It’s a truth universally acknowledged that brides feel the pressure to look a certain way before their wedding.
With my own wedding looming, I’ve been feeling the pressure of being The Perfect Bride and I’ve suddenly become very self conscious of my own body. Not because I feel the need to lose a copious amount of weight. In fact, I don’t need to lose any weight at all.
I’m so thin that it regularly becomes a topic of conversation – much to my resentment. So why exactly am I so stressed?
Because my 24-inch waist is too skinny. My 30-inch bust is too small. And my 34-inch hips are apparently far too lean. Yes, all of this was suggested to me at a recent wedding dress fitting as the sales assistant joked that I must be on a carb-loading diet for my upcoming wedding – because surely I was planning to put weight ON for the occasion.
Let’s just take a moment to let that sink in.
As soon as the words left her mouth my heart began to beat – heavy, thick, tiresome beats. I laughed immediately, shrugged it off, minimised the importance of the situation and said something horribly and wholly stupid about making burgers for dinner.
Why couldn’t I just speak the words of pure unadulterated honesty?
How thin is too thin? How big is too big? Would you say that to a larger bride? What do you think and feel about your own body? When did it become fair to assume that a prospective bride is going to starve herself silly? Or eat herself sick?
I’m glad that I didn’t go down this line of questioning – I am. But I do wish I had said something along the lines of:
“Whatever someone’s size and shape, there is no excuse for this sort of behaviour or comment.”
As I left the store entirely bemused, I realised that I wasn’t The Perfect Bride that I (rather self-righteously) always assumed I would be. I was The Too Thin Bride. The Bride In Need of an All-Burger Diet.
Now, I know that as far as body image goes, thin women are privileged. But I’m not going to get into the politics of size because no one should feel as if their body isn’t good enough. Body shaming, fat or thin, is a tool of oppression - but that’s a completely separate article.
What I’m trying to say is, for lack of a better phrase, we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Brides are either too thin, or too fat - much like Goldilocks, we’re perpetually searching for the body that is ‘just right’.
But what on earth is that?
I would never begrudge the woman who wants to look her ‘best-self’ on her wedding day, nor would I resent the woman who thinks that a wedding is a legitimate reason to go Paleo and add a boot camp session (or four) to the weekly schedule. (Post continues after gallery.)
I’m simply asking, when did the concept of 'the bride' turn from lace-and-tulle, commitment and celebration to juice cleanses, Dukan diets and ‘I quit sugar’ ballads?
When did the idea of a bride walking down the aisle without having dieted, starved or adhered to a strict fitness regime become something suitable for a science fiction film?
Despite appearances, the wedding industry is anything but stupid. Women everywhere are being force-fed the mantra that we should be thinner (but not too thin), younger (but not too young) and prettier (but not too pretty).
It’s repeated over and over and over, it’s everywhere we look.
Buy this juice detox… sign up for this macrobiotic diet package… snag a place in this exclusive bridal bootcamp. It’s a lucrative business, making women feel insecure. And insecurity is calorie-free.
The fact of the matter is, no matter what diet we choose or fitness regime we covet, we’re never going to be that woman, that model, on the cover of Brides Magazine.
Our hair won’t be as voluminous or as glossy, our teeth won’t be as translucently white and our bodies won’t be as perfectly perfect – because it’s all a fantasy.
And it’s a fantasy I won’t be buying into.
Would you consider a pre-wedding diet?