Amanda is getting married, and she’s pretty jazzed about it. She’s psyched for the wedding, psyched to share the day with friends and family, and psyched to spend the rest of her life with a guy who’s perfect for her. But she has some thoughts on the wedding industry’s effect on bridal self-esteem:
I’m getting married this August, and you’d think that society would be encouraging me to focus on my impending wedded bliss. You’d be wrong. Society is a lot more concerned with the fact that I’m too fat to be a bride. Or, at least, these sources are pretty convinced that I think I’m too fat to be a bride and that I want to lose weight so that no one is disgusted by how I look on “my big day.”
The thing is that I have a decently healthy body image, given that I am a young woman living in a country where healthy body images are hardly encouraged. I love food – I even blog about it on a regular basis. But I hate my arms. Always have. They’re short, stubby, and a large percentage of my body fat resides there. Despite the fact that I do a fair amount of strength training, you can barely see my muscles. And they’re there—trust me. Thinking about my wedding, and all the surrounding events (rehearsal dinner, parties, honeymoon) where cameras will be out and clicking, I realized that I wanted my arms to look a bit more toned. Why? Because that’s what I want. I like it if I can look in the mirror or at pictures of myself and actually see the muscles that I’ve worked so hard on over the past few years.
When I was home for spring break and talking about wanting more toned arms, my mom suggested I follow her lead and try ExerciseTV. Looking at the many, many options, I thought that instead of listening to my mom’s wise video suggestions, I’d try one of the programs aimed at brides. I figured it would tone the muscles I was concerned about toning, because according to all the crazy wedding newsletters I get, lots of brides dislike their arms. So I grabbed my mom’s handweights and exercised along with Bridal Body Burn.
It was a great workout, but there was one problem. The video was polluted by annoying little side comments like “Your groom-to-be is going to be so proud of you!” I missed a few push-ups because I was rolling my eyes and making fake gagging noises.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. That video was hardly the worst offender in the wedding industry. I’ve been bombarded with e-mails advertising dozens of exercise and weight loss regimens operating on the assumption that I need to “slim down” before getting hitched. One such advertisement promised to help me lose 30 pounds before my “big day.” I shared this e-mail with my fiancé, who was horrified. “You’re not going to do that, are you?” he asked. You see, he thinks I look pretty great just the way I am, shocking as that may be to the wedding industry.
As soon-to-be-brides, we’re made to feel that we have to be beautiful enough or thin enough on our wedding day so that our groom won’t regret his decision to marry us and our guests won’t snicker at our bodies. It’s all a bunch of baloney meant to make us feel more insecure so that we’ll buy more stuff from the wedding industry. That’s not to say that we can’t want to get in better shape before our wedding, but it should be about what we want our bodies to look like—whether we want more muscular legs, more toned arms, or just to lose a few pounds—not about what others expect of us.
What’s truly ironic about the warped emphasis on being beautiful for everybody else’s benefit, is that the rest of the wedding industry is all about encouraging the selfish bride. It’s your perfect fairytale wedding, your big day, you are the princess (don’t you think the groom deserves at least an honorable mention?*). It’s pretty obnoxious. I’m pretty excited about the whole wedding thing, but so is my fiancé, and so are our families. It’s about us, not about me. Except when it’s about me being a giant hippo and how my groom will only be proud of me if I shed some weight.
*If you catch the Golden Girls reference, you’re my hero
Amanda is a law student. She is engaged. She blogs about food at emandam.com.
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