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Walking into the bridal shop this weekend, I anticipated a fairly uncomfortable experience for someone who can often be fairly uncomfortable with her appearance, but I wasn’t prepared for the overriding feeling of a complete collapse in ‘bridal body confidence’ that overtook me whilst drowning in white satin and lace.
Why the fuck did I just do a heading in the style of Yoda?
Crikey, the bridal salon REALLY had me spinning out.
But why? I’m such an advocate for loving yourself, whatever your shape and size, but being a bride-to-be is TESTING ME.
So where did this spiral into body-un-confidence start?
Outside influences perhaps? It’s really hard to tell people that the style of wedding dress you love has sleeves because you’re arm-conscious for them to say, ‘just do some weights and tone them up?’ or, ‘you’ll lose weight before next September!’.
Or is it the magazines? Of 6ft supermodels swishing around in the most beautiful gowns atop some disgustingly beautiful Italian villa, that you just KNOW would look like an uneven, saggy, white bin-bag on your 5 foot 4 and lumpy frame.
Bridal body culture is fucking INSIDIOUS. It’s everywhere and in every single message you receive about being a bride-to-be.
I struggle EVERY DAY with body-image, dysmporphia and just loving myself. Make yourself a bride-to-be and watch those insecurities ramp tf up.
You’re beautiful as you are. You don’t need to ‘lose weight’. Society profits off of telling women to change themselves. The wedding industry profits off of the notion that women need to be, ‘the best version of themselves’ on their wedding day – as if sticking on lashes, a garter, 4 inches of make-up and dieting beyond all recognition really means, ‘best self.’– Vix Meldrew, 2018, trying to quiet the negative body image voices errrday
I thought body-shaming was bad in traditional media. Beach bodies. Celebrity idols who are only 2% natural. Weight-loss programmes, lollipops, teas, fucking cacti being hawked on Instagram.
Because the message here is so clear.
To be a bride, you must be the ‘best version’ of yourself. Society teaches us that, ‘best version’ means: the slimmest, tanned, teeth-whitened, limb-lengthened, hairless, Hollwooded version.
The thing is, I KNOW it’s all bullshit. I KNOW that diet culture and body-shaming is a tool to keep women preoccupied. I HATE that women constantly face pressures over what we look like and how we should change. But it still hasn’t 100% sunken in. It’s still not 100% in my core.
I have days where I couldn’t give a shit that I’ve put on a few pounds, that my old jeans don’t fit, that my teeth aren’t ‘Megan from Love Island ultra-violet’ or that I’m almost, ‘Simon Cowell’s chest’ level of hairy – because I feel happy and content in life. I look around at all of my influences and see gorgeous women loving themselves exactly how they are. I see that they’ve beaten the system that’s used to oppress us by making us hate our appearance and I throw my fist up in a solidarity, ‘YASSS ME TOO’ but I still have days where I struggle.
And I know it’s the messages I’ve had forced upon since birth. From family, school friends, society and the media. I KNOW IT. But it still doesn’t prevent me from having those days of, ‘ugh I look like shit and I need to change.’
Now stick yourself in a wedding dress.
Where the shop assistant advises you that you’re probably best off wearing a big gown to make you appear slimmer, or have something that goes in at the waist so it skims your hip dips, or that halter-necks make your arms look smaller.
Be in a bridal salon where you’re looking around at a million other women trying on their dresses. And they’re all shapes and sizes. And they’re trying on gowns – not just that are flattering – but ones that they love, because they love themselves. And then stare in the mirror and just CRAVE that same feeling.
Be in a wedding dress that you hate, but that’s been put on you because it’s flattering, look over at your dream gown – embellished, long sleeved boho-y goodness and ask to try it on, to be told, ‘I’m sorry it only comes in sample sizes.’
So there you are.
Pumped full of these messages of change, improvement and bettering yourself. Make the links that being a glowing, beautiful bride just isn’t for you unless you look like what you imagine Amal Clooney looked like on her wedding day and make a choice.
To listen, or not to listen.
Walking away from the salon that day, I had these two choices. I could either believe that this experience was indicative of all of my bridal experiences to come.
I could’ve gone into a total shit spiral of looking at images that made me feel crap, reading up on the latest bridal diet or pinning images of dresses that I hate but that would be flattering.
Or I could walk away and realise that this isn’t going to be MY bridal journey. That it’s not going to be another stick I beat myself with. That my journey to loving myself and accepting myself as I am is WAY more important than the journey to wear a gown for a day.
I could walk away and remember who I am. A person who is a complete advocate for self love, who tries every day to buy into the positive messages and banish the negative ones. The person who never wanted to be a ‘bride’.
I am the woman who will wear a dress that will make me look like the best version of myself, rather than letting bridal body confidence wear me down into believing I need to change x, y, z to fit into a dress that will make me the best version of myself.
Because the best version of myself is this. It’s someone who loves themselves in their entirety. That doesn’t want to change. Because they are the person who is loved, who loves fully, who is more than a bride, who is more than an outfit, shoes, make-up and primping and preening.
I am a bride-to-be and I strive to be a confident one.– Vix Meldrew giving herself a kick up the arse
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