By Mira East, Publisher
I’ve always been aware of body criticism and fat shaming, but it became even more apparent as I started seeing and hearing brides and bridesmaids protesting the size they should order. The pressure brides put on themselves is crazy. Not only are they planning an event for 150+ people, but most are trying to lose weight before the wedding so they can look “skinny” in their photos.
When planning, brides browse magazines, Pinterest, IG, blogs, and more. They look at the designer’s website and see a model in their dream dress and think, “I need to look that good.” Or they see a segment on the morning news on how to get rid of “flabby arms” or stop “chub rub” in its tracks. Even worse, they go shopping for bridal gowns and see another bride-to-be in a similar style. And so the comparisons begin….
“She looks so much better in that dress. I can’t buy it now! Her body is perfect. God, I look awful. Take it off. TAKE IT OFF!”
The struggle is real. Your consultant may recommend a gown that’s 2-3 sizes larger than what you normally wear. Thanks to European sizing and designers’ refusal to evolve size charts to match modern day norms, brides begin to panic in their dressing rooms. “I’m not that size!” Just try to remember it’s not you, it’s the industry.
So let’s define what’s happening here. It’s called “Bride Shaming.” This new form of criticism can put an irremovable damper on the planning process. And wedding related reality TV does not help. Let’s ask ourselves, what terminology should we avoid when referring to ourselves or others? How can we change the conversation? I’ve included “15 Things to Never Say”. Trust me, not everyone wants to hear those words, sarcastic or not. If you’re planning your big day, there’s no better time to get a handle on your insecurities and the way you treat yourself. Someone loves you very much—it’s time to start loving yourself.
I am a firm believer that there’s a wedding dress out there for every bride—whether you have an athletic, tall, apple-shaped or hourglass figure. And this might surprise you, but you don’t have to stick to the uber-flattering fit-and-flare silhouette if you’re looking for a dress that does your curves justice. In fact, some of the trendiest styles out there—from dramatic ball gowns to sexy mermaids—look amazing on a lot of different body types. What’s the key to finding your perfect fit? Keep an open mind! What you think will look amazing might not and what you never thought you would slip into, could be the one.
Let’s break it down. First, skinny-shaming is just as toxic as fat. While I’m proud that companies like Lane Bryant and Dove are showing adoration for all figure types, sometimes skinny girls get tossed under the bus. Many models and petite actresses are told to “eat a sandwich” or that they look “anorexic.” In her song “Anaconda,” Niki Minaj has some shameful words for those skinny B’s in the club. Quite suddenly, the media has turned on the “thin” women of the world.
What about athletes? They’re “boyish,” “buff,” “flat as a board”…the list goes on. Many brides complain about their “broad shoulders” or “masculine” figures. This self-criticism is caused—once again—by the media. They’re told that ladies aren’t supposed to be muscular. Without curves and a little fat on their bones, they no longer look like a woman.
Men deal with the same commentary. The “Dad Bod” has gotten a lot of attention lately. Beer bellies are ‘in’ and biceps are ‘out,’ says social media. Leonardo DiCaprio, Seth Rogan, and Jason Segal are “rocking” Dad Bods. Perhaps Chris Pratt shouldn’t have buffed up? Would he be hotter without his new abs?
What if the people saying these things are those you love and trust most? Many women have a mother, sister, or other female family member who consistently comments on their figure.
Getting over the public’s definition of “pretty” is one thing, but ignoring your mother’s digs is another. While I understand that they’re coming from a good place, comments like, “Have you been stress eating again?” or “Those pants look a little tight, hon…” can be detrimental blows to a girl’s confidence.
Now imagine them as you try on bridal gowns. I’ve witnessed this first hand. I’ve taken a bride back into her fitting room to boost her confidence after she received unwelcome scrutiny.
How do we change this? How can we twist this culture?
I always recommend bringing a small entourage of loved ones to your appointment, but remember that their opinions are just that. Some of the commentary can be embarrassing. “You’re busting out of that dress” or “that gown gives you back cleavage” are common bride-shaming phrases. First of all, the samples you try on are unaltered and probably not your size. Second, you need to tell them to shush! These comments are not helpful or factual. As women, we need to work on how we talk about one another’s bodies so we can set an example for society.
If you’re a bride, let your family know which opinions are helpful and which are not. As a member of the entourage, keep your bride’s confidence level up and remind yourself that this is her dream dress, whether you like it or not. Ask yourself: Which one matches her personality and makes her unique beauty glow?
The moral of the story? There’s no satisfying the public. One minute you’re supposed to be 100 pounds and the next you need to look like a Kardashian.
Discover your own definition of beautiful. Drop the hashtag #NoExcuses. We have plenty of valid excuses. We have a full-time job, lots of friends we want to see, an obsession for good wine, a love for all things cheese-related, and a belief that watching Netflix is therapeutic. Does that mean we are unhealthy? Of course not! We are living a life…enjoy it.
What is important is wellness.
To me, “beautiful” should mean waking up each day and feeling strong and happy. It means looking in the mirror and seeing someone who’s taking care of themselves and focusing on all the areas of Wellness. Are you physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally healthy? Track this. Add it to your wedding planning binder.
Tell yourself you’re beautiful—right now.
I am thrilled that designers are offering more plus size options in their collections for curvy brides. The best part? Even if they aren’t pictured on a plus size model, they’re all available to order in plus size! I’ve partnered with Watters, one of our favorite designers for curves to bring you some of my top picks.
Images credit Real Brides:
Liz Domingos: Matthew Leland Photography
Kate Trompetter: Nine by 9 Photography & Wheeler & Williams Photography
Editorial in collaboration with Wedding Shoppe Blogger: Hannah Arkeli