Fat Wedding 6: “Bluff and Buff Your Way to a Better Bridal Body”

Here’s part 6 in the Fat Wedding series, an exposé of the stresses and pressures on a bride to “look her best” (read: be skinny/ier) for her “big day.”

You & Your Wedding – Mind & Body

The introduction to the “mind & body” articles is “Get body and beauty confident with our special section.”

Well hey, that’s great! I’m already body and beauty confident. I think I look great, I have wonderful hair I can’t wait to get styled, and great skin I can’t wait to beautify. However, I could always use more confidence, right? There may be some great tips in these articles on how to, say, get sleep the night before to improve wellness (body), make sure I eat energy-rich healthy foods to keep myself going through the “big day,” (body), how to destress the night before (mind), and how to keep my cool in front of so many people (mind), right?

Scanning…scanning…oh. Hmm. Well, there are a few of these articles. Wedding Hair Style Inspiration looks cool. I was thinking of going kinda nature-y with my ‘do – maybe flowers, or laurels, something like that. DIY Facials looks kind of neat. I probably can’t afford to get a facial, so some DIY tips are welcome. Fragrance Advice from Roja Dove might be an interesting read.

However, surprise surprise, what subject comprises the greatest majority of articles? Weight-loss. There are even articles on cosmetic surgery (and cosmetic dentistry).

Of the 38 articles listed on the page: 47% (18) are about losing weight or getting “in shape.”

Heh. I guess we know what pre-wedding “beauty & mind” is REALLY all about.

Bridal Boot-camp

medicinenet.com – How to lose weight before the big day – and avoid the ‘heavier ever after’

Fleming recommends starting a bridal “boot camp” at least six months before the wedding that includes a balance of cardiovascular and strength training for about an hour a day, three to four days per week. Procrastinating brides and grooms who have less than six months to work with should plan on spending more time in the gym.

“Boot camp” — thank you, thank you, thank you for finally just saying it! “Boot camp” – a time of personal suffering that will, on the other end, pop out a ‘better you.’ It’s understood that it will be torture, but hey, it’s worth it to have a thin(ner) bride in the pictures, and to finally wear that dress that shows off your shoulder bones, right?

Once future brides and grooms set their minds to a weight-loss and fitness plan, Fleming says, they are usually successful. Many pick up healthy habits that last a lifetime.

Oh hey, does that mean that:

1. These women have never dieted or heard of calorie-counting before, so the idea of “eat less move more” was completely foreign to them prior to their pre-wedding “boot camp” ritualistic starvation regime,

2. or that “many” never gain the weight back? If so, they’re defying the overwhelming evidence that virtually all people who diet gain the weight back. We need to find these people, and make sure they’re included in the next diet study, because obviously they were missed before! The studies must not have been on anyone who’d convinced themselves they needed to lose weight for a wedding, I guess. Perhaps it’s the whole idea that this is a “wedding,” and you’re now becoming a “bride,” that somehow keeps the weight off, eh?

“It is amazing to me how focused and motivated they become during this frantic, crazy, panicked period in their lives, and it’s the one thing that they stick to,” says Fleming. “If you need to use the wedding day to get you started, that’s OK, but most people continue to work out, feel great, and look back at the pictures and say, ‘Wow, I can do this.’”

Once people start losing weight with the idea that it will improve their looks or self-esteem, it becomes obsessive? I’ve never heard of that phenomenon, before. :P

Once a couple says their “I dos,” they may be at risk for a honeymoon holdover effect. Research shows that newlyweds gain weight at a faster rate then their single peers.

Oh hey, do you think that might have anything to do with the fact that they, yanno, crash dieted in the months preceding their wedding? Naw! It’s just some weird, coincidental magickry that makes you gain weight faster when you slip that wedding ring on your finger.

“Married people are heavier than people who have never been married,” says researcher Jeffery Sobal, PhD, associate professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University. “They are also somewhat heavier than people who have been previously married, divorced, separated, and widowed.

“Recently married people eat about half or more of their meals together,” he says. “So marriage really is a huge influence on what you eat, its caloric value, nutrient composition, and all of those things.”

What seems to happen, Sobal says, is that newlyweds eat more regularly, and more formally, than they did in their single days.

Gasp! Eating more—hush—regularly! You mean, getting married makes you abandon your single-life, low self-esteem semi-starvation regime you succumbed to because you believed you’d never deserve love unless you strove towards some impossible, airbrushed ideal?

Sobal says his research has shown that when you control for other variables, like age and having children, the “marriage effect” seems to go away to some extent in women while it persists in men.

“It suggests that there is something about being married that makes men slightly, but not hugely, heavier,” says Sobal. He says more long-term studies will be needed to determine the exact nature of this marriage effect on weight.

I dunno, do you think it has anything to do with the fear of being labeled a “heavier ever after” wife? Or having your character and person constantly judged by your fat, because you’re a woman? Or having hate songs written about killing fat wives by popular bands for the crime of getting heavy while married?

Ugh, I’m done with the crap article. This pre-wedding “get in shape for your big day” bullshit is just a cultural ritualization to put the woman/bride in her ‘place,’ in that she has to ‘earn’ her big day by adhering, perhaps even for the first time in her life, to what this society currently deems is the woman’s highest value — her appearance being ‘acceptable’, i.e., thin enough.

The proof, besides the humble digging I do, when the fancy strikes? Check out this study, as reported on by the New York Times.

More than 70 percent of brides-to-be want to lose weight before their wedding day, according to a new study from Cornell University. To reach the perfect wedding-day weight, more than one-third of them use extreme dieting tactics such as diet pills and fasting. And while most of us buy clothes that fit, about one in seven brides-to-be buys a bridal gown that is one or more dress sizes smaller than she normally wears.

Which has been shown, over and over, by not only the brides-to-be I’ve quoted, but in the expectations of “body/beauty/fitness” sections of bridal sites.

Dr. Neighbors found that 91 percent of the women were worried about their weight, reporting that they wanted to lose weight or were actively trying to prevent weight gain. By comparison, national data show that about 62 percent of similarly aged women have the same concerns.

Among the 70 percent of women who were trying to lose weight, the average desired loss was about 21 pounds, not counting three women in the group who were trying to lose more than 100 pounds each.

I think those three women are very significant. Funny that they weren’t counted. Maybe they shouldn’t count the women who wanted to lose only a few pounds each, as well, since there are ways to weight every average. I don’t think they’re abnormal, by any means – on the discussion boards and so forth I’ve perused, I’ve come across more than one woman who wanted to lose more than 100 lbs.

Nearly half the brides-to-be were willing to adopt extreme dieting strategies to reach their goal weight by their wedding day. Among extreme dieters, skipping meals and taking unprescribed diet pills and supplements were reported most frequently. About 10 percent of the women used liquid diets, while a fraction of the women started smoking, took laxatives or induced vomiting in order to lose weight.

Huh. Think they’ll gain the weight back after the wedding, or just gain an ED? Or both?

Since it is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, it’s important to note here that it’s very possible some ED’s have their root in this pre-wedding ritual.

This next paragraph, however, is extremely important: god bless the effing study authors. Nice example of highly educated biological scientists who can’t see the forest for the trees.

The prevalence of extreme dieting behavior among brides-to-be is important because rapid weight loss usually isn’t maintained. But the study authors note that because brides-to-be are highly motivated to lose weight, doctors should use an upcoming wedding as an opportunity to discuss more healthful weight loss and eating behaviors.

Yeah, capitalize on her fear, and her anxiety! Don’t let the ED start on its own, give it a little shove, too! Yeah, that’s exactly what I need when I go for my check-up in the fall. “Oh, lovely ring! You’re engaged?” “Yes, sir.” “Lovely. Then you’re going to be losing some weight, right?”

Ai yai yai.

But wait, there’s more:

At the time of the study, the women were still about six months or more away from their big day. But the average weight loss achieved was already about eight pounds, although the numbers varied widely.

“If these losses were maintained after marriage, they would be significant weight management achievements,’’ the authors noted. “Given the pressures of the wedding and beginning a new life as a couple, engaged women should be encouraged to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle rather than striving for a fleeting number on a scale or a temporary dress size.’’

DESPITE the fact that the authors themselves noted that 50% of the women used “extreme measures” like pills, fasting, liquid diets, and vomiting to attain their “significant weight achievements”?

Funny, I feel a little like vomiting myself, now.

But mostly I feel royally pissed off at this ignorance, in the FACE of such horrifying results. I guess when doctors praise us for losing weight without asking how we did it, they’re just following suit of the biological scientists who write the papers they read. Weight loss at any cost. Let’s use the wedding as an excuse to get those fatty brides thin! And let’s drive them into a panic in order to make sure they don’t gain any weight when they get married, oh no! Vomiting before the wedding? Let’s make vomiting a lifestyle choice, instead of just a ‘temporary solution.’ Indeed! Argh.

6 comments on “Fat Wedding 6: “Bluff and Buff Your Way to a Better Bridal Body”

  1. Sandy says:

    Well, I had my hair down for my wedding with a flower wreath thing on my head. I thin it looked nice (it was a very pagan oriented wedding in the park!).

    But, anyway,

    A cousin got married a year or so ago and his fiance/wife lost weight to fit into her dress. She gained it all back and then some. She wasn’t really fat to begin with…just a little chunky I guess. I didn’t understand why she wanted to lose 1in around her waist when you wouldn’t really be able to tell it anyway…

    My thought on the subject has always been…if he was that worried about your weight he wouldn’t have asked you to marry him if you are fat. You can wow someone just being in a beautiful dress and all done up without worrying about weight.

  2. lillian64 says:

    Easy. Buy a dress that fits.

  3. anniemcphee says:

    I have a pretty strong thing against the whole wedding madness – so while I’m digging your blog bigtime forgive me for not commenting too much on the bridal craziness. I got married for $8 in front of a judge and my mom ordered me a cake and a bouquet, I wore a black dress I’d bought for a date when I was 16, my baby daughter attended, and my grandpa, his girlfriend and my husband’s parents, brother and I split a couple bottles of cheap champagne at their house. Then we went back to my apartment. No stress, no fuss – we got a couple adorable pictures and wonderful memories, and 20 happy years (so far) together.

    When I saw what people were going through with weddings, I simply pronounced “Insanity!” and never looked again lol.

  4. BigLiberty says:

    Sandy – I like the sound of that floral wreath! I might have to do something like that, myself. I’d definitely prefer a more “natural” look, more down-to-earth. Wildflower bouquet, wildflower centerpieces, esp. since it’s mid-May so people are really enjoying new spring flowers. :)

    Lilian – trust me, nearly all the brides, bridal “advisors,” nutritionists, doctors (!!) I’ve had to read for this project need a good shoulder-shaking, and a “Hey, you! Yeah, you! The wedding day is supposed to be fun. It’s not supposed to be some Puritanical exercise in how much you “deserve” to be married. Buy a dress that fits, eat when you’re hungry, and you—and everyone else—will enjoy your “big day” that much more!” I seriously wonder if the “phenomenon” of the so-called “Bridezilla” has anything to do with how starved and strung-out these brides are. We should start a “Feed a Bride” campaign, or something. Really! Anyone game? ;)

    Annie – sweetie, no worries! Love your blog, too. I should have it on a feed on the sidebar, so it’s easier for me to keep up with. I’m one of these scatterbrains who just has way too much on her plate, and I inevitably neglect something. That reminds me, I have to write a thank-you note to my grandma for the afghan she expertly crocheted… :) About the wedding stuff, I completely understand. Like I said about, sometimes I feel like these over-obsessed brides and the bridal industry and cohorts need a good shoulder-shake, to bring them back to reality!

    I have a bigger wedding because I have four families *just on my side* who all want to come. My parents divorced when I was 4 and remarried right away, so I’ve grown up with four sets of grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, etc! Just the immediately interested family members *on my side* comes to about 65 people (!!!). Add in that family friends that are *like* family, and the groom’s family, and my immediate closest friends, and we have 100. However, we want to keep it as affordable as possible, so I’m checking out discount plus-sized bridal items (I should probably make a post on what I find, actually, at some point), and we’re going to make our own “save-the-date” ‘s, invitations, centerpieces, and favors.

    I’m going to keep having other posts here, for sure! “Dangerous Waters” is a tough new project, that I’m going to keep mining. I also want to keep reporting the facts of the current candidates and their ideas about the “obesity epidemic” and so forth, and stress how a system based on personal freedom is really the best system for people who want to preserve civil rights, parental rights, and advocate freedom-of-body issues.

  5. beckduer says:

    BL –

    I made the “save-the-dates”, invites, and programs for my Brother and SIL wedding 2 yrs ago. A lot of paper supply companies have some really gorgous “print-it-yourself” stationary designed for these things. The first two items we purchased from an online stationary store (I don’t remember the name, but if I find it, I’ll send it to you if you’re interested). They were really gorgeous, velum with daisies printed/embossed on them (SIL loves daisies and wild-flowers)

    The programs were complete designed and created by us. They came out beautifully and they were REALLY easy! We used plain velum, colored “scrap book” paper and ivory “resume” paper and card-stock. Anyone with word-processing software and access to a laser printer can do it, and it saved them a huge amount of money.

    Their whole wedding was a DIY affair, so we had some great times putting it all together!

  6. BigLiberty says:

    Thanks, beckduer! I’m a “craft-y” person myself, and I think my mom would just love to help me make a bunch of things. And considering my DF and I are renovating our house ourselves (with our own bare hands!) I think I might have a little DIY-er in me, too. :)

    I’ll have to check out the stationary and card-stock. Great tips!

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