Something A Bit Heavy.*

Editor’s Note:  Although I wrote this post last week, I was a bit behind on my blog reading and missed the announcement for Caitlin’s (of Operation Beautiful & Healthy Tipping Point fame) “Change the Way You See, Not the Way You Look” week.  It’s going on this week, August 2 through August 7, as a way for bloggers and readers to think and talk about body images issues.  I am participating and submitting this post!  Check out Operation Beautiful and Healthy Tipping Point for more information or if you’d like to participate.

CTWYSNTWYL 

Old School 1
(Source)

Remember this scene from the movie Old School?  Mitch and Nicole go have coffee at the diner, and the waiter gives them their meal for free, because Mitch, of course, is The Godfather of the fraternity the guys have started on campus.  My favorite part of that scene is when Nicole leaves the diner in a huff, and the waiter leans down to Mitch and says, “Love.   It’s a mother-fucker, eh?”

So why am I bringing this movie up?  Because today I want to take a time-out from DIY, guest lists, butterflies and rainbows and talk about the pressures we brides feel to look our best on our wedding day.  What does this have to do with Old School?  Why, this, of course:  “Self-esteem.  It’s a motherfucker, eh?”

The bridal industry, and the world at large, it seems, puts a ton of pressure on brides to look our best on our wedding day.  Every bride—EVERY one—is trying to lose 10 pounds, get in shape, or is generally worrying about how she’ll look on her wedding day.  Everywhere you look in the bridal industry, you can’t escape it:  from the uber-thin models wearing gorgeous dresses in the magazines, to the popular wedding websites with entire sections dedicated to “looking and feeling your best,” and even to a whole crop of bridal boot camps now gaining momentum in the fitness industry.  “Lose 10 Pounds!” “Slim your thighs!” “Tone your arms!”  These are just a few of the headlines you might see on a popular wedding website or in a wedding magazine.  I think the worst sort of pressure, though, is the type we put on ourselves.  We’re inundated with these images and articles and boot camps and we suddenly feel we have to be perfect.

And while there’s no doubt that every bride wants to look and feel her best on the big day, this constant pressure is sometimes, I think, too much.   I’ve been really struggling with my self-esteem lately, and I know others have too.  I never used to be a person who was obsessive about her weight.  Sure, I might be a bit pudgy around the edges, but I generally make good food choices, enjoy quality exercise, and like to yoga it up now and then, too.  Lately, though, I’ve been all-consumed by a lot of the following thoughts:   What will I eat?  When will I eat it?  When can I get to the gym?  How much weight have I lost?  What if my dress doesn’t zip?  Must. Work. Out.  I’m so tired I could cry.  Ugh, I look and feel fat today. What’s for lunch?  How many calories are in that?  Get. To. The. Gym. 

It’s a slippery slope, isn’t it?  One day, you have a pretty healthy perspective on your weight.  Sure, you might feel bloated some days, but generally, you like the way you look and you feel good about where you’re at.  Pretty soon, though, you can become someone you’re not.  Someone who worries constantly that she looks fat.  Berates herself internally for not working out enough, or eating too much at dinner one night.

This, friends, is not who I normally am.  I am not the girl who is obsessed with exercising, calorie counting, or the like.  I am the girl who loves good food and wine.  Who ran a marathon.  And who, two days ago, decided she had had ENOUGH of the pressure she was putting on herself.

First, I read this.  And thought, Ah yes, how profound.  She looks lovely on her wedding day, and her weight was the furthest thing from her mind.  And her post was directly intended for people like me, who were suddenly feeling the pressure a little too much. 

Then, I talked to a good friend.  Who told me to step back, re-evaluate, and stop beating myself up about my weight and my looks and start celebrating myself for the things I’ve accomplished. 

And then, I went shopping.  I found some beautiful undergarments for my wedding gown, a lovely dress for my shower, and a gorgeous, sexy number for our rehearsal dinner.  In a size 6.  And only then did I realize how ludicrous my self-deprecating thoughts had become. 

So, girls, I am here to spread the message:  stop beating yourselves up. You’re going to look lovely on your wedding day, no matter how much you weigh.  If you’re not where you want to be at, not a big deal—being heavier than you’d like to be on your wedding day will not, in the least, detract from the huge commitment you’re about to make to your partner or the love and joy you’ll share with your family and friends.  So let’s try to remember that from now on, ok?  Myself included.  And when you need a pick-me-up, go visit one of my favorite websites:  Operation Beautiful.  Consider this YOUR Operation Beautiful post-it note, girls—you are ALL beautiful, no matter what your shape and size. 

*Pun intended.

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12 Comments

Filed under Fitness, Worries

12 responses to “Something A Bit Heavy.*

  1. Great post! I’ve always been the same size and have never had issues with my body image. But I do feel insecure sometimes, like when I see a bride in wedding pictures and wonder if I’ll look as pretty as she did. Then I just have to sit back and realize that EVERY bride is pretty and of course I’ll look pretty too (as will you!). As long as we’re all happy and healthy, that’s what matters.

  2. Great post!

    This is so me right now, “What will I eat? When will I eat it? When can I get to the gym? How much weight have I lost? What if my dress doesn’t zip? Must. Work. Out. I’m so tired I could cry. Ugh, I look and feel fat today. What’s for lunch? How many calories are in that? Get. To. The. Gym. ” that had me laughing.

    Mostly though, I’m really fed up with how I feel. I want to feel comfortable in a bathing suit this summer and I wanted to do something about it so I have started making healthier food choices and I work out everyday. I’m trying to make it part of my lifestyle and more of a habit than a chore. So far so good! Thanks for the reminder though! 🙂

  3. I haven’t been obsessing about weight, but I have been putting pressure on myself to look perfect — skin, hair, makeup etc, and fearing that I won’t live up to my own unrealistic expectations. But we just got the proofs from our e-photos — I did my make up myself, wore a dress I’ve worn a million times, and sweat like crazy taking pics in 90+ degree weather, but I love them. And I look fine.

    So I’m officially letting go. Besides, the stress isn’t good for my skin either. Good for you for getting to your own comfortable place — I think that’s what matters most.

  4. Ali

    “Pretty soon, though, you can become someone you’re not. Someone who worries constantly that she looks fat. Berates herself internally for not working out enough, or eating too much at dinner one night.”- is sort of the elephant in the room when I am around. That’s exactly how I feel and who I’ve become.
    You can say, “Don’t worry about it girls…..I went shopping and tried on a size 6……..we need to stop beating ourselves up…” but you just encouraged me even more by saying that. I’m not a size six, but I so desperately want to be. For those of us who are trying super hard to be healthy and feel good about ourselves and can’t shake the thoughts, its really hard. Its embarassing. How easy it is for you to say your some of that stuff…I wouldnt dare reveal my size…you are hard on yourself for your wedding…trying feeling it for your life.
    Good intentions though.

  5. amyc13

    Ali–

    There’s not a lot I can say that can help improve your self-esteem or make you feel better about yourself. I’m sorry if this post offended you. All I can say is that what I was trying to convey was the fact that no matter our sizes, we’ve all been there. We’ve all felt bad about ourselves at one time or another…and it’s time to stop beating up on ourselves and work on making our lives better–through good food, good exercise, sleep, and water (which is what works for me…but do what works for YOU!).

    Further…this post was, truly, meant for brides…who I think feel more pressure about their looks than, say, the average woman. Sure, you put pressure on yourself during your every day life. But what I meant by this post is that brides are sort of “taught” by the bridal industry that this one day is to be the “most important” or “best day of our lives”…and that our looks need to rival that. I am not saying that self-esteem is not an every day struggle…but this post was much more meant for the people who, like myself, are feeling worried or upset about this specific, ONE DAY in their lives.

    XOXO!

  6. Ali

    Got it. Thanks.

  7. Hugs! I think you look great, for what it’s worth. We’ve all been there, though. I know I have. And while finding the “f*ck it” mentality is easier said than done, it’s totally possible and TOTALLY a sanity-saver. So good for you 🙂

  8. Thank you for posting this. It’s exactly how I feel too!

  9. Awesome post. Brides-to-be really need to hear this message. While I was planning my wedding I broke down in tears several times because of the unfair pressure I felt to lose weight and look like I was in the best shape of my life. At the same time, my fiance who was completely out of shape felt no pressure at all. It really is too much, and completely ridiculous, for women to have to go through this.

  10. Great post! I just got engaged and am already having those thoughts. I’m getting married in a year and, of course, want to lose ten pounds. I tried on dresses a few weeks back with my mom. In one gown (mermaid style), I felt horrible. I told my mom “I look huge.” She quickly told me that dress style wasn’t my best and to remember how pretty I’d looked in the other dresses. She then took me out for mexican and margaritas. 🙂 My goal is to focus on eating more healthy foods and to continue running (I just started a few months ago). I am not going to let my big day turn into months of feeling bad about myself.

  11. I was married last year and I felt absolutely no pressure to lose weight for it (granted I am fortunate to maintain a size 6ish figure easily). Did I want to look pretty on my wedding day? Absolutely! I wanted a dress that flattered my body, hair done, and make-up done.

    I don’t understand and despise those that lose weight just because they are engaged and getting married. Losing weight needs to be lifestyle change and if the goal is to be skinny for your wedding, well that weight is going to creep right back on after you say “I do”. Additionally, your fiance is marrying you for you. Not a skinnier version of you.

  12. amyc13

    Rachel,

    I think “despise” is a pretty strong word to use in a context like this. Just because you don’t understand the pressures some brides feel to lose weight for their wedding day (because, as you said, you maintain a size 6 figure easily) does not mean you should “despise” them for wanting to do that. I’m well aware–and I think most people are well aware–that losing weight is a lifestyle change. I live a healthy life–work out 4-5 days per week, eat mindfully (I ran a marathon, too!)–but that doesn’t mean I’m not feeling the pressure or hearing the inner voices that tell me I need to look perfect for my wedding day. I think perhaps you might have missed the boat on the point of this post. It’s not about complaining that I want to lose 10 pounds for my wedding, it’s about the fact that I was putting so much pressure on myself to do so that I lost sight of who I really am. It’s about taking a step back and realizing that it’s not the end of the world if you’re not your skinniest on your wedding day…and it’s about letting go of all the pressure we put on ourselves to look perfect. In any case, I really appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to comment. It’s wonderful when we can all engage in intelligent conversation about issues such as this, and I think that’s one of the great things the Operation Beautiful movement has helped to promote!

    Wishing you all the best!
    Amy

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