Let’s talk about weddings today, specifically, let’s talk about why I’m not dieting for my wedding (or any other big event that might come along). Unfortunately a diet or weight loss plan seems to be an expected step when you are planning a wedding nowadays. You know: venue, bridesmaids, flowers, diet and exercise plan – it’s the natural order of things. But it shouldn’t be, and it doesn’t have to be. When you decide to get married you are constantly sold the idea that to have the ‘best day of your life’ you need to be a certain size, be tanned, have long hair, perfect nails, a ‘honeymoon ready body’ ⇒⇒ be a #buffbride. But it’s a load of bull. And the only way we can stop this wedding industrial complex idea of being the ‘perfect bride’ is to opt out. To stand up and refuse to spend months reducing yourself, wasting your beautiful life obsessed with counting calories and riding the hamster wheel elliptical at the gym.Luckily last year I stumbled across Intuitive Eating and Health At Every Size a few months before I started shopping for my wedding dress. I knew that preparing for our wedding was going to be a time when my old disordered eating and exercise behaviours could re-emerge and I didn’t want icky diet-mentality memories associated with my wedding. I made a concerted effort to focus on self-care and work on any lingering restrictive eating or exercise behaviours before I headed out to buy my dress. I did a deep dive into Intuitive Eating books, blogs and podcasts (post on these resources coming next week) and journalled how my relationship to my body was changing, and growing more positive, more curious than judgmental.
When the day came I had the best time trying on all sorts of styles without obsessing over how my body looked. I just let go and enjoyed the experience (and I found The One). I was very fortunate in my wedding shopping experience too that I didn’t have any shopping assistants ask me if I was planning on dieting before the wedding, and being a straight-sized woman I also enjoy thin privilege when shopping for clothes as the stores had the dresses in my size. I was grateful for such a positive experience, but I am aware that not everyone has a similarly fun time. After the dress was picked I made a vow that my wedding wouldn’t be about how my arms looked in my dress, or whether my body was ready for our honeymoon. (I mean, I have a body, let’s book some plane tickets already!) Pre-wedding diets are a whole separate, billions of dollars a year industry. An ugly way that the $60 billion dollar a year diet industry preys on women who have been told that this is the ‘most important day of their life’. It’s not. I am under no illusions that my wedding day is going to be the most important day of my life. It’s going to be a fun day filled with family and friends and love, and I’m going to stand up and declare to the world that I am marrying my best friend and we are joining our lives together. We are making a lifetime together, not one day. And I don’t want that lifetime to start off with me being crazy starved and over exercised with a body that is crying out for compassion, not crunches.
Instead of focusing on dropping the pounds for our wedding days (pounds that will come back later because diets don’t work) we should focus on creating a kinder way of approaching our bodies and our choices from a place of love rather than restriction. We should focus fostering a relationship with our soon-to-be spouse that is a solid bedrock for a lifetime together. And we should have fun with all the planning and events in the lead-up to our wedding!
Luckily, part of my wedding planning included being diagnosed with cancer. Yes, I say luckily. I am grateful that I had a big wake-up call that has given me a new love for my body because it’s still here (albeit a little different looking now) and ALIVE and I get to marry the person I love in this awesome body! I get to continue this lifetime we have planned together in a body that is blessed with restored health. For a short while when I was being diagnosed we didn’t know the road ahead of us. We didn’t know if we would have the opportunity for a lifetime together. When we found out that I was one of the lucky ones with a very operable, treatable form of neuroendocrine cancer, we were overcome with gratitude that our battle would be short, and our future together would be long. In that environment who would choose to sacrifice any of their time obsessing over meal plans and workouts. I don’t want it to take an event like that in someone else’s life for them to realise that a pre-wedding diet (or any diet for that matter) or exercise plan isn’t how they should spend their precious time. So if you are thinking of embarking on a plan to change your body for your wedding (or for any other reason) I hope you read these words and know that there is another way. We can work on being kinder to ourselves and making kind body choices without restricting or punishing.
Of course, there are times I struggle with this. I’m not a perfect person, and I’m not living in a perfect world, but I can say that every day I am working towards a more peaceful relationship with food and exercise, and I refuse to give into messages that tell me that I am anything less than a wondrous, amazing being who deserves to be kind to her body and live her life to the fullest ⇒ And rock her wedding dress!
If you are looking for more words like this please read these two wonderful posts:
Why I Didn’t Lose Weight For My Wedding Day – by Louise McSharry
A Letter to My Pre-Wedding Dieting Self – by Zen and Spice
The two professional images above were taken by our awesome photographer Dallas Love Photography. Seriously, she’s awesome. And yes, we had Penny in some of our engagement photos.