Fat Wedding 7: Photoshopping the Bridal Weight Neurosis

This is a short post about a this photo, pointed out to us on PhotoshopDisasters.com:

In what ways do you believe that this photoshopping job does or does not exemplify the “perfect bride” neurosis so currently popular?

I’d note these qualities:

* The super-pale, almost ash-grey skin

* The impossibly small waist, about the diameter of the too-large head

* The shoulders wider than the hips

* The obviously-colored blonde, smooth hair

* The knobby wrists

* The over-large breasts, each about the size of the bride’s face

* The f**k-me blow-up doll pouty lips and expression

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Fat Wedding 6: “Bluff and Buff Your Way to a Better Bridal Body”

Here’s part 6 in the Fat Wedding series, an exposé of the stresses and pressures on a bride to “look her best” (read: be skinny/ier) for her “big day.”

You & Your Wedding – Mind & Body

The introduction to the “mind & body” articles is “Get body and beauty confident with our special section.”

Well hey, that’s great! I’m already body and beauty confident. I think I look great, I have wonderful hair I can’t wait to get styled, and great skin I can’t wait to beautify. However, I could always use more confidence, right? There may be some great tips in these articles on how to, say, get sleep the night before to improve wellness (body), make sure I eat energy-rich healthy foods to keep myself going through the “big day,” (body), how to destress the night before (mind), and how to keep my cool in front of so many people (mind), right?

Scanning…scanning…oh. Hmm. Well, there are a few of these articles. Wedding Hair Style Inspiration looks cool. I was thinking of going kinda nature-y with my ‘do – maybe flowers, or laurels, something like that. DIY Facials looks kind of neat. I probably can’t afford to get a facial, so some DIY tips are welcome. Fragrance Advice from Roja Dove might be an interesting read.

However, surprise surprise, what subject comprises the greatest majority of articles? Weight-loss. There are even articles on cosmetic surgery (and cosmetic dentistry).

Of the 38 articles listed on the page: 47% (18) are about losing weight or getting “in shape.”

Heh. I guess we know what pre-wedding “beauty & mind” is REALLY all about.

Bridal Boot-camp

medicinenet.com – How to lose weight before the big day – and avoid the ‘heavier ever after’

Fleming recommends starting a bridal “boot camp” at least six months before the wedding that includes a balance of cardiovascular and strength training for about an hour a day, three to four days per week. Procrastinating brides and grooms who have less than six months to work with should plan on spending more time in the gym.

“Boot camp” — thank you, thank you, thank you for finally just saying it! “Boot camp” – a time of personal suffering that will, on the other end, pop out a ‘better you.’ It’s understood that it will be torture, but hey, it’s worth it to have a thin(ner) bride in the pictures, and to finally wear that dress that shows off your shoulder bones, right?

Once future brides and grooms set their minds to a weight-loss and fitness plan, Fleming says, they are usually successful. Many pick up healthy habits that last a lifetime.

Oh hey, does that mean that:

1. These women have never dieted or heard of calorie-counting before, so the idea of “eat less move more” was completely foreign to them prior to their pre-wedding “boot camp” ritualistic starvation regime,

2. or that “many” never gain the weight back? If so, they’re defying the overwhelming evidence that virtually all people who diet gain the weight back. We need to find these people, and make sure they’re included in the next diet study, because obviously they were missed before! The studies must not have been on anyone who’d convinced themselves they needed to lose weight for a wedding, I guess. Perhaps it’s the whole idea that this is a “wedding,” and you’re now becoming a “bride,” that somehow keeps the weight off, eh?

“It is amazing to me how focused and motivated they become during this frantic, crazy, panicked period in their lives, and it’s the one thing that they stick to,” says Fleming. “If you need to use the wedding day to get you started, that’s OK, but most people continue to work out, feel great, and look back at the pictures and say, ‘Wow, I can do this.'”

Once people start losing weight with the idea that it will improve their looks or self-esteem, it becomes obsessive? I’ve never heard of that phenomenon, before. 😛

Once a couple says their “I dos,” they may be at risk for a honeymoon holdover effect. Research shows that newlyweds gain weight at a faster rate then their single peers.

Oh hey, do you think that might have anything to do with the fact that they, yanno, crash dieted in the months preceding their wedding? Naw! It’s just some weird, coincidental magickry that makes you gain weight faster when you slip that wedding ring on your finger.

“Married people are heavier than people who have never been married,” says researcher Jeffery Sobal, PhD, associate professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University. “They are also somewhat heavier than people who have been previously married, divorced, separated, and widowed.

“Recently married people eat about half or more of their meals together,” he says. “So marriage really is a huge influence on what you eat, its caloric value, nutrient composition, and all of those things.”

What seems to happen, Sobal says, is that newlyweds eat more regularly, and more formally, than they did in their single days.

Gasp! Eating more—hush—regularly! You mean, getting married makes you abandon your single-life, low self-esteem semi-starvation regime you succumbed to because you believed you’d never deserve love unless you strove towards some impossible, airbrushed ideal?

Sobal says his research has shown that when you control for other variables, like age and having children, the “marriage effect” seems to go away to some extent in women while it persists in men.

“It suggests that there is something about being married that makes men slightly, but not hugely, heavier,” says Sobal. He says more long-term studies will be needed to determine the exact nature of this marriage effect on weight.

I dunno, do you think it has anything to do with the fear of being labeled a “heavier ever after” wife? Or having your character and person constantly judged by your fat, because you’re a woman? Or having hate songs written about killing fat wives by popular bands for the crime of getting heavy while married?

Ugh, I’m done with the crap article. This pre-wedding “get in shape for your big day” bullshit is just a cultural ritualization to put the woman/bride in her ‘place,’ in that she has to ‘earn’ her big day by adhering, perhaps even for the first time in her life, to what this society currently deems is the woman’s highest value — her appearance being ‘acceptable’, i.e., thin enough.

The proof, besides the humble digging I do, when the fancy strikes? Check out this study, as reported on by the New York Times.

More than 70 percent of brides-to-be want to lose weight before their wedding day, according to a new study from Cornell University. To reach the perfect wedding-day weight, more than one-third of them use extreme dieting tactics such as diet pills and fasting. And while most of us buy clothes that fit, about one in seven brides-to-be buys a bridal gown that is one or more dress sizes smaller than she normally wears.

Which has been shown, over and over, by not only the brides-to-be I’ve quoted, but in the expectations of “body/beauty/fitness” sections of bridal sites.

Dr. Neighbors found that 91 percent of the women were worried about their weight, reporting that they wanted to lose weight or were actively trying to prevent weight gain. By comparison, national data show that about 62 percent of similarly aged women have the same concerns.

Among the 70 percent of women who were trying to lose weight, the average desired loss was about 21 pounds, not counting three women in the group who were trying to lose more than 100 pounds each.

I think those three women are very significant. Funny that they weren’t counted. Maybe they shouldn’t count the women who wanted to lose only a few pounds each, as well, since there are ways to weight every average. I don’t think they’re abnormal, by any means – on the discussion boards and so forth I’ve perused, I’ve come across more than one woman who wanted to lose more than 100 lbs.

Nearly half the brides-to-be were willing to adopt extreme dieting strategies to reach their goal weight by their wedding day. Among extreme dieters, skipping meals and taking unprescribed diet pills and supplements were reported most frequently. About 10 percent of the women used liquid diets, while a fraction of the women started smoking, took laxatives or induced vomiting in order to lose weight.

Huh. Think they’ll gain the weight back after the wedding, or just gain an ED? Or both?

Since it is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, it’s important to note here that it’s very possible some ED’s have their root in this pre-wedding ritual.

This next paragraph, however, is extremely important: god bless the effing study authors. Nice example of highly educated biological scientists who can’t see the forest for the trees.

The prevalence of extreme dieting behavior among brides-to-be is important because rapid weight loss usually isn’t maintained. But the study authors note that because brides-to-be are highly motivated to lose weight, doctors should use an upcoming wedding as an opportunity to discuss more healthful weight loss and eating behaviors.

Yeah, capitalize on her fear, and her anxiety! Don’t let the ED start on its own, give it a little shove, too! Yeah, that’s exactly what I need when I go for my check-up in the fall. “Oh, lovely ring! You’re engaged?” “Yes, sir.” “Lovely. Then you’re going to be losing some weight, right?”

Ai yai yai.

But wait, there’s more:

At the time of the study, the women were still about six months or more away from their big day. But the average weight loss achieved was already about eight pounds, although the numbers varied widely.

“If these losses were maintained after marriage, they would be significant weight management achievements,’’ the authors noted. “Given the pressures of the wedding and beginning a new life as a couple, engaged women should be encouraged to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle rather than striving for a fleeting number on a scale or a temporary dress size.’’

DESPITE the fact that the authors themselves noted that 50% of the women used “extreme measures” like pills, fasting, liquid diets, and vomiting to attain their “significant weight achievements”?

Funny, I feel a little like vomiting myself, now.

But mostly I feel royally pissed off at this ignorance, in the FACE of such horrifying results. I guess when doctors praise us for losing weight without asking how we did it, they’re just following suit of the biological scientists who write the papers they read. Weight loss at any cost. Let’s use the wedding as an excuse to get those fatty brides thin! And let’s drive them into a panic in order to make sure they don’t gain any weight when they get married, oh no! Vomiting before the wedding? Let’s make vomiting a lifestyle choice, instead of just a ‘temporary solution.’ Indeed! Argh.

Fat Wedding, Part 5: Horror Show

 This is a “pulse-taking” of bridal motivations to lose weight, how much they want to lose in what time-span, and what they say they need to do and why.

I searched for “lose weight wedding” in Google. These are from hits on the first  search resuls page.

43 Things.com – lose weight for the wedding

This is one of those odd “goal sites” where people set goals, and others adopt the goals. The pages of goals are set up in comment-form style, and you get to see the comments of different individuals. I found some very horrifying, self-deprecating, ignorant, infuriatingly hateful comments, as well as some extreme goals.  Here are a smattering of comments, each from different posters.

WE NEED TO MOTIVATE each OTHER!!! I wanna see some progress notes up here… I am 5’4 have an 11 month old baby and I want to – no I WILL loose 40 pounds before my wedding… I weigh 180 now… AND I WANT TO BE HEALTHY FOR MY WEDDING AND MY HONEYMOON… The BMI scale says I’m OBESE! I’m marrying the man of my dreams and I want him to be proud and giddy to have me on his arm!

This is the showcase piece of my whole post, I’m thinking. It epitomizes what I’ve been observing about weight and its relationship to earning one’s “big day.” She equates losing 40 lbs after pregnancy to being “healthy,” disgusted that the “BMI scales says I’m OBESE!” (which we’ve been taught to think, via bullshit science and media scare-tactics, equals “unhealthy”). The last sentence is just really, really sad. Will the man of her “dreams” be less proud if his new wife and likely mother of his new child is 40 lbs “overweight”? Will she deserve to marry him less?

This next poor lady, who wants to lose 90 lbs, is definitely buying into the moral value argument tie-in to marriage.

I have a while to go before my Sept. 2008 wedding but I’m starting my weight loss now! I’m around 230 and want to get back to my high school weight of 140.

One of my dreams is to make him cry when he sees me! He always tell me how beautiful I am, I want to take it to the extreme for my wedding day. I want to see a tear or two roll down his cheek! 🙂

I’m not doing anything special to lose weight but working out & trying to eat right. Any suggestions or ideas to keep me on the right track?

90 lbs is definitely quite extreme. I’d say she’s doing exactly right to work out and try to eat right. Unfortunately, that’s not going to make her lose 90 lbs. And that is absolutely okay! Will your groom love you more if you walk down the aisle 90 lbs lighter? Have women, in our culture, really internalized the connection between weight and worthiness of love to that extent?

This next one makes me feel sick to my stomach. It feels…really wrong somehow. Thinperior tone. Ugh. It really drives home the point that the wedding day isn’t about “getting healthy” but losing weight (even though it seemed she had to do so by accident).

I was already small but I had bought a UK size 6 wedding dress as I’d ordered it from US and I was confused about the sizes so I ordered it too small!! Left it till the last minute to lose weight, I lost about 9lbs in 2 weeks!! Not the healthiest way to go about it but at least I looked good in the dress!!! haha

This one is very sad:

I’m getting married March 18th and just put my dress on last night to get it altered and it’s TOO small! I’m busting out of it. I thought I was going to cry. So I have 3 weeks to lose as much weight as possible. Today I’m fasting, well, liquids only. I want to shrink my stomach so I will fill up faster when I start eating again tomorrow. Starting tomorrow I’m going to do the no carb diet and then 10 days before the wedding I’m going to do this: http://www.healthynewage.com/lose-10-pounds.html. I’ll let you know how it goes. Wish me luck and let me know if you have any advice!

So much for “health.”  Just pay for the alteration, it’s better than destroying your body for the last few weeks before your wedding, which you’ll get through in a starved, sick fog.

Well, I read the entries so far and I get the sense we are all in the same boat. I really don’t want to be a heavy bride, I want to feel like a “woman” and love what I look like and forever be proud of my wedding pictures. Well at 236 pounds and 5 feet 1 inches – there is no way I will come near achieving any of that. I’m getting married in July 2007… I know that seems pretty far away but to lose 100 pounds, without surgery, I am going to need 18 months. I know the only way to do this is to diligently count my calories everyday and to get into a committed exercise regimine. One day at a time, but today, it just seems like so much work is going to have to happen to have my goals met. I simply doubt myself that I can do this. But I am willing to try…. and I need some support.

So fat females aren’t “women”? Fat brides aren’t “women”? The only way you’ll be “proud” of your wedding photos is if they feature an acceptably thin bride? The ceremony, the decorations, your groom, the wedding party, the church, the reception, the guests, those photos won’t make you proud, only if they feature a bride with razor-sharp collarbones?

My brain hurts.

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.

Resolutions for Life – Part 3

Okay, TheWeddingChannel.com, you’ve pissed me off.

Please see this page for reference.

I know that Part 2 focused on their “Beauty List,” but after reading the above article I felt so indignant I had to make them Part 3, as well. Damn, even Brides.com didn’t go as far as these assholes. Playing on the anxiety of brides-to-be, feeding them myths and stereotypes, and then claiming that ‘shaping up’ is some kind of ritualized training to be a wife, makes me sick, and MUST be exposed here, so everyone can smell their shit-and-baloney.

The Basics
The formula for weight loss is a simple one: Calories burned must exceed calories consumed.

Bingo!

So it makes sense that the best way to begin your new lifestyle is by shaping up your diet.

Oh hey, you’ve convinced me. What a simple formula, it’s just a wonder EVERYONE isn’t thin!

To keep your energy level high enough to plan your wedding, choose a safe, healthy eating plan that targets a loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week, which, for most of us, means consuming about 1200 calories a day.

…despite the fact that Ansel Keyes’ Starvation Study showed that there is significant psychological and physical symptoms of starvation at just 1600 calories a day, and these brilliant morons want you to restrict to 1200! Huh, I wonder if your energy level is going to be high enough to “plan your wedding” (which apparently is your only function as a bride-to-be, and the only thing you have to worry about having enough energy for).

If you have a significant amount of weight to lose before the wedding — say 20 pounds — you’ll need to start your diet between 5 and 6 months before the big day.

…despite the Starvation Study being 1600 cal/day for 3 months, with all the bad side effects.

But because you want to lose fat weight — not just body weight — keeping your calorie intake hovering at 1200 isn’t your only concern. Here’s why: According to fitness expert William D. McArdle, PhD and Professor Emeritus at the Department of Family, Nutrition and Exercise Science at Queens College at CUNY, when you diet without exercising, your body uses lean muscle mass for energy.

…a starving body starts eating itself. Shouldn’t that be worrisome enough? Why would you want to starve yourself to the point where your body starts to want to consume your muscle mass? Gods!

But if you add exercise to your daily routine, your body will turn to those pesky fat stores for fuel.

…ew, PESKY JIGGLY ICKY FAT OMG! It’s not like body fat serves, yanno, a purpose. Like ensuring you don’t fucking starve to death, and giving you the energy to live NORMALLY.

<<snip>>

So to trim your arms, abs, and buns, you’ve got to start with a program that benefits your whole body, not just the areas your wedding dress emphasizes.

I like how any sort of weight loss is automatically associated with “benefiting” your body. God, our society is sick!

Feeding Your Workout
Once you’ve begun your workout routine, you may feel that such sweat and strain entitles you to a big burger with the works and a giant order of fries. Don’t be fooled. Remember, the key to weight loss is to expend more calories than you consume, so if you’ve upped exercise only to up calorie intake, you won’t get the results you’re looking for.

…which is to starve starve starve the jiggle away, and make those collarbones really POP! And while we’re on the subject, I’m glad they’ve finally discovered the “key to weight loss.” They’ll surely make millions, and everyone will automatically become slim.

In fact, when you get regular exercise, you need to be even more vigilant about what you eat. Your body, having become a more efficient machine, relies on the vitamins and minerals found in healthy food to fuel itself and develop muscle and lean tissue. In addition to lean meats and dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, add a multivitamin to your daily diet to make certain you get the nutrients you need.

…Eating multivitamins in place of food which contains those vitamins is one of the first steps towards an eating disorder.

And now the kicker, from which I derived the title of this post:

Resolutions for Life
Once you’ve begun your healthy diet and exercise plan,

…1200 calories a day is healthy?? Exercising until you drop, ignoring your body’s need for fuel is healthy??? What fucking PLANET are you living on?

there’s one big challenge left: Sticking to your guns.

I think the bigger challenge is: Not dropping dead.

And not just until your wedding day. The key to long-term weight loss is making healthy eating and fitness part of your lifestyle forever.

…until death from starvation do us part!

So, why not start your marriage out right by dedicating yourself to a sensible diet and active lifestyle?

…unlike the diet and activity mentioned here

(If you can involve your spouse in this effort, so much the better.)

Yeah, get Fatty McGroom on the Guilt Wagon!

This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever enjoy food or indulge yourself once in a while.

…yeah, you can enjoy food once or twice a year if you exercise twice as hard the next day.

However, you’ll want to avoid reverting to unhealthy eating habits and regaining the weight you’ll have worked so hard to lose.

Why? Why will they want that? What if they get pregnant? What if they have a change in their life and can’t obsess about food anymore as their primary concern, and spend two hours a day in the gym? What if they, like 95%-98% of ALL DIETERS, regain the weight in 5 years? Then what? Their life is going to end? They’re going to magically catch TEH DIABEETUS from their fat? They’re going to be a worse wife? A worse mother? A worse person? They should be ashamed? They should give up all their hobbies, interests, scholarships, talents, family interests, because they live by your fucking disordered, starvation-standards of bone-thin beauty??

If you find it hard to stay motivated on your own — and most people do — consider seeking out a weight loss organization for advice and support.

…oh yeah, feed the coffers of the bloated weight loss industry, which likely is funding this article in some way. Yeah, they’re SO successful…that’s why everyone is TEH SKINNY!

If you take “weight loss for life” seriously, you’ll feel as good about yourself on your 20th anniversary as you will on your wedding day!

Yeah, starving, tired, beaten-up, low-esteemed, anxious, obsessed, and tortured.

Answers to All My Wedding Questions! – Part 2

TheWeddingChannel.com

Disclaimer: to get a sense of TheWeddingChannel’s approach to “bridal fitness,” take a gander at this page, which features the timeless introductory anecdote: “They’re coming. Somewhere on the planning calendar between This Engagement Party and That Bridal Shower, fittings for that big, dreamy dress will be scheduled. And if you’re like most brides, you’d much rather the seams of your wedding gown be taken in, rather than be let out.”

Of course. Because there’s nothing more embarrassing, humiliating, and demoralizing than growing disgusting fat on your body, is there? And you know, if you don’t starve starve starve run run run, you’ll get ICKY OMG FAT!

Welcome to the second in my pre-wedding, ritualized bridal masochism series! Today, we look at the “Beauty” page on www.theweddingchannel.com.

And on this beauty page, brides-to-be, they’ve generously gone ahead and answered all the burning, necessary questions any bride in her right mind MUST ASK before “her big day”!!

Beauty
Can your beauty style reflect your personality?

Wow, what a concept! I was certain I was supposed to merely mimic the most popular style at the moment, regardless of unimportant things as what I actually like or dislike.

Which beauty treatments are most popular with brides?

Oh, there we go. Guess it’s not about personality at all, is it?

How can you keep your perfume from fading?

No shit, I need this stuff to keep knocking out Mr. Groom all night. Mmm, loganberry!

What is a beauty consultation? Do you need one?

Do I need one? You mean, do I go against the current, like myself and the way I look, and try often not to conform to the current societal idea of beauty?

Is there a bridal style that will never look outdated?

Wait, TheWeddingChannel can predict the future?!

Can you improve your complexion before the wedding?

Not “should you,” or “do you want to,” but “can” you? Cuz, yanno, you’re never good enough. Stress, worry, and improve! Stress, worry, and improve! And, above all, don’t actually enjoy your engagement. Earning “your big day” is hard work, missy. Do you really think you have the right to get married with bad skin?

What are the most common beauty emergencies?

I have the feeling this link is mostly about popping and/or hiding zits, but I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

Is there a sensible exercise program for brides?

You know, since every bride has to earn “her big day” by obsessive exercise with the main goal of losing weight and/or invisibly “toning” “problem areas” so that she can “look good on her big day.”

Can you do your makeup without a professional?

Oh for Christ, what are we, twelve?

How can you fit exercise into a busy schedule?

Again, hamster meet wheel.

What are the current tooth-whitening options?

Tooth-whitening is important for brides-to-be, since they’re diet consists mainly of frozen diet dinners and low-fat lattes, the latter which stains one’s teeth. Also, if you really want to earn “your big day,” taking up smoking can be an effective way to “lose the weight.” No health hazard is as bad as jiggling down the aisle. Women aren’t supposed to jiggle.

Should you tone up your arms for a sleeveless gown?

Yeah, what are the ‘experts’ going to say to this one…no? You should just proudly display your cellulite and your flabby underarms to the world? Dammit, what did I say about earning “your big day”?? Get to work, you flabby freak! You have to starve, sweat, and muscle-build to earn “your big day.” It’s not like you can get it for free. Mr. Groom shouldn’t have to marry the girl he proposed to…he’s expecting version 2, post-starvation, beach-cruise-tanned-and-toned Mrs. Groom! And you daren’t gain any weight after “your big day,” either, or he might write to Dan Savage seeking moral support for wanting to cheat on your with that skinny blonde woman at work (heck, it’s not his fault you “decided to get fat.”).

How can you make sure your makeup lasts all day?

Spray paint?

Can you achieve a natural-looking tan without the sun?

Spray paint?

What colors complement an ivory skin tone?

Scanning down the list, I see this is way above the other skin tones, for some reason. Uh, wow. I mean, if these are mostly white chicks checking out the site, fine, whatever, but wouldn’t they know what colors complement their skin tone (ivory or no), from, I dunno, a lifetime of living in it?

Is there a safe way to slim down for your wedding gown?

Again, not “should I” or even “I want to, is there a safe way” to slim down, just the natural expectation that brides need to starve starve starve to wear those couture dresses that are paraded on bone-racks of unmarried teenagers. And furthermore, why don’t you just buy a fucking dress that fits YOU instead of torturing your body to fit IT?

How can makeup flatter an olive complexion?

Oh hey, another skin complexion! This one is further down the list, signifying its minority status. Sigh.

For a dark complexion, which colors look best?

I don’t get it, why weren’t these up near the “nearly-transparent ivory” tone?

What are the benefits of hiring a personal trainer?

Because, yanno, you have to “lose the weight” else not earn “your big day”! Besides that personal trainers are slavedrivers that shame you and hold you to your stated “goal” weight even when you’re dying of starvation, bedraggled, anxious, hating yourself, and hating your engagement? Even when your body is cuing you like mad to stop torturing yourself and eat something, rest, and enjoy? Yeah, a personal trainer doesn’t have your body, so they won’t know its cues. Therefore, when you no longer want to push yourself (a survival reaction from a tortured, sick, starving body), a personal trainer won’t care, labeling you simply as a number on a scale.

What foods will keep you healthy and energized?

Listen to your body, it knows! Oh, know, you mean low-calorie, high-fiber, low-fat, low-sugar, right? D’oh! *facepalm*

When should you start a bridal beauty routine?

Huh? It’s a routine? Then doesn’t that mean it doesn’t start, it just exists…since it’s a routine?

For combination skin, which products are best?

Spray paint?

What types of makeup photograph beautifully?

Spray paint?

Is there a way to test makeup before buying it?

PLZ

How soon before the wedding should you wax?

Holy god, they’re unleashing EVERY FUCKING FEMALE SELF-TORTURE RITUAL EVER CONCOCTED! I’m surprised they don’t ask if you should douche before the wedding night.

Getting Married? How Are You Planning to Lose Weight Before Your Big Day? – Part 1

I got engaged this Christmas, and I’m fat. You might wonder what the connection is (beyond a trollish, “Heh, you mean fattie mcfatfat actually got a MAN NO WAY!!”).

But as anyone who has entered this phase in her life and as much glanced at bridal magazines on the rack would know, there’s significant pressure to lose weight before one’s wedding, pretty much regardless of how much you weigh when you get engaged.

This pressure is unusually severe. Sure, there’s diet-talk and body-deprecatory ads and features in every women’s magazine, but it’s usually phrased in terms of “Want to lose X lbs? Here’s the magic permanent trick that takes no effort and is NOT starvation, drugs, or obsessive exercise…”

But bridal magazines step that anti-fattie babble up a notch. They say you HAVE to lose weight; as the screenshot from Brides.com says to promote its messageboard section and weight-loss thread, “How are you planning to lose weight before your big day?”

Brides.com screenshot

No questions of whether you want to lose the weight, can lose weight healthily, or even believe you need to based on whatever hocus-pocus diet myths you’ve accepted. Just, “How are you planning to lose weight…?”

The body deprecation begins.

Being fat, then, is closely tied in with being engaged. Because, you see, all my friends and relatives who’ve imbibed the Obesity Epidemic KoolAid will expect me to try to lose weight before “my big day.” I don’t even think the expectation is dramatic weight loss, just knowing that I’ve started my juice-and-lettuce-after-four-hours-on-the-treadmill diet. Like it’s some cultural right-of-passage I’m expected to participate in, or else I do not ‘earn’ my wedding day, somehow.

Of course, this pisses me off. I’m reasonably new to fat acceptance; it was only last July I read Gina Kolata’s “Rethinking Thin.” Before that, I was a KoolAid drinker myself, a recovering anorexic-dieter, exercise obsessor, bulimic wannabe (I could never make myself throw up, not for lack of trying). I’m trying very, very hard to accept my body and learn to love myself for who I am, and for who my family largely is — well, large. And that’s okay.

So I decided to channel this pissed-off energy into recording how wide-spread this pre-wedding bridal ritual starvation expectation really is, and how it isn’t just about looking good in photo, it’s some kind of cultural right-of-passage. It’s like a kind of religious fasting, which is supposed to make us feel like we’ve really ‘earned’ our big day (with the natural assumption that if we decide not to diet before our wedding day, we’re some kind of lazy, worthless person whom shouldn’t be married).

For part one: Brides.com, the first hit on my Google search of “wedding bride.”

Brides.com

This one was easy. Right on the front page there were three “features” categories: “real weddings,” “local features,” and “community” (a message board). See the above screenshot for the “community” view, and read the poster’s featured quote.

Yeah, uh, 50 lbs before the wedding. Do either of you know you’re going to gain it back in 5 years? Will the husband claim his wife “let herself go” since she, a few years after the wedding, can no longer fit in her wedding dress? (of course, even though the poster wants them to both lose weight, I don’t know how stringent the expectations are on the groom’s side)

I wonder if Memememe Roth, in her “Wedding Gown Challenge,” takes into account how many brides fasted, losing 10, 20, 30+ lbs in before their wedding day? Does gaining back the weight lost count as “letting oneself go,” especially if you just happen to go back to what you were before the pre-wedding weight loss (plus 10%, of course)? Sigh.

But now, for the worst of it…a name that plays on the vanity, fear, and anticipation of most brides-to-be:

VOW TO WOW!

I decided to enter the “community” section of the Brides.com site, in order to discover what horrifying myths were being propagated on these poor women, and what their expectations were. I found a forum and an entire section of the site called “Vow to Wow Body Makeover.”

Some of the sad thread titles on the first page are:

ATKINS!!,” “FH won’t support me getting in shape,” “Why wont the weight come off????,” “Medifast anyone?,” “I’m scared, I don’t think I can accomplish my goal,” “Anyone on WW?,” “Lost weight with nutritionist, organic foods and gym,” “gaining weight,” (which is actually about a woman who thinks she’s too thin…guess no one is happy with their body-image if they’re getting married. Is that part of the ritual?)

Some misinformed, sometimes virulent gems (please don’t read if you get triggered easily, some of these are difficult):

“one of my friends[…]weighs about 95 lbs. and her doctor told her that it is because she eats junk food…when she eats junk food she loses weight, therefore she has to eat healthy food to gain weight…kind of like fat ppl have to eat healthy to lose weight…lol…!! Just the exact opposite!” [Nice bit of fat-hate there, especially with the mocking ‘lol’]

Ok, well, here I sit. 180lbs. I have gained 50 lbs in the 5 years that fh and I have been together. At this rate, I will be almost 200lbs by the time we get married. I have GOT to fix this! It’s over whelming. I’m so uncomfortable all the time! My clothes are all too tight, and I just want to crawl under a ROCK! I feel like crap about myself all the time, and I just don’t understand why I can’t get healthy!…My fh and I have decided to try the south beach diet again. We started it once about 2 years ago, and I lost 7 lbs the first 2 weeks, but then I got lazy and slacked off. Wish me luck, guys!”

Same poster, later: “fh loves me and would be totally happy with me if I never lost a pound, but I hate myself right now. For letting myself go like this! It’s just unbelievable to be that I’ve gained so much weight!!! I weight less when I was 9 months pregnant and that was 11 years ago!!!” [note the progressively lengthening strings of exclamation points, as the KoolAid puts her into a panic-stricken fervor]

And finally: “We just want to be heathly and happy and set good examples for our children!” [ugh. So having terrible body image and starving yourself in order to achieve an impossible ideal just because you’re GETTING MARRIED OMG is a good example?”]

“Last year FH and I just decided to stop eating like pigs, so we cleaned out our kitchen of food and went shopping for new stuff, and watched the portions. I ate preeettyy much whatever I wanted but I counted calories – to me, a calorie is a calorie, wherever it comes from. I allowed myself about 1200 calories a day, plus 10 minutes a day on an elliptical. In 5 months I had lost 35 pounds, FH lost 50, and I was in a bikini on our cruise that summer.” [Note: So eating more than 1200 calories a day is eating like a pig? No wonder you lost 35 pounds in 5 months…you starved yourself. See the Starvation Study]

“My advice to you is that you can only lose weight if you are 100% motivated to do it for YOURSELF – not for anyone else.” [It’s as simple as that!]

“I’m newly engaged (as of Christmas eve!) and want to lose 40-50 lbs by our wedding in early 2010. I had a baby in March of 2007 so I have baby weight plus weight I had before I ever got pregnant 🙂 The fiance gained 60 lbs since we started dating 7 yrs ago and I think he finally realized it and wants to get healthy too.” [that KoolAid is really healthy, apparently. Too bad the facts don’t support the “health” argument of “thinner is the winner”]

“i posted the “i’m scared” thread, and man it’s difficult adjusting to the vow to wow menu b/c it’s so much less calories!! and it’s not the way i eat at all. but maybe that’s why i am 15 lbs overweight and gaining all the time! ” [after the obligatory site registration, I discovered the “Vow to Wow” plan is 1,500-calories/day (below the 1,600 cal/day Starvation Study limit referenced above). Also, here’s a nice quote from the “Strength Training” page of the program: “For most brides, having a toned body is crucial for their walk down the aisle..” Zah??]

“I started Jenny Craig in September and have lost about 30 lbs. I still have about 40 lbs to go, well..if I get what I want.” [Like the fulfillment of your Fantasy of Being Thin?]

“Hey congrats and don’t worry – you have tons of time to get to the healthy person you want to be.” [healthy = weight loss. Is someone making another Fat Hate Bingo out there?]

Is any of you out there having the same problem? I have been exercising and dieting for about a month- a month and a half and got weighed the other day and realized that I have gained 5 lbs in the last month. I dont know what is up with that. I am getting married September 20, 2008 and I am trying to have lost 30 pounds by then! Any suggestions?” [have you been starving yourself at the federally-mandated lower safe limit of 1,200 calories/day?]

“I am getting married in april and i want to lose a couple of lbs and i have been exercising good since Oct and i dont see any weight coming off either. Has anyone tried those Alli pills? do you think they work?” [oh, horrors, that poor woman…just a few pounds? God, take it to the bank and love yourself for who you are, and enjoy the last months before your wedding!]

This one makes me really, really sad, because this woman has come very near to the truth and she’s acting like it doesn’t/shouldn’t apply to her: “I have a little problem with fluctuating weight. It is frustrating because it puts me between 2 sizes and so I feel like I have to have twice as many clothes and I just wish I could stay down in the lower size. Anyhow, I’d like to think I’m a pretty healthy person. I have a great cardio and lifting routine, FH and I rarely eat out. So I didn’t really get it. I started to do some research on this and found this book “Rethinking Thin”. Basically it talks about how genetics plays into what your body is designed to be. Each of us kind of has a preset weight range, and once you get to the limits of that range, your body tries to keep you in it. This is why you might be doing great and losing weight with a certain routine/diet and then all of the sudden it seems like it stops working. Anyhow, I don’t mean to go on about this and I don’t think we should look at it as an excuse for the way we are. Just because my parents are bigger doesn’t mean that I have to be, but I do have to recognize that I may have a harder time trying to look how I want to. I definitely recommend that we all take a healthy outlook on life, and not just think about being thin. Because in the end, I am not a happier person if I have to give up ALL chocolate just to stay in the smaller size. Hope this makes sense and good luck to you all!” [I’ll let this one speak for itself. Sigh.]

This is it for the first part of my bridal starvation ritual exposition. Thanks to the very first bridal site I looked at for giving me so much sad material. I hope these women can enjoy the lead up to and their wedding day, without being weak, starved, and hating their bodies.