for her to understand that I RECOGNIZED that she was just trying to be helpful, but that I was on the verge of triggering an eating disorder and I didn't need her to help me get there.

    I stepped out of a fitting room to ask her opinion and said, "Mom, I need your thoughts on how this fits me without making judgey comments about my body." She was clearly taken aback, but THAT WAS ALL THAT WAS SAID!

    And a year and a half later, there have been no comments about my body, and questions about me going to exercise have been phrased JUUUST differently enough to be noticeable, with a much less aggressive, accusatory, guilt-inducing tone of voice. All that anxiety and it was a flippant, off-hand comment that made the moment work without hurt feelings. It totally could have gone the other way, but I lucked out. I was sure we were going to revert back to our relationship when I was 14 because I totally felt like a petulant child when I said it–but she took it as an adult setting boundaries and it worked!

    If you think your relationship can handle it, a seemingly off-hand comment that's direct but not "picking a fight" might be the way to go (although mine was totally picking a fight so I don't necessarily recommend it!). I think ultimately *I* would have been happier with a more in-depth discussion, because I still worry that I made my mom feel bad. So, to each their own.

    1 agrees
  15. Wow, the number of replies to the original post just goes to show how much we young women share in common! I didn't feel pressure to lose while approaching my wedding (which was last week ;) ), but I did put on a couple of pounds. Stress and being unwell meant that I was unable to maintain my normally active lifestyle. On my wedding day I still managed to feel good about myself, and it was mostly because I was marrying my sweetie and because I had all of the people I love most in the same place to celebrate (and party) with me. With this in mind, I was joyful and totally let any of my body image stuff go.

    I also had a second dress to put on later in the evening, and that happened to help a whole lot as well! ;) It was an outdoor wedding, and though gorgeous, it was hotter than the hubs of hell being in a wedding dress all day. I had the second dress for 'just in case' I felt gross later on, which I did, and I could change into something equally as beautiful as my wedding dress, but more colorful, and comfortable! I was surprised how good I felt about myself after I slipped away and changed, to make my second reveal of the night! No one knew I had the extra dress, so it was a surprise, and I got many more compliments about how pretty I looked. How could that be bad?!?

    Ironically, I had more of a struggle with body image on my honeymoon than I did at the wedding. Now that I'm back to normal life (ie non-planning mania), I feel an urgency to get my life back under control. Settling into a healthy, active lifestyle is my focus now. At least it's not as daunting as planning a wedding (to me, anyhow)!

    1 agrees
  16. About 2-3 years ago, I lost a lot of weight. I stopped working towards my goal weight/fitness and went back to school with about 15 lbs or so left to shed. I ended up taking this summer off and decided to use my new free time to get crackin–I enjoy being fit and active and it was great to have the time to work on my goals.

    Problem is, I'm now engaged. I have a big ol ring on my left hand or on a chain around my neck and that apparently kills any desire for self improvement/change for the sake of improvement/change–it must be because of the wedding. Every trainer I've talked to, every fellow gym person I've talked to, even my friends and family and future in laws–they all say something like "Oh! So you've got a dress to fit into then? Good for you for getting a head start!" WHAT THE FUCK. It makes me so stabby that because I happen to be planning a wedding, anything I decide to do with myself, my life and my body must be focused on that. The rest of my life up until now was just killing time until the Big Day.

    I hate the pressure to be thin and perfect and I hate the idea that I'm just working towards being a motherfucking princess and that I'm incapable of thinking, doing or planning anything not wedding related for the next 11 months.

    3 agree
    • I am so with you on this. I'm in the same situation, I lost a lot of weight in the past year for my own health-related reasons, and got engaged a month ago and I'm finding myself involuntarily swept up in the whole "losing weight for the wedding" garbage. Drives me crazy that it's so ingrained into our culture to assume that I couldn't possibly be doing it for reasons other than "fitting into" (ugh I hate that phrase) a wedding dress.

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  17. My parents have long been concerned about my health, even before I was overweight, because my grandma had diabetes and they are afraid that I will get it, too. And I certainly don't want to get it! The trouble is that the way my parents broach the subject of my weight, it always manages to make me feel worse about myself, which makes me rebel and want to eat even more. It doesn't help that my parents are both very active (their retirement helps with that) and my mom and my aunt have both been losing weight with Weight Watchers. I feel like I am under constant assault by reminders about weight from them.

    Now that I am engaged, there is extra (though subtle) pressure from my family to lose weight. My mom, for instance, made a comment about how I should maybe wait to get measured for my dress, "in case you lose any weight." While this was more positive than saying "in case you gain any weight," the comment was still very loaded, implying that the way I am right now is not good enough. I also felt awful at the bridal shops I went to. David's Bridal had nothing in my size, but if I wanted to order something to my measurements, I would have to pay for it up front, and if I didn't like the result, I'd only get store credit. I didn't want to risk it. At the other stores I went to, the dresses were all multiple sizes too small for me, and I felt like I was being stuffed into a straightjacket with every dress I tried on. So much for that "you'll fall in love with your dress" dream! But in addition to the traditional wedding dresses, I also tried on a large number of bridesmaid dresses. I found a knee-length one that I really like, which very much my style (modern, but with a retro feel), has a fitted waist and flared skirt that flatters my curves, and can be ordered in pretty much any color, including ivory. Plus it costs far less than a "real" wedding gown. I tried the dress on in dark blue, so it will be a surprise to me to finally try it on in ivory once it arrives. My mom lives across the country from me, and I emailed her pictures of me trying it on. I also deliberately sent pictures of me in dresses that were much too small, so that the contrast was even more evident, highlighting that the non-traditional dress is far more flattering than the traditional ones.

    My parents offered to help pay for a weight-loss plan, and I finally decided to let them help me, but under my own terms. I told them that I want to do an online program where I can manage my weight myself, rather than feeling obligated to other people's ideas of what I should be doing, and I told them that I need positive encouragement, not negative nagging. I also emphasized that I am doing this for me, not for my wedding, not for anyone else's ideas of how I should look in my wedding dress, etc. My fiance loves me just as I am, and thinks my body is incredibly sexy, so I am not doing it for him, either. I did, however, set myself a goal: we want to go hiking in Europe either for our honeymoon next year, or soon thereafter. My goal is to be able to comfortably hike several miles a day for a couple of weeks in a row. No set weight. No set size. Just something that lets me have more fun exploring with my soon-to-be husband.

    1 agrees
  18. People are SO nosy about it, no matter your size. I'm 6ft tall and 160lbs, putting me at about a size 8 or so. I have a little tummy flab and I've got some serious baby-birthing-hips, but I'm not really a big girl. I had a customer of mine ask "So, how much weight did you lose for your wedding?" Wait.. what? Um, none?

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  19. There is a whole movement of Fat Admirers (who refer to themselves as "FA") who are slowly coming out of the woodwork. Maybe your mom could check out some of those websites and get a feel for how the negative comments make people who love fat people (and fat people themselves!) feel. She obviously thinks she's helping, and might just need a new point of view. My mom put me on my first diet when I was 7 years old, and it's been an uphill battle since then. I'm 30 now, and she's mostly given up… but we haven't been dress shopping yet. I AM getting lots of static from my friends though, which makes me wonder why it's ok for me to go about daily life being overweight, but not ok to be overweight on this ONE DAY? =/ Whatever.

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  20. I find turning it around works quite well (though is a little rude).
    When people ask if you are trying to loose weight for the wedding, hold their hand, look into their eyes and say,
    "I'm so sorry, is everything ok at home? Because verbal abuse is still abuse. My partner loves me the way I am an doesn't need me to change, don't ever let anyone try and change you."
    It makes them realize how hideous they sound, and you don't get shouty! :)

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  21. I'm getting married in four weeks. I chose not to diet. There are several reasons why, but the main one is this: I've witnessed several friends lose weight for their weddings, then put it back on again afterwards and beat themselves up about it…for years. "I now weigh two stone more than I did on my wedding day *sob*."

    I don't want to be comparing myself to an unrealistic, unsustainable 'wedding-day weight' for the rest of my life.

    3 agree
  22. Erh.Merh.Garrhhhh. Or rather, OhMyGod, look at all these posts. A nerve's been hit. And I know I'm not alone in my worries.

    I have always struggled to love myself because of my weight. My boyfriend of nine years proposed last summer when my mother was sick and dying. We were out walking our dog, and it was Mother's Day weekend. He had to hurry home to go back to work, and he popped the question. My first answer was "Yes!" My second answer was "Yes, but…is it just because of the cancer?"

    He assured me it wasn't, though I doubted it for months after. I said I wanted to ask for my mother's blessing. When we got back with the dog, we said we had big news. Mom looked expectant. David told her and she stood right up as if she was as fit as ever. She hugged us both and we gave her flowers from the mountainside, and she rushed to find her old rings in exchange.

    But as some dire weeks passed, she also sat up late at night watching "Say Yes To The Dress" and showing her open disgust at plus-sized brides-to-be, letting me know if I was to be married, I'd better not disappoint her beyond the grave.

    "When I die, don't get fat!" she said. "I know you're easily depressed!" I didn't know if I'd shared extra stressful news with her along with the reality of her condition. Maybe we shouldn't have told her about our engagement? She was dying…but I might get fat and look ugly in some dumb frock from David's Bridal. And there was no time for a quick wedding what with our plans to get Mom home for a final visit to Finland, where she hadn't visited in ten years since her own Mom's passing, and our hands were full already organizing hospice and preparing ourselves to understand and communicate with hospice services abroad.

    The good/bad news is she made it home and died there. I think it's what she wanted, though I can't be sure. Maybe she got all caught up in the barn-raisin' atmosphere of "get Mama home" and never felt brave enough to speak up for what she really wanted. Maybe it all felt like a train speeding out of control. But now, just over a year past her loss, I feel terribly guilty for getting married…and getting fat.

    I got her old dress out of the bottom of a box. She'd never showed it to me to hope about because she was always thinner. It upset me to hear that my awesome friend, a dressmaker doing me such a huge kindness in tailor making my dress so that I don't even have to know what the hell size I am, had to "block" the lace sleeves to expand them. I thought, "Mama would be so disappointed."

    It took months to get it started, but I'm now going to a bereavement group. It seems odd to do this in tandem with wedding planning but at least I feel I have a place ot put my grief and not just feel guilty about the bittersweetness of honoring a sacrament of marriage without her. I know I should be talking about body issues but body and spirit are to me the same. I'd love to see some posts on Offbeat Bride about honoring loved ones who've passed away. Right now I feel the only way to honor Mom would be to magically become the 30- or 40-pounds lighter person she thought I'd be if I'd just put down the comfort food for a while.

    Yes, the self-loathing is just so tiresome and I'm sorry to risk posting it here, as I respect the Tribe's statements at the time I joined. But equally tiresome is the pressure from comments of "Oh, you'll be so beautiful on your big day!" when you just don't believe it, and here, I'm seeking some support on that. Sometimes I just want to hear the truth: You're very organized, and thanks for getting out your invitations on time. No pressure to be pretty!

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  23. My mom and I have been at war over my weight since forever. So I was prepared for the weight loss pressure when my fella produced an engagement ring. I chose to not try to lose weight for a lot of reasons…

    Very top of the list, he fell in love with me and my curves the way we look now. So I knew what his vote would be.

    Then I started making my DIY list. OH MY GOODNESS!!!! I'm a professional floral designer, broke and crafty. We were paying for this shindig ourselves, so I was out to save every dime I could. All the decorations and flowers were my babies. We had an outdoor ceremony and an indoor reception, so some of the decorating could be done the night before, but the bride was still up at 6am decorating a gazebo the morning of. Plus, we home catered. A dessert buffet. I made several things I had never made before, and everything had to be tasted. (Filled cakeballs decorated like hand dipped chocolates, baklava, bite sized cheesecakes, Italian Creme Cake………and lots more) We had a full on BBQ dinner, most of which was made the night before. Who needed all the pressure of weighing, counting calories and all that?

    Besides, on a short notice, I bought my awesome, first choice, gotta have it dress secondhand at a great deal. So my goal became maintaining my weight so that it wasn't too tough for my amazing cousin to make it fit like a glove. I threw in some fire engine red accessories and felt like a 1940s movie star as I walked down the aisle. DH had tears in his eyes, and our nephew was whispering that I looked beautiful, what else can a girl ask for?

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  24. This is a wonderful article and a legitmate concern! I'm a bride to be, and while no one is pushing me to lose weight, I have been beating myself up about losing weight for the wedding because I want to look and feel beautiful – and I want to enjoy my photos. I saw this posted on Facebook the other day, and reading it nearly made me cry. It's a blog post from a photographer, who makes such an incredible point, it's really helped me change how hard I am on my own self-image!
    http://myfriendteresablog.com/so-youre-feeling-too-fat-to-be-photographed/
    I highly, HIGHLY recommend it! It's eye opening and profound.

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  25. I'm overweight. I get given reserved seats in public transportation a lot, because people think I'm pregnant. It's not like I don't care, but I had made the decision of not trying to lose it before the wedding.

    ALL women I interacted with during the wedding preparation told me I HAD to lose weight, with the sole exception of the vendor who sold me my dress (other vendors said something on the lines of "should" rather than "have"). My vendor actually asked me to maintain my weight, so there wouldn't be problems with the dress fitting. To all the others (including mom and mother-in-law) I simply, but forcefully, said "I don't have to and I won't lose weight. My guy loves me the way I am, he doesn't need me to be thinner to think I'm pretty". After a few times of this, they stopped bugging me.

    With the vendors who told me they thought they didn't have dresses that would look good on me, or pressured me to try pregnancy wedding dresses, I just showed them: I would insist on trying on dresses that I liked, rather than the ones they chose, and to their amazement they would look good on me. Because, like you say, brides are beautiful, no matter their weight!
    So my advice is: if you decide your weight is the one you're taking with you on your wedding day, say so and say it as frequently as needed. Avoid being bitchy (it's super hard, sometimes, especially when you're being told the same thing for the 20th time!) but show your decision has been made and nothing will make you change your mind. Rock that gorgeous bod with pride!

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  26. Wow. What a great article. I guess I just grew up with a different mind-set. I can't imagine my mother telling me I need to loose weight to look good in a wedding dress. This time in your life is already stressful enough, there's no need to add any extra stresses on your life because of somebody else's opinion.

    I am a wedding photographer and have seen all shapes and sizes and can tell you 100%, every bride I have seen is beautiful. Every bride has that amazing glow about her on the day of her wedding, and your photos will show this.

    Screw what anyone else thinks. As long as you're happy, that's all that matters.
    Never change anything about you for anyone but yourself.

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  27. I love this post. I am a plus size bride marrying in December. I have always been curvy but over the last few years piled on quite a bit more weight due to some health issues. My partner loves me exactly the way I am, but my mother keeps pestering me about how i will get some weight off before the wedding. To be honest, I would love to loose some weight, but I am not going to go on a diet, I am eating healthy, watching portion size and exercising. My 18 year old son is annorexic and I don't ever want to show him that weight defines who I am. I am having my dress made and the dress maker, bless her heart, told me my curves are to be celebrated. I will look great in a dress made for me!

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  28. I think wedding planning was the only time in my entire life that mum didn't hound me to lose weight which I found very refreshing and I think I still expected it from her the entire time. Honestly I'm plus sized and what ever I did I was still going to be plus sized and well I had a wedding to plan. A lot of other people (including most of his family) talking to me about dieting to fit into a dress but I pointed out how silly it was in my circumstances to add extra pressure to myself to try and fit into a dress that didn't fit me or to buy a dress a size smaller hoping I would fit into it by the wedding. In fact I had bought a dress a size larger, with a corset so I didn't need to worry about it. Most of them shut up after that.

    I was worried about the dress shopping too. I ended up ringing around dress shops to ask what sized dresses they had on the rack for me to try on. I only went to shops that had my size or larger. I found some awesome dresses and actually had a hard time deciding which one I loved more.
    I actually had a far bigger problem with my bridesmaid dresses. All the bridesmaids are much smaller than I am but most of them were blessed with significant cleavage that needed the dress to cover bras (strapless was not going to happen). The shops were far less accommodating for bridesmaids that for brides (despite it meaning more money because of the number of bridesmaids). We ended up having to get their dresses made as we couldn't find anywhere that had dresses that would fit them all.

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  29. My first wedding was full of negative body image issues from all sides. I was told by the grooms grandmother that I was too big for the dress that I was wearing. I was told by my mother & the groom's that I should choose other bridesmaids because they would make my pictures ugly (we had my pregnant sister and my ex's best friend of the time who was a big gal). I did not handle those productively, I just told them to get over it (pretty much in those exact words) and did what I wanted anyways. My dress fit & our pictures turned out fine.

    This time around it started last year when my fiance's sister got married. She asked me to be a bridesmaid at her wedding, which I agreed to do. She never said anything about my size (I'm a petite XL, usually between a 12-16 depending on brand, so I tend to look even bigger), when she was dress shopping she started talking about how she needed to get rid of a few pounds (mind you she is already a size 4) and all of her other bridesmaids were also super skinny. I felt a lot of pressure, even though nobody SAID anything, to be tiny. Finally, I explained to her that her negative body image and self-hate was making me feel uncomfortable. She stopped saying anything around me. I still looked like I was in a big gray sack at her wedding, I blame the dress choice, not my body!

    Fast forward to this year and my wedding, she still said nothing to me about my weight or anything, but began to bug her brother about "getting fit" for the wedding. He doesn't have any health problems related to his weight, so we all knew what she was talking about. He told her to drop it, but I don't think she ever will.

    Funny anecdote: While dress shopping with future mother-in-law we came across a very skinny bride (even smaller than her daughter, probably a 1 or 0) who was talking about dropping weight. My fml turned around, at David's Bridal and said to a complete stranger, "If you lose any weight, there won't be anything left!" Then proceeded to pick out dresses for fsl to try on. I lost it! Not to say there is anything wrong with being skinny either, that is.

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  30. I love this post and am totally choked up reading it. I am a plus size bride too, I get married September 2014. I bought a beautiful dress 2 years ago in a bridal sale. It was a bit tight at the time but I figured it would be fine for when I needed it. Fast forward to now and I am freaking out that I will never fit it. I have various health problems that have caused me to gain weight, plus a mother that thinks I need to be skinny to be a perfect bride because after all 'you need to look at those pictures for the rest of your life Kirsty'. Its awful that we let other people and their monsters into our heads and hurt us but it is so difficult when that person is your mother. Whenever she mentions it I just feel like eating a massive bit of cake! The wedding industry attitude generally sucks but I'm so glad I found you guys, real people who know every bride looks awesome no matter what she weighs!

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  31. Since getting engaged I've had multiple people not offer me dessert because they assume I'm dieting. When I have dessert or in general when people make comments about my wedding weight, I just tell them "I'm working on it." The fact of the matter is that people don't know what you do when they're not around. I go to the gym 3 times a week because it makes me feel healthy not because I'm "losing weight for the wedding. So if I want to have dessert by golly I'm gonna get it. Let people know you have a handle on your weight. Even if that means you are doing nothing because you are happy with your self.

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  32. I'm a bigger bride and the trying on dresses I think was the hardest part especially in wedding dress world where a size 18 in reality is a wedding size 26!!! (That was a bit hard to swallow). Its just hit new years so I keep being asked by vendors and random people I meet if my new years resolution is to lose weight for the wedding in 8 months. At first it hurt, I wondered why people were so mean and if I should lose more weight.

    And then I realizes these people where taking away from the happiest moment of my life. So I have now ordered my dress in the size I am currently and thats awesome because the more weight I lose the more it will cost for my dress to be altered, I'm not going to give in to the pressure of everyone else and my budget couldnt handle it either :)

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  33. Mothers can be VERY hard without really mean it. I wasn't a plus size bride (I'll send in our wedding soon!), I had my dress custom made, and that didn't stop my mom from telling me that I should lose weight… in front of my seamstress at the very first try of what my dress would be. My seamstress looked at her, then looked at me, and said (mouth full of pins, mind you), "you are gorgeous NOW".

    After nagging me every time we talked in those months, when we reached the 1-month-to-go mark, we talked on the phone and she told me that the ONLY thing I needed was to lose 3 kilos and I was good to go. And I exploded. Apparently, my intent of reasoning (while sobbing in anger) that she had been telling me that I wasn't going to be pretty on my wedding day… well, she thought that I was nervous, not that I was right >_< so she changed the weight issue with "are you calmer, honey?"

    (FYI, I also lost weight the week before the wedding and my skirt was too loose. My mom was thrilled).

    Now I'm pregnant. I told her my weight pre pregnancy and her first reaction was asking me to put on 12 pounds max. Calmly, I told her that I would put on whatever I needed to because I was making a person. She still asks me to not get too fat from time to time.

    So, a LOT of patience and love for you. It's their issue and you don't have to put up with it. Don't let them get you down, you are your own beautiful independent adult person, and you know what to do to be happy. And in the middle of a stressful time juggling with guests and vendors, if what makes you happy is ice cream, GO FOR IT. Please.

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  34. This article has given me a lot to think about. I'm plus-size and have a number of health issues that mean its difficult to loose weight as I don't have the energy a lot of the time to exercise which is feeding into the guilt.

    I have been using my wedding (in 3 years time) as a motivation to get to a healthy weight long before I need to go dress shopping. I've already decided I'm having my dress made but I did want to go and do the trying on dresses thing to see what suits me first as I never got that opportunity for my first wedding, I was forced into wearing a beige blazer, blouse and skirt by my Mother as I was 3 months pregnant with my now 20 year old and was made to feel like I didn't deserve the wedding dress of my dreams

    My darling beautiful daughter who is one of my bridesmaid, is also of a similar build and has the same underlying health issues as me and I've caught myself recently making the same negative comments to her that my Mother and Grandmother said to me when I was her age.

    I need to find a more body positive way of talking to her about both of us getting healthy for the sake of being healthy.

    I thought I'd got to the point where I had accepted that my gorgeous naturally skinny fiancé loves me for me but I suspect that deep down I still feel that he's only saying it because he loves who I am rather than what I look like and I need to get past that as I wouldn't want to change him in any way so why should the reverse be true?

    The reasoning behind that is probably months and months of counselling but fundamentally lies in my relationship with my Mother where I was always made to feel that I never was quite good enough for her expectations and therefore don't deserve to feel good about myself. It was a tempestuous relationship to say the least, although I loved her dearly and now she's not here and neither is my beloved Nan, I'm guilting myself into meeting their expectations for once.

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    • The first step toward changing is admitting. It's hard to break away from the habits we were taught as children, but I'm glad you recognize and want to change how you speak to your daughter about your bodies. Keep up the positive thinking!

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  35. I recently went through this same issue with my own mother. She's been passive-aggresively bugging me about it for a couple years (along with getting married and having kids—you know, cause I'm not getting any younger -_-) but once that ring went on my finger it was like she finally had free range to say I needed to lose weight every time she saw me.

    Now, I'm one of those people who believes in loving yourself and your body no matter what. And in all honesty, I've watched my mom go from diet to diet my entire life, and while she might lose 10-15 pounds here or there, she's pretty much always been the same shape/size. I am now also that size/shape. My aunt is, my cousin is. It's just what we're meant to look like. I've come to grips with that (this is not to say it doesn't hurt when my mom criticizes me).

    I, like the questioner, also did not want to spend the entire planning process being berated and criticized, so I took a stand early. It only took 2-3 times for it to sink in for her—so if your arguement doesn't work at first don't be discouraged, stand your ground.

    I simply explained that I accept my body the way it is, that my fiance loves me the way I am, and that there are a million other things for me to stress about for this wedding, I don't want my weight to be one of them. Also, I'm going to be wearing a corset on my wedding day, so I will look thinner no matter what ;)

    After I explained it a few times she started to realize #1) I wasn't going to change my mind and #2) that she hadn't liked when her mother had said/done such things to her (and she never wants to be her mother!)

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  36. I am not skinny. I am not obese. I'm the in between that nothing fits. Cute tank tops from Hot Topic or dresses from Torrid. They don't make a store for me…shopping has always been a struggle. Now that I'm engaged why is there so much pressure? This is what I look like…why do I HAVE to fit into this image? I've struggled all my life with weight and today I'm the heaviest I've been, and also the most loved by my fiance. I'm not giving in…He loves me like this so I too need to love me like this too. And there's nothing more I love than to see women on this site not fitting in the standard and marching to their own beautiful, wonderful beat.

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