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. I really loved this post. I’ve fought tooth and nail over my weight growing up and have embraced the fact I’m a plus size girl who’s a down-to-heart foodie. When I first started dress shopping… I couldn’t get out of my head when my grandmother would complain about my weight when I was little. She would get two sizes bigger in clothes when I was a preteen and say with a snobbish tone,”Well, you’ll GROW into them anyway, at the rate you’re going.” Its a wonder I didn’t become anorexic or bulimic. Even my mother in law, obsessed with losing weight for any occasion made comments on what diet I was thinking about choosing before the big day.

    Wrestling with those thoughts, and trying to look for a dress that looked good on me..just made me feel worse about the whole thing. I actually had put down money on a dress that swallowed me and felt retired to my fate as a “fat” bride that can’t look good in anything. Finally my now husband stepped in and put the spiral to a halt. He said,”This day is about YOU, stop going with what everyone else says. I’m marrying you because you have your own voice, now SPEAK UP.”

    I finally saddled up and started speaking up. I found a new dress that was BEAUTIFUL, made out of crinkle chiffon and a halter top with an empire waist.Size 20, and I looked like a boss in that thing. I went happily barefoot down a hardwood church isle on June 9th this year with it on. No one else said anything about my weight. Even strangers where we took pictures came up and asked me where I got my dress cause it was amazing. I was on cloud nine all day, and you bet i stuffed my face with food at the reception. How can I not? Foodies need love too! I am so happy someone posted this. Weddings are always so stressful enough without throwing body image into the mix. I say screw the others, be YOU cause its your day..and YOUR life.

  2. When I got my dress made at Dark Garden, i remember Autumn saying to me, “You can do anything you want, but please for the love of god, DO NOT LOSE ANY WEIGHT!”

    I understand, of course, that this was because taking in my elaborate dress would be a bigger bitch than letting it out, but it was the first time in my entire life I had ever heard the sentiment. I’m not dainty, I’m curvy and athletic and struggle with my weight everyday, so I like remembering that moment.

  3. Since meeting my mate this has been an issue for me because I was terrified of shopping with my mother. Shopping with her, she holds no punches. When you come out of the dressing room and ask “how does this look?” she give a straight answer and is critical of every flaw you may have. That can be a good thing. But when your a teen trying to find fashionable clothes and nothing seems to live up to your mom’s standards you start to feel like crap.
    One day a few years ago my mother and I got talking about wedding dresses. To make a long story short she basically told me that I need to wear one of those dresses you find in the “modest” section of some designers lines (Allure Bridal has a section if your curious), because my arms were too big to wear a strapless or strappy gown. Personally I think those modest dresses are not my taste and from then on I was so scared of the day that I would have to go dress shopping. Should I cut her out of the whole thing and go by myself or with a less critical friend? Should I take her with and just grin and bare it as best I can? What to do–?
    Luckily a few months ago I spoke to my mother about dress shopping and she seemed to have had a change of heart. She told me she didn’t care what I wore so long as I was happy with it. What a relief!
    But in any event my best advice would be this: think about your personality and ask yourself how you want to handle it. Maybe a good thing to do is to say something like this:
    “Mom, I know you want me to lose weight. I want to lose weight too. Maybe I will soon. But my wedding date is set for x/y/z and that just isn’t enough time for me to get everything I need to done, plus keep up my normal life of work/ school/ what have you and then concentrate on losing weight, too. Maybe losing weight is next but its not going to happen in the next X months. So please, can we shelve the whole weight loss issue, at least till after the wedding? I love you and this is supposed to a happy time and a time for us to enjoy being mother and daughter.”
    Maybe if you were feeling up to it, if you are really ready to lose the weight you can make a deal with her that when you come back from your honeymoon you will start a healthy eating and exercise plan– together, as a mom and daughter team.
    Just a thought. Hope that helps.

    • I wouldn’t let my mother come with me until the dress was finished. That way, she couldn’t make any horrid comments as it was all already completed.

      • I find that my mom needs to feel like she had a say in order to be supportive, so she came along. I think she was just so happy that I was wearing a white gown from a real bridal shop that she wasn’t going to insult my body. Interestingly, when we chose the first photographer we met and put the downpayment, my mom started getting worried it was the wrong decision, probably because she wasn’t involved in making it. I give her the illusion of input and she gives me peace. I guess this just depends on how your mom is.

  4. It’s always so weird to me how people just automatically assume that everyone is going to try to completely change what they look like now that they’re getting married. A while back at work I came in with a Costco muffin and one of my coworkers (who I don’t really even know all that well) looked at it and said, “Don’t you have a wedding dress to fit into?”

    After staring at her for a while in shock, I just said, “My dress fits just fine, thanks,” and took a HUGE bite out of my muffin. Yummy yum yum.

    Responding in a way that casually points out that someone is being rude tends to shut the conversation down.

    “Are you going on a diet before the wedding?”
    “Nope, why do you ask?”

    Generally people just get all awkward and kind of slink away. 😉

    • I find it very odd that everyone automatically assumes you will try to change *everything* for your wedding.

      My hair hasn’t been past chin length since I was allowed to choose my haircut. I have worn glasses since 3rd grade.
      And yet, I got asked if I was getting contacts and growing my hair out, as well as losing weight.

      Why do so many people think you need to look like not-you on your wedding day?

      • Very true!!! My usual haircut is a #3 clippers short pixie, but I wanted to wear a hat with long hair… *shrug* so I’m growing it out. I’m growing it as an accessory, not for “the perfect look.” It amazes me the reaction I get to my reasoning about it. I guess I didn’t realize how much people assume you must change who you for a wedding.

  5. I am a plus sized bride who decided NOT to get her dress custom-made. I hit up David’s Bridal first, and had them throw EVERY type of dress at me. I wanted to see what I looked like in a fancy dress. I was SHOCKED at how good I looked in the majority of dresses. I tried on bubble hems, princess cuts, sparkles, sequins, lace, buttons all up the back, etc. There were however, some SERIOUS body/dress issues with certain styles. I just looked MASSIVE in certain dresses. Even ones I thought I should look okay in. It’s all about the proportion of your body to the proportions of the dress. I know trying on dresses can make you feel like less (more….) but in order to see that it really isn’t you, it’s the dress ON you that’s the issue, you HAVE to be willing to try on a few dresses. Go to a shop that carries your size (or a little bigger, as they can make it look smaller, but not be bigger) and try on a few that you know you won’t be buying, to see what YOU look like, not the dress. Afterall, your husband is marrying you- not the dress. However, a well fitted dress (maybe even tailored to you) can make you feel like a bajillion bucks. But that isn’t about fitting yourself to the dress, it’s about fitting the dress to YOU, like everything else in your wedding.

    • I totally agree. I specifically chose David’s Bridal because I knew they carried a ton of dresses in many sizes. I really didn’t feel like I was relegated to the “plus size” section (even though I did buy a plus size dress) and the sample actually fit! Or were, at least, within one size. It was so much better for my self esteem that way.

    • I must say, I’m rather jealous. I’ve been to 2 David’s so far, and they’ve had a total of 4 dress they could squeeze my size 24 bum into, all of them strapless A-lines. They didn’t even carry plus sized prom dress to try! It looks like I’ll have to have my dress blindly custom-made because I don’t know what else to do.

  6. Thank you all for the thoughtful and wonderful answers! I have been dying over what to do about my mother. I know the comments about losing weight for my wedding are a-comin’ and it frankly scares me a lot. But I think the first approach will be best.

    I have mostly dreaded the dress appointment. Where they shove you in a dress 5+ sizes too small and nobody can envision the dress on you properly because it doesn’t fit at all. I’m thinking about a dressmaker (also because I have such offbeat taste that I don’t like most wedding dresses :P) and that thought is making me feel so much better. Better to explain that I haven’t seen any dresses I like than fight over my weight!

    I’m also glad my question was answered because you never see weight struggles in the wedding profiles. Nobody says “The hardest part about planning was beating off comments about how I should lose weight before my wedding.” because that’s so sad! But I was sad that every other plus-sized bride I saw seemed to have a family who loved her and never made comments about her weight. I definitely do not have that family. Thank God I’m not alone!

  7. What an interesting and positive conversation–I love how Offbeat Brides talk to each other with such love and respect.

    I considered losing weight for my wedding, but weight loss is a project like any other–like planning a wedding, writing a book, organizing yourself for a tax audit, raising a kitten, or learning to drive. I wound up doing all those things this year, and they all took time, energy, and patience. In the end, weight loss was not important enough to me to be prioritized above any of that other stuff, and it slipped off the to-do list.

    Maybe sometime it’ll come back–I think weight loss would be good for me if I weren’t doing at the expense of other more important things. Really, if I could finish this book versus refashion my caloric intake to lose twenty pounds, I’d finish the darn book.

    That’s me, and my choice. Weight loss is intensely personal, and nobody gets to set your goals and priorities for you. If someone assailed me about losing weight for the wedding, I think a very good answer would be, “Considering all the fascinating stuff in my life right now, that’s just not a priority.”

  8. THIS so much THIS. Ever since I bought my wedding dress, if I ever eat anything slightly sugary in front of my boss, she says: “Oh, it’s OK if you eat that, after all, your dress has a corseted back if you gain weight.”

    Cheers hon. Why does she think it’s OK to comment on what I eat?

    • I would be soooo tempted to say “I guess it’s a shame your clothes aren’t corseted or I’d offer you a cookie too,” but I guess that wouldn’t be too professional 😉

  9. Thanks to weddingdress shopping I got a tiny glimpse of what plus sized lady have to go through.

    When I told the sales lady I don’t own a scale she didn’t believe me. I used to stress over being too skinny so I threw the stupid thing out and lived happily ever after.

    They write down your measurements and tell you not to lose or gain weight. (and told me that I lost 1 cm, but it wasn’t that bad. Damn right it isn’t!) It’s pretty though to be immune to those antics.

    People don’t have any business commenting on your body’s shape and size, unless it is to tell you how awesome you look!

    I really respect you curvy ladies for being strong and awesome. I realise you get a lot of cr*p, because some people think that they can just say things to you when you’re plus-sized. Beauty has nothing to do with pounds and kilo’s.

    • I ditched my scale, too! I’ve found that when I have one I weigh myself obsessively, just because it’s there. When it’s not there, I don’t think about it… I just go off of whether I feel good about myself or not. I highly recommend this to everyone.

  10. You guys are so much kinder than I would be. I cannot stand people implying that “I’m working out for my wedding right?” I’m a reasonably small size (6-8) and I still get this kind of nonsense thrown my way. Not to mention that I am completely fed up with going to bridesmaid’s shops where they insist I try on the dresses because they don’t have any samples that will fit my bridesmaids. I can understand why someone would only want to order off the internet, and not deal with the judgey store clerks ever again. A computer would never roll its eyes at me and remind me of how samples only come in sizes up to 10.

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