Wedding weight loss: fighting pressure to lose weight for your wedding

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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 said in the Code of Conduct of the old Offbeat Bride Tribe forum:

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 with wedding weight loss pressure

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.

This glorious Sun Goddess dress is by KMKDesigns

The longer discussion about wedding weight loss

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.

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?

Comments on Wedding weight loss: fighting pressure to lose weight for your wedding

  1. As a plus sized bride myself I have found a real mix of positive and negative from vendors. I think the bridalwear shops are the worst.

    My advice to other brides is to find a dressmaker you are comfortable with, find a selection of dresses you like on the internet and show them to her, then ask her to make a dress that will flatter your figure. Most dress makers know what to do to hide all those bits that you want to and make you look fabulous. As you are having it tailored it can be altered along the way depending on how your size changes (if at all). This way you end up with a one of a kind dress for a fraction of what you could have paid for a designer one. On the day it will fit like it was made for you (because it was!) and you will feel fabulous!!!

  2. I noticed the facebook ads change to weight loss pretty much straight away after we got engaged. The OBB community was so refreshing compared to other forums where the second most active section was nearly always about losing weight for the big day.

    As a very plus size lady of ~250lbs at the time of getting down to serious wedding planning I made a conscious decision not to put myself under any pressure to lose weight before the big day.

    My mum did mention it to me but I made it very clear that I had enough to do with a wedding to plan without adding to the stress, especially as I was perfectly happy with my weight.

    Trying on dresses was a different issue, I think I only tried on one dress in my size, everything else was way too small and I was putting it on and holding up the front to “get an idea of the shape”

    In the end I went with a custom made dress (which I ordered too big as I was convinced I’d gain weight before the wedding) which was perfect for me.

    I’m currently losing weight and one thing I have to say to everyone that is asking how I’m doing it is that it was my decision there was no influence from my family or friends. Also that I’m doing this for me, my health, not for a specific dress or a photo that I may look at in years to come with only the memory of harsh dieting instead of how happy we were on the day.

  3. Joy Nash of FatRantBlog had the best idea about this. If you have a family member who simply can’t let it go, say “I’m not really planning on losing any weight, but if you’re so worried about my health, you can pay for my gym membership.” Or groceries, or medication, or soap or whatever it is you need to be happier and healthier. It satisfies their need to help. If they really want to help, that should be enough.

    A few years ago, I had to have a moment with my mother. I had to say “Mom. I’m motivated by encouragement. That’s what gets me going. Being negative about my body doesn’t work. It makes me give up. I’m not even trying! I don’t want to try!”

    Just getting it out there was a BIG moment for both of us and it’s changed how we talk to each other about our bodies. It’s a conversation everyone can have! I encourage you to have this conversation because you’re still going to have your body after the wedding.

  4. I think the key here is not to wait until he proposes if she’s the type of mother to say hurtful things… I remember getting pressured to lose weight from as young as 9 (9!! Who does that?!?) and through my adult life too. After many, many one liners in conversations and arguments how it was not appropriate and I wished she would never bring it up again, she went behind my back and asked one of my best friends (through fb no less) to tell me to lose weight because no way would my now-Hubby stick around if I didn’t-but not to say that my mum said these things…kinda an impossible situation for my friend!!

    Naturally, I was furious but instead of blowing up at her, I wrote a VERY strongly worded but well-thought-out letter about how it made me feel (that she didn’t love me, couldn’t accept me, made me angry and sad which made me want to gorge on chocolate & the only time she didn’t pressure me was when I was a kilo or 2 away from anorexia and I never wanted to go back there) in comparison to how I normally feel (yeah… I’d like to be thinner. But I like food too much and I’d rather be healthy, happy and “fat” in her eyes than thin and miserable).

    I then ignored all calls for a few weeks while I read and re-read my letter. Many things were a lot harsher than they really needed to be but I ended up sending it anyway because none of my more gentle words had worked… And because weeks later, everything in the letter still rang true.

    To this day, she has never acknowledged that she received the letter, or that she read it-but all comments stopped (apart from a very occasional one which is probably out of habit and those get silenced with a “look”) and that was all I needed/wanted. It was a very long process though so if you have a turbulent relationship with your mum, I’d start trying to win that battle well before he proposes!

    • I kind of love how parents think they know about all relationships, especially modern ones. I distinctly remember my mother asking me, “you don’t fart in front of your boyfriend, DO YOU?” Why, yes, actually, we’re pretty comfortable with each other and it’s something everyone does, and that’s the way our relationship rolls. She was pretty horrified and implied strongly that men don’t like that sort of thing and that if I wanted to keep him around I should basically try to hide things like that. Again, because “men don’t like women doing stuff like that!” But… it’s my relationship, I know him better than you, mom. What the heck?

      Ah well, I’m fortunately more amused by these things than annoyed, because it just shows how much pre-marriage relationships have evolved in the past 30 years. 🙂

      • ….someone once told me that one should wait up until their husband rolls in, no matter what the time he meanders home, in full dress and makeup. I was speechless lol…. Maybe it’s a different generation thing?

        I dunno, you ladies are nicer than me. With toxic people like that, I say it three times nice, and after that you can fuck right off about it – if I acknowledge your comments at all. I work hard enough to keep my own brain from saying ugly things to the mirror. Yes, I know I’m not quite the ‘right’ BMI, no, I’m not starting my healthy lifestyle until after the wedding (and fondant making/ chocolate molding/ rice krispie treat deliciousness being created,) and yes, I’m going to be all fluffy and busty and rock my corset at our wedding. Cuz that’s the way he loves me 😀

  5. I got a lot of criticism from family for most of my wedding plans and I was grateful to Offbeat Bride for giving me the courage to say “because it’s OUR day, it’s OUR party, and it’s what WE want.”

    The best advice I can give has a short story attached: I didn’t do anything unique with my hair and I did my makeup the way I would for any dress up date I had with my husband. He later told me that he was kind of worried he’d see me walk down the aisle and not have it be me, and he was very pleased to see the face he fell in love with, the face he proposed to, and the face he wants to have fancy dates with for the rest of his life looking back at him on our wedding day. You are not entering into a marriage expecting a different person and on your wedding day, your man will look at you with the love that has been building your entire experience together and excited anticipation of what your future experiences will hold. That’s all that matters, because this is about the two of you deciding to define your relationship in a more permanent way.

    I would lay down the law with your mom. My weight is not an issue to me or the man who wants to spend the rest of his life with me. I have enough to deal with in the planning process, so if you want to turn non-issues into issues, I’m going to have to remove you from helping me plan.

  6. This has been an ongoing issue between my mom and I. I’ve avoided getting to the nitty gritty of my own body image with her… because when it comes down to it… It’s honestly an issue about her own body image.

    My mom is 5’5″ and well within her BMI ( I have a problem with BMI because its only about weight and height and ignores too many important factors… like that muscle weighs more than fat… bone density… gender… age… etc…) But my mom, regardless of how thin she has been, considers herself “fat”… so, by comparison… I’m really huge at 5’9” and curvy as fuck.

    I’m honestly not sure if my mom is seeing weight in regards to health or if its only “how clothes fit” and how one looks. I told her I’m losing weight for my health. I am only looking for more energy and the ability to run after my kids without collapsing in a big winded pile of goo. I’m a size 16, and honestly I’m fine with it. I can rock a retro wiggle dress like nobodies business. But, inevitably, the conversation always leads to size… and how I’m not going to look like Mae West because she was smaller than I am…

    I do admit I have my own body issues… every woman does. I’m learning to love them though… may take a while… but I’m getting there.

    I may need to flood my moms inbox with beautiful plus size girls… LOL

    • PS. One thing that helped me realize I’m not sasquatch… a pin up photoshoot. The best, most wonderful thing I’ve ever done. Biggest confidence booster ever.

      Come to think of it… maybe I should show my mom those pics… well… the not naked ones anyway.

        • I would love to do a boudoir shoot, partly for the purpose of loving my body and also because showing off my body turns my man on. Of course, I would only give the photos to him only and keep some for myself. But when I explained this idea to my mom, she declared that boudoir pics are “inappropriate” and “un-Christian.” I’m still trying to figure out how to deal with those kind of comments. In the meantime, I may end up a) paying for a boudoir session myself or b) create my own boudoir pics.

  7. The best way I avoided body image issues for my wedding was that I had my dress custom made! The clothes that you spend sooo much to put on your body to tell the story of who you are at your essence mean so much! My husband and I wanted our wedding to be about our ethics and thus our cloth to be organic, so I had my dress made to fit me not the other way around! This way everything was “me” and bonus for not feeling bad for not “fitting” into another image from another person. My designer had my measurements so the dress wasn’t too long, the bust wasn’t too big and the hips weren’t too damn small! It was perfect! Also, stay on cool sites like this and don’t watch tv or go near “commercial” bridal mags!!!

      • That’s what I’m doing! Bonus; it fits almost perfectly at the first fitting, since it’s made to your body. That’s a confidence booster AND a time/money-saver.

      • Not just plus size brides should do this. It is a great way to get exactly what you want, made to fit you. I found the whole experience made me more excited about how I would look on the day

        • Here here! You spend the rest of your life buying clothes that are meant to fit other people from stores – getting your wedding dress custom designed makes it THAT much more special!

      • As a not-quite-there woman in a serious LTR, I’m loving this idea too… I just don’t know where or how I would start the process of finding a seamstress who would custom make a dress for me in the Midwest US. The one simple google search I did for this came up with almost nothing, except for 1 or 2 custom designers who charge thousands as baseline price! Any ideas on the nitty-gritty of having something custom made for someone getting ready to be in this boat?

      • I have been married before, and back then I was a teeny tiny little thing (and miserable I now realise, for reasons other than my weight). I still had my dress custom made because my natural style is very simple and it was so hard to find a simply cut dress to my taste. I totally recommend custom made for brides of all shapes and sizes, especially for brides who have simple, classic tastes as I have found it is much less expensive than off the rack dresses.

        This time, I am larger and happier and I am still going for a custom made dress, which is even simpler than my last wedding dress. I have not had any pressure from my family to lose weight. They have seen me depressed and miserable, and they see me now happy. Thankfully, weight is irrelevant to them.

        It does amuse me that, ever since we got engaged, when aquaintances find out that I avoid wheat and dairy (its a seasonal thing, to help me deal with sever allergies), they relate it directly to weight loss! I tell them its the allergic conjunctivitis I am trying to lose, not my curves 😛

    • I’m wearing a custom-made dress too, and I’m a size 8! I simply don’t care for a lot of the styles that are featured in mainstream bridal magazines, and I have my own visions of a dress anyway. Thank goodness for Etsy dressmakers. 🙂

  8. I’m so thankful that OBB doesnt allow dieting discussion on their site for this very reason. Being recently engaged, and fresh from my first bridal boutique experience, I understand what she’s going through. Its even harder when it comes from a family member.

    I’m considered a plus size girl, especially in the bridal world it seems. I felt completely ashamed and mortified when I stepped into my first dress at a small boutique and they broke out the CLAMPS (do they really need industrial size clamps you would see in an auto shop?). Not one single dress actually fit me and the way the try to squeez you in and clamp the dress down is just awful.

    However, after trying the typical bridal shops, we went to a department store. I think it was Nordstroms. I found a very pretty (very offbeat) dress that I fell in love with, and guess what, the size they put me in was actually 2 sizes smaller than what I normally wear, and it FIT!

    So I guess the lesson I learned was to skip the high pressure environment all together, you’ll probably save money as well as your confidence.

    • I can totally see how you felt like the clamps were complete overkill…if I can explain?

      Bridal shops use clamps to show prospective buyers how their dresses will fit after proper tailoring. They use strong clamps in order to hold many layers, and sometimes many pounds of fabric in place. They use these on every customer, on every dress (I went to Vera Wang’s flagship store in Beverly Hills–giant orange handled clamps there, too!).

      A good salesperson should be gentle and explain what they’re doing, instead of making you feel like it’s YOUR FAULT that the dress doesn’t fit–of course it doesn’t–it’s not tailored for you!

      I hope that helps explain–and I’m so glad you found a dress that fits you and makes you feel beautiful!

    • Trust me (and the other commenter here), the clamps are not just for “plus-sized” potential buyers. I am a pretty petite woman, and was probably a size 6 when I went bridal dress shopping (which is the smallest I have ever been, despite being quite short), and I think I tried on maybe 2 dresses that didn’t require clamps, and even they were tight. I’m pretty sure especially the higher-end shops get the dresses straight off the models they were modeled on, and as the other commenter said use the clamps to show you what it will look like once it’s fitted to you.

  9. 1) I made my dress and got to have exactly what I wanted – custom clothing to make you feel your best = major winning at any size.

    I wanted to parse your question a bit though:

    “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?”

    I think that Ariel gave some great advice about remembering a misguided but theoretically common ground.

    However, I just want to also say: Do what is best for YOU. If she continues, hurting you, and isn’t caring that it’s pissing YOU off and brushing off YOUR comments in return, then you need to decide on a line in the sand for yourself and take care of yourself. On some level only you know where that line is, but if you recognize that line, you’ll be able to stand on it without having to do a total Gandalf when it’s finally triggered.

    2) I like to hope for everyone that a wedding day is an amazing day in an amazing life together. You’re beautiful today. You’re beautiful on every Tuesday in October of 2017. You are going to be beautiful on your wedding day, because you’re going to oooooooze awesome “OMFG we’re MARRIED!” vibes and those are gorgeous, even when they’re full of ugly cries and trashed dresses, and rain, sleet, snow, hail, or firestorm. So turn an oldie on it’s head. Just smile knowingly and say, “oh, Mom, you’ll seeeeeeee!”

    • Oh, I love this idea of saying “you’ll seeeeeee!” to your mom! I can honestly see it working, too. My mom COULD NOT fathom how my design for my dress was going to be at all flattering, and kept trying to convince me to change it or just buy one, and I had some serious doubts about it for a long time because of that. Finally (after a good long talk with my future-husband when I was crying over my uncertainty), I informed my mom that I knew what I was doing, it was going to be gorgeous, and she would see and agree. And guess what? She LOVED my dress.

  10. In my opinion, the best answer to this is to remind her that people like to say “You’ll never find a man if you don’t lose a good XX pounds” and if you’re engaged, plus sized, and looking for a wedding dress, this is clearly bullsh*t.

    • “‘You’ll never find a man if you don’t lose a good XX pounds’ and if you’re engaged, plus sized, and looking for a wedding dress, this is clearly bullsh*t.” New philosophy.

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