How to deal with pressure to lose weight for your wedding

By on Aug. 27th

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?