Fat Wedding, Part 4: “The Bride Wore Very Little”

Image from NYTimes.com

This is going to be a short one in the Fat Wedding series. I read this NYTimes article last week and have been meaning to get around to talking about it.

I’m picking out this article in particular NOT because it out-and-out rails against fat brides, or gives you a diet plan, etc, but because of its general assumptions that brides all want to lose weight and/or look thin, fit, ‘in shape,’ toned, good naked, etc for their wedding day.

I think this piece it epitomized in a line by Ms. DaSilva, an interviewee:

“I want to look back in 20 years and feel like I looked hot on my wedding day.”

That’s it, isn’t it? “..feel like I looked hot…” Not that “It was a beautiful ceremony, I looked beautiful,” but that she “looked hot” to the attendees of her wedding and society as a whole. And what is hot these days? Tall, thin, large breasts. So it a revealing wedding dress which shows miles of thigh, making the shortest person look taller, and showing off how hard she worked to “attain” the upper-arm-like circumference to her upper thigh. Low-cut gowns show cleavage; and thinness, of course, is displayed by mermaid-style sheath dresses.

In addition to the dresses shown in the NYTimes article (included above) here are some sample images I’ve gathered from this season’s bridal fashions:

The above dresses are from designers mentioned in the NYTimes piece, and they’re designs from the 2007 bridal season. These particular styles are those that look like they’re designed to show off a very thin frame. There are many, many, many of these styles by famous designers, especially since the dresses are made to look good on models that look like those above, who are excruciatingly thin.

“Young women increasingly look to the red carpet for style ideas,” said Millie Martini Bratten, the editor in chief of Brides magazine. “They are very aware of how they look,” she added. “They diet, they work out. And when they marry, they want to be the celebrity of their own event.”

I see. So women who don’t diet or work out before their weddings aren’t “aware of how they look”? Oh sure, we just go and grab the white-ish muumuu off the rack the day before the weddin’, yee-haw! (with one hand, since the other is stuffing food into our face) We have no interest in fashion, or looking good. Because, apparently, ‘looking good’ is synonymous to ‘being thinner.’

But of course, there’s more!

Catherine Cuddy, an insurance analyst in New Jersey, was similarly focused on turning heads when she married in Bryant Park in New York last October. She dispensed with the customary long, fitted sleeves and train in favor of a halter style that dipped to the small of her back.

Even a veil was too much for her. “I didn’t want to cover up my dress,” said Ms. Cuddy, 33, a self-described Rita Hayworth type. Or the torrents of curls that rushed past her shoulders. Or, for that matter, her gym-toned back.

To get in shape for her gown, a white lace sheath that appeared to have been turned on a lathe, she stepped up visits with her trainer from one to three sessions a week. Ms. Cuddy had no thought of defying tradition or making a statement of any kind. She simply wanted to make the most of her curves, she said.

Again, there’s the sense that one has to “get in shape for her gown,” rather than, yanno, buying a dress that fits. Have we so ritualized the wedding day that the wedding dress has become more like a priest’s robe a woman must fast and self-harm in order to earn?

I don’t know if this is more a fat issue or a feminist issue, at its core; regardless, it is a reinforcement that body shape and size is a moral issue, in this case in particular for a woman (most sites focus on helping the bride lose weight, not the groom). She is “sexy” when she can wear slinky sheer trumpet-style wedding gowns with a slit up the leg, and hence more desirable, and hence more worthy of marriage.

I also, of course, want to note that also Ms. Cuddy wanted to make “the most of her curves,” she “stepped up” her personal trainer sessions to, I’d imagine, get rid of some curves! And I agree that she had no thought of “defying tradition;” the idea that women have had to self-harm and self-efface in order to ‘deserve’ to be married is very, very old. The idea their bodies equal their worth is also old. The marriage of the two concepts, no pun, is the tortured, starving dieter, willing to do anything to shed X pounds in order to “look good on” her “big day.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean we have to stand for it. I plan on looking wonderful for my “big day.” But I don’t plan on dieting in the 18 months between now and then.

9 comments on “Fat Wedding, Part 4: “The Bride Wore Very Little”

  1. jwcooper3 says:

    Right on. All the women in the pictures look terrible. If you aren’t going to be who you are on your wedding day….why bother? Great post.

  2. betsyjanesix says:

    Great post – and thank you! I am getting married next month and felt that sense of panic looking at the models wearing wedding gowns and comparing them to my own plus sized figure. I got over myself and went in search of a fabulous gown and found one by Mon Cheri Couture – I even got it brand new on eBay. There ARE designers out there who are making beautiful gowns for more realistic figures – they just don’t get the press of course. I know you’ll look amazing on your wedding day too – regardless of your size. Thanks for sticking up for real women everywhere!

  3. Myke says:

    Right on. This is a sweet article.

  4. antigenre says:

    I honestly can think of almost nothing to add! Very well said. My only comment is that women should be allowed to feel ‘hot’ no matter what their body type. If what a woman is wearing looks good and feels good on her according to her own standards, nobody should tell her otherwise. I certainly wasn’t model-thin on my wedding day, and had no intention of being so, and I felt fabulous!

  5. jamboree says:

    I also, of course, want to note that also Ms. Cuddy wanted to make “the most of her curves,” she “stepped up” her personal trainer sessions to, I’d imagine, get rid of some curves!

    Curves equal big tits, don’tcha know! Anything else “curvy” on a woman is just fatty mcfat fat.

  6. BigLiberty says:

    Thanks, everyone. I just want to stress that this isn’t an anti-thin rant by any means: thin women deserve to look beautiful on their wedding day, just as do medium sizes, and plus sizes! Instead of everyone trying to fit into the same size 2 couture gown, or the sample sizes which rarely go above an American 10 or 12 in boutiques, why don’t we cater to a very real market that exists for all women, of all sizes?

    Last time I checked, not just thin women were getting married. 😉

    Also, stressing styles that naturally show off ‘bones’ as a matter of course — styles that dip steeply in the back, or slit up of the leg, or make prominent collarbones and shoulder bones—is harmful. Looking through many of the styles this season, I see the biggest accessories are shoulder bones and collarbones, and it’s frightening. Designers are even forgoing lower necklaces, sticking to throat-gripping pearls or nothing, in order to show off these ‘assets.’ If they had some big girls who were showing off other things too, fine, whatever floats your boat. But to stress this as the most, even only acceptable form of beauty or worthiness to wear couture, is really disturbing.

  7. wendymyers says:

    I agree that women look to the red carpet for ideas and that the idealism of these under weight 14-16 year olds they use for models are not what women should be looking at as an ideal. It is very sad.

    Thank you for posting this, it is very interesting.


  8. […] in at 1,882 hits is my post Fat Wedding, Part 4: “The Bride Wore Very Little.” A quote: Again, there’s the sense that one has to “get in shape for her gown,” rather than, […]

  9. ndlesdream says:

    This is why I had my mom design and sew my wedding dress. Obviously I’m incredibly lucky in that I have a mom who’s an excellent seamstress, it’s not something that would be available to every bride. I got to pick the things I liked about the designer dresses but then apply it to my dress for my size on my terms. No “white-ish muumuu” (hilarious!) for this girl. My biggest concern for my wedding was that all my guests had a good time, and they had a fantastic one! I certainly wanted to be beautiful (have never cared about looking “hot”, that kind of attention freaks me out) but when I was in the moment, I didn’t give a thought to what I looked like to everyone else.

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