A question that has been asked directly, implied, DMed and Whatsapped to me by a variety of strangers to not-so-strangers, ever since Ben and I got engaged.
Of course he hasn’t been asked the same question, but that’s for another show, as Jerry Springer would say.
Virtually every wedding I’ve been to or seen on social media has featured a bride who spent the prevailing months before the big day talking about how much weight she needed to lose, how much exercise she was beginning to do, how many salads she was about to consume – or a mixture of all three.
Being a bride comes with many pressures.
The organisation, the finances, the energy, the fact no one will ask you about your personal achievements or areas of interest whenever they see you, instead choosing to ask, ‘how is the wedding coming along?’ and the knowledge that you’re about to be the centre of attention for a long-ass day.
Lots of women can’t wait for their ‘big day’, where they get to be the ‘blushing bride’, a ‘princess’ or something else that makes me personally want to do a little mouth vom.
I am SO excited to marry Ben. We already feel like we’re married! He’s my best friend and my best team mate.
And I’m so grateful for all of the work our nearest and dearest have put into getting us ready for, ‘the best day of our lives.’
Except I’ve never bought into wedding culture, metaphorically of course, as my ruined bank balance will attest to being financially bought in.
The thought of a giant white dress, all eyes on me and having to decide on napkin colours is something I’ve never wanted.
Now it’s upon us, of course I’m excited and when I think about the day, I cannot wait to see Ben, our friends, eat the amazing food, dance to our awesome band and celebrate the hard work his Mum and Dad have put in to pull off a pretty great bash!
We’ve been fortunate enough to create an entire day that feels totally, ‘us’. We’ve bucked traditions we didn’t give a stuff about and planned new ones that we can’t wait to try and pull off!
But the spotlight, that I’ve assumed will be on how I look on the day, has terrified me for the last year.
I feel like the metaphorical elephant in the bridal suite. The weight-gain that nobody dare mention but a thought that hangs over every conversation about, ‘the dress’.
You see, my bridesmaids took me to many bridal salons. Some where I felt fabulous in dresses I couldn’t afford and others where, out of 150 dresses, I could only choose between 5 to try on. And all were, ‘did you pick this up at Peacocks?’ as opposed to the modern, trendy and ‘me’ piece I’d imagined.
No one tells you this about a lot of bridal stores. That you have to go 2 sizes up. And that most of the dresses stop at a size 16. So a size 12 really.
Bethany Rutter wrote an amazing piece on what it’s like to try and find a plus size bridal gown.
I was told I had plenty of time to lose weight if I wanted to come back and find the styles I actually liked.
When I’ve been in therapy and have been learning about loving myself – all of me – it’s been such a kick in the teeth to know this expectation to lose weight to fit the bridal beauty mould, hangs in the air.
And the biggest kicker is knowing that I’m probably the only one putting the expectation on me (and those arseholes who’ve brought it up)! Old body-shaming magazine headlines from trashy mags scream out at me and memories of my favourite people as slim brides hang in the back of my brain, asking why I didn’t start the 12 week countdown plan too.
I feel frustrated at myself for thinking I would be happier if I was slimmer on my wedding day. Because my personal development journey has taught me that no matter what I look out on the outside, it’s the inside that shows through.
And the inside is feeling the pressure to be a bride worthy of a wedding magazine spread. The inside is terrified of looking at my wedding photos back and hating what I see.
But the inside also knows that this is not me talking – it’s the body shaming culture I’ve been brought up in. It’s the constant messages about a defined standard of bridal beauty that have eaten away at me way before I even got engaged.
So I was presented the option of having my dress made by a family friend that was a little bit pricier than my budget but a whole lot less than the dresses I hated in the salon, I decided to go for it so I could feel confident that I was going to feel myself on the day.
What I’ve realised is simple. Ben is marrying me. Who I am and what I look like now, when we first met and how I’ll be in 50 years. Our family and friends are excited to spend a day in the sunshine (hopefully), drinking Aperol Spritz, listening to our favourite songs and celebrating how much we love each other. They couldn’t give a shit about my weight – and neither should I.
Then here’s to me quashing that negative voice that replays those awful messages. It’s not easy but I have to try. Here’s to continuing to raise awareness about diet culture and the obsession with women as brides and its harm on generations of us. And here’s to the future Mrs L-S – starting a new married life. One that is hopefully filled with a lot more self love and a lot less self-imposed pressure on what I look like.