07 May 2009

this makes me ... decidedly less happy

Forgive me if I lapse into irrationality here (wait, I'm a bride - that's expected of me) or if I swear (which my aunt has said doesn't upset her) ... but what. the. hell. is up with all the Dieting Brides out there? Did I miss the memo that said I won't be eligible for a marriage license until I drop a dress size? Was there an episode of Oprah where "Everybody Gets A Complex!" Or is something far more sinister going on?

First, some context: I stay away from most cultural references to "what I'm supposed to weigh" on purpose. I skip Celebrity Diet Plan articles because those are written by publicists who don't give a damn what anyone actually eats, as long as their client's face gets magazine space. I change the radio station when some deep-voiced Announcer Guy asks me, "Ladies, have you ever said 'I feel fat today?'" because that garbage drives me berserk. I've never been on the Atkins/Grapefruit/Stand On Your Head diet, and I firmly believe that the Master Cleanse is a dangerous crash diet wrapped in a more-organic-than-thou disguise. Why? Because I was anorexic for 17 years.

It still feels a little strange talking about this, but for all those years everything I felt about my body was tangled up with feelings that I was the only freaking person who felt that way, which made me extra-ashamed. So now I talk about it.

The thing that's pissing me off today is how many brides out there, whose blogs I truly enjoy, occasionally go on at length about their goal to be a dress size "x" by their wedding day. I mean, seriously -- what causes this? Why are spunky, feisty, unconventional, creative-as-hell women sucked into the "it has to look like a magazine" vortex over this one particular issue? It makes me want to scream, "You're marrying your same-sex partner at a Day Of The Dead-themed hoe-down, officiated by your very best Wiccan friend ... and you're not eating bread after 6pm for the last month before the big day?!?" This is insanity, ladies.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm all about making a decision to be healthier in your general life. Cutting out fast food and making exercise more of a priority are wonderful things ... IF YOU'RE GOING TO CONTINUE THOSE PRACTICES AFTER THE BIG PARTY. Go for it, make a lifestyle change with my-blessing-that-I-know-you-never-asked-for. But if, after the pictures are taken, you're going to be like a female body-builder & grab a half-eaten donut from a very-surprised stagehand (which happens, by the way) ... then please ask yourself WHY you're doing this. Your fiance loved you enough to ask you to marry him, without an asterisk about a size-6 dress being involved ... and we know how visually-stimulated guys are. So tell me: what's your real motivation?

Women have so many mixed-up feelings about their relationship with food. I can remember being in a restaurant with my family when I was about 6, and after watching everyone order saying to my dad, "I'm glad I'm a kid because I can still have a burger, and grown-up women can only have salads." The messages start when we're young, and we don't even know that's what they are. But if you're trying to change your body just so you'll look "perfect" in the wedding pics, then don't. Because there isn't any such thing. I've seen girls who grace magazine covers in bikinis turn down a glass of water at a photo shoot, to avoid "bloating." I've watched friends starve themselves for 3 days before a big job, in order to look "great." I used to do all of that crap, and worse, myself.

I don't claim for a second that any of this is easy. It's not. It took a lot of years, and a lot of really hard lessons, for me to drag myself out of the rabbit hole. But I do say that your lovely location, your gorgeous dress, and the gaze of the person you love will do much more to make your pictures look amazing than one dress size smaller ever could.

Besides ... doesn't being hungry make you grouchy? I can't imagine trying to plan my damned shindig on a fuse that's even one micron shorter than it already is. (Think about it: how crabby do you get when you don't get lunch until 4pm? Multiply that times 17 years, and you'll know how amazed I am that anybody, from my mother to my oldest friend to my fiance, still talks to me.)


elizabeth said...

This is such an *awesome* post! Raw and honest and -oh so timely- as I was just thinking, hey if that other bride dropped a dress size, why can't I? But I don't need unnecessary complications in my life, and I sure as hell don't need to be any more moody or grouchy as I tackle the two biggest projects of my life. Thanks for speaking up! I wish us all the courage to be honest about our struggles and successes!

("bressi": a kind of pasta made of broccoli)

Modelmental said...

Great post un-bride! I must say I skip over every bridal blogger's dieting posts. I have a friend who starved and pilled herself into a teeny tiny little wedding dress, only to be seriously ill (mentally and physically) now, a year after the wedding. And obviously bigger than she ever was before. It's a terrible cycle!

Aubergine said...

In defence of SOME of the dieting brides; I think it is usually the case that people want to be healthier and to include more exercise in their lives. Having a goal in mind, and a deadline, can help procrastinators like myself!

My goal is actually to be able to do 100 press-ups like I could do a couple of years ago rather than drop two dress sizes!

Having said that, I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment of your post. I've lost count of the number of people who have commented on what I should or shouldn't be eating to be able to 'fit into' a dress. So as well as encouraging me to starve myself I can only assume that these people believe I'm too stupid to select a size that fits?

un-bride said...

@Aubergine I totally commend and support anyone who's making a positive change to improve their overall health. Maybe I'm just a little too aware of the potential for harm? Also, I for one am positive that you're smart enough to order correctly!

@Modelmental Yikes. How awful for her. My heart goes out.

Indie B said...

I agree, great post! I am one of those brides that is trying to change my lifestyle to be healthier (and bonus points for looking more toned in my dress!) That said, I am totally against dieting, as I think for the most part, people don't do it right! If you deprive yourself, at some point your body is going to lash back at you and you will end up fatter than ever with a screwed-up metabolism to boot. However, I'm a huge believer in exercise, so long as it's not taken to extremes.

Christmas said...

I firmly believe a starving bride is no bueno! However, I think starving yourself when you're the MOH in a wedding where the bride happens to be a frickin 5'9" swimsuit model is perfectly acceptable. ;-)

Julia said...

amen to that

Mr.Un-Bride said...

I knew things were going to work out between us when we went to thai food, and after finishing all of yours, you asked if I was going to finish mine, and I told you (I had about half of it left) that you could certainly have some, and you finished all of that, too. I thought, "Thank God, she's going to be okay!"

Of course, I have a pre-halloween work out regime that I've implemented, combined with a moderate change in eating habits (smaller portions, more meals, healthier food), but that's because my david beckham costume will be oh so much better if I can pull off the Calvin-Klein David Beckham instead of the "Hung-over after a fight with the wife" David Beckham. Which still wouldn't suck. Why don't people understand that the single best way to manage your weight in the entire world is the same advice that everyone's given them their whole life:

Eat right and exercise.

("latte" - seriously - this is a hoidy-toidy coffee drink that snobs order so that they can get less coffee and more insubstantial foam, thereby wasting money and showing off their knowledge of all things with foreign names.)

Marie said...

This is an amazing post and I also agree with you about not going crazy about wedding dieting. Hope all's going well for you in all your plans!