Wedding weight loss: fighting pressure to lose weight for your wedding

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How to deal pressure to lose weight for your wedding

I am not a skinny girl, and I have been trying to justify loving myself as I am, feeling beautiful in the body I have and trying to accept my body no matter what size. My boyfriend (who wants to propose this year) loves me the way I am, and I love him the way he is. But I have serious anxieties about my mother scrutinizing my weight all through the engagement processโ€ฆ “No wedding dresses are going to look attractive on you if you don't lose a good XX pounds!” “MOM!” “Well, it's true.”

If my mother criticizes me and doesn't stop, how do I deal with it? How do I tell her to back off without pissing her off or giving her a brush-off answer? -Sarah

Hoo boy.

We all know that weight loss is a hot button issue in women's publications, and it's one we normally avoid on Offbeat Bride. We avoid it not because it isn't important, but because it's incredibly pervasive and talked about everywhere — and I don't think it should be tied to wedding planning.

As we said in the Code of Conduct of the old Offbeat Bride Tribe forum:

No weight-loss/negative body image talk

This is a touchy subject, and without a doubt our most controversial rule: The Tribe is not the place to talk about weight loss, or negative body image. Too many wedding communities are overtaken by unhealthy, triggering discussions, and our aim on the Tribe is to promote positive attitudes of self-acceptance.

We are about celebrating all body shapes, sizes, and abilities, and encourage our members to find ways not to snark or talk negatively about their own bodies. We discourage insulting anyone's body — and includes your own!

I am all for making the decision to lose weight — but strongly believe the decision should NOT have anything to do with A) wedding planning, or B) pressure from others, even family members who love you.

That said, I do have two potential communication strategies for how you could handle this situation with your mother.

The quick boundary with wedding weight loss pressure

The next time the issue comes up, simply tell your mother “It means so much to me that you care so much about me. That said, I hope you can respect that I've put a lot of thought into this issue, and honor the fact that I've made a different decision than you might. Please trust my ability to make choices about my body that work best for me. I don't want to talk about this any more.”

If she presses the issue, make the line very clear: “Again, I really appreciate that this means so much to you, but I've told you where I stand on the issue. If you bring it up again, I'm going to have to end this conversation.”

If she pushes it again, try this: reach out and hold her hand in yours (if that feels right), look into her eyes and say, “I love you, and I'm done talking about this.” Then get up, and walk the fuck away.

Lather, rinse, and repeat as the issue comes up. I know it feels harsh (โ€ฆwalk away?) but really all you're doing is articulating that A) you love her, B) you hear her, C) you're clear about where you stand on the issue, and willing to draw very clear boundaries around talking about it.

plus size gold gown by kmkdesigns on offbeat bride alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
This glorious Sun Goddess dress is by KMKDesigns

The longer discussion about wedding weight loss

Ok, so maybe you want to use this as an opportunity to have a longer discussion about the issue. That's awesome, if you've got the energy for it. (I'm not sure I would, if I were in the thick of wedding planning.)

Here are the conversation tools I'd use:

  • First, recognize that your mother is coming from a place of concern — however misguided it may be. She wants you to look pretty and feel good and be healthy — all things you likely want too (even if you disagree with how to get there). Frame all conversations around recognizing this common ground.
  • Pick a few of your favorite self-identified plus-size brides from our site to show your mother. Show her clear examples of how beautiful and happy brides of ALL sizes look on their wedding days.
  • Talk about the feelings that come up for you when she talks about weight loss and your wedding. Does it make you feel like she doesn't support you? Does it bring up feelings of fear around her being disappointed in you? Avoid blame (“You make me feel sad!”), but articulate the emotions that come up after these conversations.
  • Share the process you've gone through to get to the place of body positivity. Tell her about what makes you feel confident and good in your body. Give her clear ideas about how she could contribute to those feelings.
  • Read together — print out a few posts from our body image archive, and talk over what you relate to there, and what you disagree with. I also highly recommend the Fat Bride Survival Guide.

I'd love to hear from brides who've dealt with this issue: how do you deal with pressure from family? I want to be very, VERY clear here: I'm not interested in hearing about whether anyone should or should not lose weight for their wedding. That's a personal decision, and not one that people on the internet have any place telling you how to make.

What I want to hear from y'all about is this: if someone has made the decision NOT to lose weight, how can they constructively deal with pressure from friends, families, or vendors?

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Comments on Wedding weight loss: fighting pressure to lose weight for your wedding

  1. Size never matters- it is how you live that matters. Are you happy? Are you healthy as you can be? Do you make others happy? Then who cares about anything more?!?

    There are dresses and designs out there for any body type and shape, find one that looks good on you in the way that makes you FEEL great about yourself and that is all you need!

    My husband and I did lose weight for ours, but not because of the wedding– we both went on a health spree and have mostly maintained it– our choice and the timing happened to line up (engaged for over a year and make a New Year’s goal simply to get healthy and fit). It was surprising how many calories juice was! Small changes for us and a daily walk together (also to relieve wedding planning stress) was all we changed. The week before I did get so nervous I barely ate…

    I have friends who did not lose any for their wedding- they fell in love with each other as is. Simple as that. In fact, I believe one of my friends’s words to her mother were “I do not need to change myself for him to love me, so why change myself when we declare our love to the world?”

    • “I do not need to change myself for him to love me, so why change myself when we declare our love to the world?” – this is so true! And something definitely worth bearing in mind.

    • Rock on, I totally agree with you! The decision to lose or not to lose weight should really come from YOU, not from any outside forces. Do it to feel good for YOU, not to fit some unrealistic magazine aesthetic.

      I truly relate to this and could have written this letter word for word…literally. I was always very waifish, about a size petite 0 (as in, less than a size 0, even). Like most women, once I entered my 30s my metabolism slowed and I started gaining weight. Now I tend to fluctuate between a size 2 and size 4.

      According to my mother I’m now a fat ugly mess. I was unbelievably hurt when I overheard my mother and my aunt talking about me at my rehearsal dinner, saying how fat I’ve gotten and how much it pains my mother to look at me. Mind you, this was while I was wearing a size 2 dress! (and it was a beautiful one too, by Carmen Marc Valvo–and my husband loved the way I looked in it)

      Well my husband would have none of that talk. He gently but firmly told them that he thinks I’m beautiful–and that if anything, I’m thin! That shut them up really quickly.

      I tell this story to show how some people will just NEVER think you’re thin enough, or will always have unrealistic expectations–where even a size 2 is “plus” size. There’s no point in trying to always meet other people’s expectations because some are just impossible to meet. Sorry I couldn’t defy nature and be a size sub-0 forever!

      I will say that on the wedding day, I never looked or felt more beautiful. I seriously don’t care if my mother and/or aunt thought I looked fat. My husband beamed as I came down the aisle and one of my friends told me later that his jaw DROPPED when he first saw me! When he took my hands into his, and I saw that look in his eyes…I no longer cared about my dress size or any other such stupid, irrelevant things. All I cared about was that I finally met my soulmate, and was about to embark on an amazing life journey with him.

      He has given me really good advice to not let that sort of talk affect me so much. No, none of us can change other people or what their expectations are. However, we can change how we respond to that. I have firmly made up my mind to just let that chatter go in one ear and out the other. No one else thinks I’m fat and everyone else thought I looked absolutely beautiful on the wedding day…and no, I can’t believe everyone else is all wrong or crazy and my mother is the only one who’s right. ๐Ÿ™‚

      We’re all adults here and dealing with the pressure starts within us…and with the decision to seek internal validation, not external validation.

    • Wow, this is a really wonderful resource and SO relevant to Sarah’s question!

      I have a way that I insist upon being treated. If you can’t live up to that then you just don’t get to be in my life and it doesn’t matter if you’re the mailman or my father. I give people clear information, and several chances, but I don’t keep anybody in my life who consistently fails to treat to me with the level of respect that I require.

      Highly recommended reading:

        • Seriously! I’m going to keep this in mind when I have to deal with difficult people everywhere!

      • This IS fantastic! I have always found that remembering this excellent point helps me deal with the judgments of others:

        “As with so many situations where people lash out at you, remember that this is about their issues and has nothing to do with you.”

        In any situation where anyone says anything to you about your body, it’s ALWAYS about them and their issues and NOT you!

        • It’s ridiculous how true this is. Honestly, I feel like (especially in weight-obsessed situations) it could be helpful to turn the conversation around from your mom being all “you are chunking up a bit, be careful about eating that ice cream!” to “Mom, why are you so insecure about my body? Are you or were you insecure in yours? I’m sorry you feel such passion over this, I hope I can help you learn to love all body types, and especially your own body.” Definitely have a friend whose mom needs to hear that.

  2. I’m not plus size, but I’m not skinny either. I was hit very hard while wedding planning to become much, much thinner.

    Honestly, so long as you are healthy and taking care of yourself (a good idea in general) I don’t see how I matters one bit what size you are. I’m no size six but I stay active and eat a balanced diet and my doctor says I’m doing fine. Not everyone has to look like a supermodel.

  3. I was a plus size bride just last October (and featured on OBB cuz you’re awesome!). My family never pressured me about my weight, but one of my best friends did. She continued to tell me I didn’t look good in the dresses I was picking out and made me feel very self conscious about everything. In my case, I ended up not talking to her about my wedding anymore in order to avoid the comments.

    With family members, that’s obviously a bit more difficult. Personally, I would just say that I feel comfortable and know I look beautiful and that’s what matters. Who cares what everyone else thinks? You and your future hubby are what matter most. As long as he thinks you’re gorgeous, and you’re feeling awesome, that’s all that matters. If you keep telling yourself that, you can get through it.

  4. 1st of all, congrads on the impending engagement.

    2nd of all, and I will quote my aunt on this…

    “You are a strong, independent, and beautiful young woman. No matter what you do in your life, hold your head high. Some people, though well meaning, will try to bring you down. But don’t you dare let them for a moment. You. Are. Beautiful.”

    On the end note, do some independent dress research. Learn what looks good on you, and what doesn’t. Thankfully, prom dresses are being marked down and homecoming dresses are coming out, so find a store, grab a few and try them on. Learn what accentuates your body best before you walk into any store. And who knows, you might find the perfect style for your body shape.

    Now, I’m going to hop on my bike and off my high horse. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I just spend like, 20 mins trying to find your comment! (I read it before, lost it, finally found it again..) You’re aunt is a freakin superstar!! This is the best quote ever and I’m going to steal it, memorize it, and bloody well use it ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I’m getting married in 2 months and have faced what Sarah is going through. My mother was the one to plant the seed, and then my head took over and I considered crash dieting. However, the more involved I got with wedding planning, the less I concerned myself with what people think about me. I KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT ME, and that’s what matters.

    My mother is still very involved in my wedding, but she has also taken a back seat without much interference from me. I think our turning point was when she saw me eating a slice of chocolate cake at a family gathering. She asked, “I thought you were trying to ‘cut back’ on things like that?” I retorted, “…Don’t remember saying that. My dress fits just fine, and this is my treat for today!” Nom omnom… I’m guessing she realized since I wasn’t stressing over my weight, she shouldn’t, either.

    I also don’t think any bride should have to put up with criticism from vendors. Weddings are a HUGE business, so there are a lot of options for us plus-sized brides (yay!). In saying that, always always always choose a bridal shop that carries sample dresses in plus sizes; if they carry 2’s and 10’s only, what fair shot do you have of trying on a gown that looks and FEELS right on you? When a consultant tried to squeeze me in to a size 14 dress, I laughed and told her to find me something similar in my size, 24. (I was nice about it, of course!) Don’t be afraid to ask. People are there to make money and cater to YOU– you are the bride, of course!

    What matters most is knowing who you are and why your hubby-to-be is in love with you. Maybe it’s your brains and your butt… but whatever it may be, he put a ring on your finger and made the biggest decision of his life to be with you until his dying day. (*swoon*)
    Thinking of your wedding in a bigger picture like that makes every other worry seem so very small…

  6. The biggest place where I faced “misguided concern” about my weight was in dress shopping – both from loved ones and vendors. (That oh so subtle “what diet are you going on?” “um none”)I ended up just having to be choosey about who could come dress shopping with me, which ended up being just me and my husband. In fact I ended up only going to two wedding dress shops, just to see what silhouettes I liked. Then I hired a seamstress to make my dress. It was less expensive, exactly what I wanted, and I didn’t have to deal with other people taking issue with my size. You’re a beautiful woman! Your partner loves you and at the end of the day that’s what you’re celebrating. (Congrats on the upcoming engagement!)

  7. My mom’s the type who occasionally made what she thought were “helpful” comments about my body size in a pleasant yet intrusive way (“That skirt looks a little tight on you!” “That dress makes you look hippy.”). You know. The well-meaning nagger.

    She recently asked me (post-wedding) why I didn’t try doing more exercises to reduce the size of my hips and thighs (a quite curvy part of my body that I inherited, interestingly, directly from her).

    I looked at her and calmly but firmly said something along the lines of: “I am well aware of what my body looks like. I need you to not talk to me about this anymore. I don’t talk to you about your body. My body is not any of your business, only mine, so please don’t bring it up again.”

    She looked a little surprised, but she hasn’t actually said anything about my body again since then. I think realizing that my body is only my business, not hers, sank in.

    I really do believe that reminding people that your body is private property that is not up for public speculation can really help. It can seem SO obvious, but apparently people need a reminder that other people’s bodies are not public property!

    If it’s a loved one, you may need to have several conversations along these lines so that things can really sink in. But if it’s a vendor, chances are you’ll never have to see him/her again after the wedding, so remember that you won’t have to deal with them for very long.

    And if a vendor is REALLY being a jerk who won’t understand where you’re coming from, you can always choose to take your business elsewhere and let them know exactly why you are doing so: “Your judgmental comments/attitudes about a person’s body size are unacceptable to me, so I’m leaving.”

    It always helps to remember that you’re marrying or partnered with someone who KNOWS you’re hot as hell regardless of your size!

    In conclusion, there is a dress/garment for EVERY body shape and size and you will look and feel gorgeous when you find that special garment. Conventional wisdom said I shouldn’t wear a fitted trumpet dress because of my body shape and my weight. Guess what? I wore a fitted trumpet dress (in purple!) and looked absolutely bangin’. Breaking the rules rocks.

    • “I am well aware of what my body looks like. I need you to not talk to me about this anymore. I don’t talk to you about your body. My body is not any of your business, only mine, so please don’t bring it up again.”

      This is most excellent.

      I like Ariel’s suggested response as well and it all goes to personality type. I am quite comfortable being firm and direct, so a shortened version of what you said would be my response. Probably, “I’m well aware of what my body looks like and plan on dressing it the way it is.” Then silence. Let mom decide where the conversation is going. I think those sort of direct and short answers take people by surprise and force them to really think about the words that just came out of their mouth. I find this very effective, much more than changing the subject.

    • Your comment struck me as very interesting. I think for mothers it is all the more difficult not to worry about our physical appearance because for so long that was part of their job as our mother. It truly was their responsibility to make sure we ate well and dressed well, and it reflected on them if we didn’t. Our weddings are big occasions and most likely bring that feeling back. Not that I am excusing such behavior but I think it helps put it into their perspective. That most of what they are saying is well meaning and they truly want us to look and feel our best. They just might have different ideas of what that best is.

    • thank you for what you shared. i’m in a position (expecting my first little in a few months) where my body has become public property in a way no blog or advice column could prepare me for. thank you for sharing your words as i think they are appropriate for SO many settings.

    • I could have written your first few paragraphs word for word, thighs and all!

      I happen not to be skinny, and I have the usual occasional self-esteem issues about it, but I’m in the “normal” BMI range and try hard to maintain a positive self-image. My mother is a well-meaning person who has a few times in my life flipped out in an extremely un-constructive way about any perceived weight gain of mine.

      A few days after my engagement my mom and I went on a cross-country road trip to move me into a new city. Along one highway there were no restaurants besides McDonald’s for a dozen exits, so we stopped at one. We got up to the counter and my Mom said, “Get whatever you want.” I took her at her word and ordered a hamburger and small fries, no drink, and she gasped and admonished me IN FRONT OF THE CASHIER for ordering fries, and took it off the order. I was speechless with outrage until we got in the car, when we looked at each other and she had this smug “I just saved your ass, literally,” look on her face and told me that now I really should give up eating such things.

      I had to calm myself down, but then I gave her a talking-to about her attitude, recounting how I felt about every hurtful thing she’s said or done about my weight (luckily there were only a few– I can’t imagine what it’s like to be nagged or insulted constantly about it), and told her that I’d finally reached a point of acceptance and good self-esteem and she should back off. She looked sheepish and kind of apologized, saying she’d never bring it up again, and I told her that that wasn’t necessarily the point. I wanted her to accept my decision not to freak out about my weight and to trust that I would maintain a healthy (mental and physical) perspective and do what I needed to do.

      If you can take your conversation to the point where they’re willing to drop the subject, you might try asking them to accept you as you are rather than just keeping their opinion bottled up. They can be happy for you that you are happy WITH you– as everyone seems to agree, that’s so hard to do in this society– and maybe only discuss it when it is in a neutral (not diet-centered, e.g.) context and with a constructive attitude.

      So, Mom under control. Now, my already pretty thin, goal-oriented and overachieving fiancรฉ has decided (and is succeeding) to whittle down to a defined six-pack. I visited him recently and found that to do so he’s been calorie counting and generally paying way too much attention to his food intake for my taste, and he couldn’t help but mention it nearly every time we ate. And he started voicing his observations on MY eating, and I had to start again with the positive body-image talk. WTH? What is it about weddings that makes people go nuts?

  8. Full disclosure: I’ve not yet been a bride.

    However, like so much on OBB, this topic hits very close to home. I apologize for the length of this in advance.

    The personal decision I recently made to NOT attempt to lose weight anymore is one that I have struggled with for a long time. I no longer consider myself “fat” or “unattractive”– and it has taken me YEARS to develop the self confidence that I can be just as pretty/smart/funny/attractive as a size *gasp* 14 or 16 as I was when I was starving myself and vomiting to achieve a size 4.

    Yes, my issues may be more specifically related to those who have gone through an eating disorder, but having to deal with the seemingly negative comments and judgements I’ve been getting recently about my very public decision to stop giving a f%#$* has been a frustrating process.

    Mostly, and I know this is totally cliche, but what has come across the strongest is that my *real* friends don’t give a crap– most of them have seen me as a size 0 and a size 18, and they accept me however I look- big or small, blue hair or brown. Non-supportive friends are the easiest to deal with– you get to choose your friends, and I refuse to spend time with someone who would pass judgement on the size of my ass.

    I also am an actor, and recently the paper ran a story on some people who came to a show and made fun of me DURING the performance for being “fat”. (true story). There were some really cruel comments made on the article about how ridiculous it was that a girl who was a size 14 could ever hope to be an actress.
    Once upon a time, those comments would have upset me for months, but I’ve realized that I am more than a jeans size— I suppose what I’m getting at here is that it’s not ABOUT what your friends or family or vendors think– it’s about YOU, and your personal journey.

    I’ve worked in bridal alterations, and I very vividly remember one girl who came in– she was a size 28, and just gushed over how wonderful a job we were doing, how happy she was that we were so accommodating, and I remember saying to her, ‘You have EVERY right to be here. You have EVERY right to be happy. You have EVERY right to feel beautiful and if anyone tells you differently, kick them in the nuts”. Maybe not the most professional, but I made my point.

    That’s where I stand on this issue. It’s your right to be happy no matter HOW you look– and you’re getting married because the person you love has accepted you for how you are– why would you change it?

    • “I also am an actor, and recently the paper ran a story on some people who came to a show and made fun of me DURING the performance for being “fat”. (true story). There were some really cruel comments made on the article about how ridiculous it was that a girl who was a size 14 could ever hope to be an actress.”

      Can I just point out that these a**holes were the ones in the AUDIENCE. While they’re talking about how ridiculous it is that you could “ever hope to be” an actress.. you were up there, BEING ONE.

      If they were hating on your for being comfortable in your own body AND getting to do what you love, then that says a whoooole lot about who they all are and what they think of themselves.

  9. I am by no means a plus-sized person, but that doesn’t mean that in this process of wedding planning weight isn’t still an issue. My sister’s a recovering anorexic and I’ve had my own struggles with my appearance, so the issue is definitely there. I know that people are going to/have all ready hinted that since I’m a bride I must want to work out and loose weight; that the wedding must be why I’m eating healthier, and working out. Nobody cares to think that it’s just because I want to be healthier with my life. I know people will only push this as the time to go dress shopping gets closer. My family and friends mean well, but they are driven by the attitude “bride = must loose weight, must look look a certain way, etc,” so I know that it’ll come up or be an issue that I need to work out. My plan is to kindly say “I’m sorry you see something wrong with me that you think needs changing, but I love myself the way I am.” It sounds confrontational, but I think it’ll be best because it’s clear and to the point that I love myself, and they shouldn’t think otherwise.

  10. As a plus sized bride myself I have found a real mix of positive and negative from vendors. I think the bridalwear shops are the worst.

    My advice to other brides is to find a dressmaker you are comfortable with, find a selection of dresses you like on the internet and show them to her, then ask her to make a dress that will flatter your figure. Most dress makers know what to do to hide all those bits that you want to and make you look fabulous. As you are having it tailored it can be altered along the way depending on how your size changes (if at all). This way you end up with a one of a kind dress for a fraction of what you could have paid for a designer one. On the day it will fit like it was made for you (because it was!) and you will feel fabulous!!!

  11. I noticed the facebook ads change to weight loss pretty much straight away after we got engaged. The OBB community was so refreshing compared to other forums where the second most active section was nearly always about losing weight for the big day.

    As a very plus size lady of ~250lbs at the time of getting down to serious wedding planning I made a conscious decision not to put myself under any pressure to lose weight before the big day.

    My mum did mention it to me but I made it very clear that I had enough to do with a wedding to plan without adding to the stress, especially as I was perfectly happy with my weight.

    Trying on dresses was a different issue, I think I only tried on one dress in my size, everything else was way too small and I was putting it on and holding up the front to “get an idea of the shape”

    In the end I went with a custom made dress (which I ordered too big as I was convinced I’d gain weight before the wedding) which was perfect for me.

    I’m currently losing weight and one thing I have to say to everyone that is asking how I’m doing it is that it was my decision there was no influence from my family or friends. Also that I’m doing this for me, my health, not for a specific dress or a photo that I may look at in years to come with only the memory of harsh dieting instead of how happy we were on the day.

  12. Joy Nash of FatRantBlog had the best idea about this. If you have a family member who simply can’t let it go, say “I’m not really planning on losing any weight, but if you’re so worried about my health, you can pay for my gym membership.” Or groceries, or medication, or soap or whatever it is you need to be happier and healthier. It satisfies their need to help. If they really want to help, that should be enough.

    A few years ago, I had to have a moment with my mother. I had to say “Mom. I’m motivated by encouragement. That’s what gets me going. Being negative about my body doesn’t work. It makes me give up. I’m not even trying! I don’t want to try!”

    Just getting it out there was a BIG moment for both of us and it’s changed how we talk to each other about our bodies. It’s a conversation everyone can have! I encourage you to have this conversation because you’re still going to have your body after the wedding.

  13. I think the key here is not to wait until he proposes if she’s the type of mother to say hurtful things… I remember getting pressured to lose weight from as young as 9 (9!! Who does that?!?) and through my adult life too. After many, many one liners in conversations and arguments how it was not appropriate and I wished she would never bring it up again, she went behind my back and asked one of my best friends (through fb no less) to tell me to lose weight because no way would my now-Hubby stick around if I didn’t-but not to say that my mum said these things…kinda an impossible situation for my friend!!

    Naturally, I was furious but instead of blowing up at her, I wrote a VERY strongly worded but well-thought-out letter about how it made me feel (that she didn’t love me, couldn’t accept me, made me angry and sad which made me want to gorge on chocolate & the only time she didn’t pressure me was when I was a kilo or 2 away from anorexia and I never wanted to go back there) in comparison to how I normally feel (yeah… I’d like to be thinner. But I like food too much and I’d rather be healthy, happy and “fat” in her eyes than thin and miserable).

    I then ignored all calls for a few weeks while I read and re-read my letter. Many things were a lot harsher than they really needed to be but I ended up sending it anyway because none of my more gentle words had worked… And because weeks later, everything in the letter still rang true.

    To this day, she has never acknowledged that she received the letter, or that she read it-but all comments stopped (apart from a very occasional one which is probably out of habit and those get silenced with a “look”) and that was all I needed/wanted. It was a very long process though so if you have a turbulent relationship with your mum, I’d start trying to win that battle well before he proposes!

    • I kind of love how parents think they know about all relationships, especially modern ones. I distinctly remember my mother asking me, “you don’t fart in front of your boyfriend, DO YOU?” Why, yes, actually, we’re pretty comfortable with each other and it’s something everyone does, and that’s the way our relationship rolls. She was pretty horrified and implied strongly that men don’t like that sort of thing and that if I wanted to keep him around I should basically try to hide things like that. Again, because “men don’t like women doing stuff like that!” But… it’s my relationship, I know him better than you, mom. What the heck?

      Ah well, I’m fortunately more amused by these things than annoyed, because it just shows how much pre-marriage relationships have evolved in the past 30 years. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • ….someone once told me that one should wait up until their husband rolls in, no matter what the time he meanders home, in full dress and makeup. I was speechless lol…. Maybe it’s a different generation thing?

        I dunno, you ladies are nicer than me. With toxic people like that, I say it three times nice, and after that you can fuck right off about it – if I acknowledge your comments at all. I work hard enough to keep my own brain from saying ugly things to the mirror. Yes, I know I’m not quite the ‘right’ BMI, no, I’m not starting my healthy lifestyle until after the wedding (and fondant making/ chocolate molding/ rice krispie treat deliciousness being created,) and yes, I’m going to be all fluffy and busty and rock my corset at our wedding. Cuz that’s the way he loves me ๐Ÿ˜€

  14. I got a lot of criticism from family for most of my wedding plans and I was grateful to Offbeat Bride for giving me the courage to say “because it’s OUR day, it’s OUR party, and it’s what WE want.”

    The best advice I can give has a short story attached: I didn’t do anything unique with my hair and I did my makeup the way I would for any dress up date I had with my husband. He later told me that he was kind of worried he’d see me walk down the aisle and not have it be me, and he was very pleased to see the face he fell in love with, the face he proposed to, and the face he wants to have fancy dates with for the rest of his life looking back at him on our wedding day. You are not entering into a marriage expecting a different person and on your wedding day, your man will look at you with the love that has been building your entire experience together and excited anticipation of what your future experiences will hold. That’s all that matters, because this is about the two of you deciding to define your relationship in a more permanent way.

    I would lay down the law with your mom. My weight is not an issue to me or the man who wants to spend the rest of his life with me. I have enough to deal with in the planning process, so if you want to turn non-issues into issues, I’m going to have to remove you from helping me plan.

  15. This has been an ongoing issue between my mom and I. I’ve avoided getting to the nitty gritty of my own body image with her… because when it comes down to it… It’s honestly an issue about her own body image.

    My mom is 5’5″ and well within her BMI ( I have a problem with BMI because its only about weight and height and ignores too many important factors… like that muscle weighs more than fat… bone density… gender… age… etc…) But my mom, regardless of how thin she has been, considers herself “fat”… so, by comparison… I’m really huge at 5’9” and curvy as fuck.

    I’m honestly not sure if my mom is seeing weight in regards to health or if its only “how clothes fit” and how one looks. I told her I’m losing weight for my health. I am only looking for more energy and the ability to run after my kids without collapsing in a big winded pile of goo. I’m a size 16, and honestly I’m fine with it. I can rock a retro wiggle dress like nobodies business. But, inevitably, the conversation always leads to size… and how I’m not going to look like Mae West because she was smaller than I am…

    I do admit I have my own body issues… every woman does. I’m learning to love them though… may take a while… but I’m getting there.

    I may need to flood my moms inbox with beautiful plus size girls… LOL

    • PS. One thing that helped me realize I’m not sasquatch… a pin up photoshoot. The best, most wonderful thing I’ve ever done. Biggest confidence booster ever.

      Come to think of it… maybe I should show my mom those pics… well… the not naked ones anyway.

        • I would love to do a boudoir shoot, partly for the purpose of loving my body and also because showing off my body turns my man on. Of course, I would only give the photos to him only and keep some for myself. But when I explained this idea to my mom, she declared that boudoir pics are “inappropriate” and “un-Christian.” I’m still trying to figure out how to deal with those kind of comments. In the meantime, I may end up a) paying for a boudoir session myself or b) create my own boudoir pics.

  16. The best way I avoided body image issues for my wedding was that I had my dress custom made! The clothes that you spend sooo much to put on your body to tell the story of who you are at your essence mean so much! My husband and I wanted our wedding to be about our ethics and thus our cloth to be organic, so I had my dress made to fit me not the other way around! This way everything was “me” and bonus for not feeling bad for not “fitting” into another image from another person. My designer had my measurements so the dress wasn’t too long, the bust wasn’t too big and the hips weren’t too damn small! It was perfect! Also, stay on cool sites like this and don’t watch tv or go near “commercial” bridal mags!!!

      • That’s what I’m doing! Bonus; it fits almost perfectly at the first fitting, since it’s made to your body. That’s a confidence booster AND a time/money-saver.

      • Not just plus size brides should do this. It is a great way to get exactly what you want, made to fit you. I found the whole experience made me more excited about how I would look on the day

        • Here here! You spend the rest of your life buying clothes that are meant to fit other people from stores – getting your wedding dress custom designed makes it THAT much more special!

      • As a not-quite-there woman in a serious LTR, I’m loving this idea too… I just don’t know where or how I would start the process of finding a seamstress who would custom make a dress for me in the Midwest US. The one simple google search I did for this came up with almost nothing, except for 1 or 2 custom designers who charge thousands as baseline price! Any ideas on the nitty-gritty of having something custom made for someone getting ready to be in this boat?

      • I have been married before, and back then I was a teeny tiny little thing (and miserable I now realise, for reasons other than my weight). I still had my dress custom made because my natural style is very simple and it was so hard to find a simply cut dress to my taste. I totally recommend custom made for brides of all shapes and sizes, especially for brides who have simple, classic tastes as I have found it is much less expensive than off the rack dresses.

        This time, I am larger and happier and I am still going for a custom made dress, which is even simpler than my last wedding dress. I have not had any pressure from my family to lose weight. They have seen me depressed and miserable, and they see me now happy. Thankfully, weight is irrelevant to them.

        It does amuse me that, ever since we got engaged, when aquaintances find out that I avoid wheat and dairy (its a seasonal thing, to help me deal with sever allergies), they relate it directly to weight loss! I tell them its the allergic conjunctivitis I am trying to lose, not my curves ๐Ÿ˜›

    • I’m wearing a custom-made dress too, and I’m a size 8! I simply don’t care for a lot of the styles that are featured in mainstream bridal magazines, and I have my own visions of a dress anyway. Thank goodness for Etsy dressmakers. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. I’m so thankful that OBB doesnt allow dieting discussion on their site for this very reason. Being recently engaged, and fresh from my first bridal boutique experience, I understand what she’s going through. Its even harder when it comes from a family member.

    I’m considered a plus size girl, especially in the bridal world it seems. I felt completely ashamed and mortified when I stepped into my first dress at a small boutique and they broke out the CLAMPS (do they really need industrial size clamps you would see in an auto shop?). Not one single dress actually fit me and the way the try to squeez you in and clamp the dress down is just awful.

    However, after trying the typical bridal shops, we went to a department store. I think it was Nordstroms. I found a very pretty (very offbeat) dress that I fell in love with, and guess what, the size they put me in was actually 2 sizes smaller than what I normally wear, and it FIT!

    So I guess the lesson I learned was to skip the high pressure environment all together, you’ll probably save money as well as your confidence.

    • I can totally see how you felt like the clamps were complete overkill…if I can explain?

      Bridal shops use clamps to show prospective buyers how their dresses will fit after proper tailoring. They use strong clamps in order to hold many layers, and sometimes many pounds of fabric in place. They use these on every customer, on every dress (I went to Vera Wang’s flagship store in Beverly Hills–giant orange handled clamps there, too!).

      A good salesperson should be gentle and explain what they’re doing, instead of making you feel like it’s YOUR FAULT that the dress doesn’t fit–of course it doesn’t–it’s not tailored for you!

      I hope that helps explain–and I’m so glad you found a dress that fits you and makes you feel beautiful!

    • Trust me (and the other commenter here), the clamps are not just for “plus-sized” potential buyers. I am a pretty petite woman, and was probably a size 6 when I went bridal dress shopping (which is the smallest I have ever been, despite being quite short), and I think I tried on maybe 2 dresses that didn’t require clamps, and even they were tight. I’m pretty sure especially the higher-end shops get the dresses straight off the models they were modeled on, and as the other commenter said use the clamps to show you what it will look like once it’s fitted to you.

  18. 1) I made my dress and got to have exactly what I wanted – custom clothing to make you feel your best = major winning at any size.

    I wanted to parse your question a bit though:

    “If my mother criticizes me and doesn’t stop, how do I deal with it? How do I tell her to back off without pissing her off or giving her a brush-off answer?”

    I think that Ariel gave some great advice about remembering a misguided but theoretically common ground.

    However, I just want to also say: Do what is best for YOU. If she continues, hurting you, and isn’t caring that it’s pissing YOU off and brushing off YOUR comments in return, then you need to decide on a line in the sand for yourself and take care of yourself. On some level only you know where that line is, but if you recognize that line, you’ll be able to stand on it without having to do a total Gandalf when it’s finally triggered.

    2) I like to hope for everyone that a wedding day is an amazing day in an amazing life together. You’re beautiful today. You’re beautiful on every Tuesday in October of 2017. You are going to be beautiful on your wedding day, because you’re going to oooooooze awesome “OMFG we’re MARRIED!” vibes and those are gorgeous, even when they’re full of ugly cries and trashed dresses, and rain, sleet, snow, hail, or firestorm. So turn an oldie on it’s head. Just smile knowingly and say, “oh, Mom, you’ll seeeeeeee!”

    • Oh, I love this idea of saying “you’ll seeeeeee!” to your mom! I can honestly see it working, too. My mom COULD NOT fathom how my design for my dress was going to be at all flattering, and kept trying to convince me to change it or just buy one, and I had some serious doubts about it for a long time because of that. Finally (after a good long talk with my future-husband when I was crying over my uncertainty), I informed my mom that I knew what I was doing, it was going to be gorgeous, and she would see and agree. And guess what? She LOVED my dress.

  19. In my opinion, the best answer to this is to remind her that people like to say “You’ll never find a man if you don’t lose a good XX pounds” and if you’re engaged, plus sized, and looking for a wedding dress, this is clearly bullsh*t.

    • “‘You’ll never find a man if you don’t lose a good XX pounds’ and if you’re engaged, plus sized, and looking for a wedding dress, this is clearly bullsh*t.” New philosophy.

  20. I really loved this post. I’ve fought tooth and nail over my weight growing up and have embraced the fact I’m a plus size girl who’s a down-to-heart foodie. When I first started dress shopping… I couldn’t get out of my head when my grandmother would complain about my weight when I was little. She would get two sizes bigger in clothes when I was a preteen and say with a snobbish tone,”Well, you’ll GROW into them anyway, at the rate you’re going.” Its a wonder I didn’t become anorexic or bulimic. Even my mother in law, obsessed with losing weight for any occasion made comments on what diet I was thinking about choosing before the big day.

    Wrestling with those thoughts, and trying to look for a dress that looked good on me..just made me feel worse about the whole thing. I actually had put down money on a dress that swallowed me and felt retired to my fate as a “fat” bride that can’t look good in anything. Finally my now husband stepped in and put the spiral to a halt. He said,”This day is about YOU, stop going with what everyone else says. I’m marrying you because you have your own voice, now SPEAK UP.”

    I finally saddled up and started speaking up. I found a new dress that was BEAUTIFUL, made out of crinkle chiffon and a halter top with an empire waist.Size 20, and I looked like a boss in that thing. I went happily barefoot down a hardwood church isle on June 9th this year with it on. No one else said anything about my weight. Even strangers where we took pictures came up and asked me where I got my dress cause it was amazing. I was on cloud nine all day, and you bet i stuffed my face with food at the reception. How can I not? Foodies need love too! I am so happy someone posted this. Weddings are always so stressful enough without throwing body image into the mix. I say screw the others, be YOU cause its your day..and YOUR life.

  21. When I got my dress made at Dark Garden, i remember Autumn saying to me, “You can do anything you want, but please for the love of god, DO NOT LOSE ANY WEIGHT!”

    I understand, of course, that this was because taking in my elaborate dress would be a bigger bitch than letting it out, but it was the first time in my entire life I had ever heard the sentiment. I’m not dainty, I’m curvy and athletic and struggle with my weight everyday, so I like remembering that moment.

  22. Since meeting my mate this has been an issue for me because I was terrified of shopping with my mother. Shopping with her, she holds no punches. When you come out of the dressing room and ask “how does this look?” she give a straight answer and is critical of every flaw you may have. That can be a good thing. But when your a teen trying to find fashionable clothes and nothing seems to live up to your mom’s standards you start to feel like crap.
    One day a few years ago my mother and I got talking about wedding dresses. To make a long story short she basically told me that I need to wear one of those dresses you find in the “modest” section of some designers lines (Allure Bridal has a section if your curious), because my arms were too big to wear a strapless or strappy gown. Personally I think those modest dresses are not my taste and from then on I was so scared of the day that I would have to go dress shopping. Should I cut her out of the whole thing and go by myself or with a less critical friend? Should I take her with and just grin and bare it as best I can? What to do–?
    Luckily a few months ago I spoke to my mother about dress shopping and she seemed to have had a change of heart. She told me she didn’t care what I wore so long as I was happy with it. What a relief!
    But in any event my best advice would be this: think about your personality and ask yourself how you want to handle it. Maybe a good thing to do is to say something like this:
    “Mom, I know you want me to lose weight. I want to lose weight too. Maybe I will soon. But my wedding date is set for x/y/z and that just isn’t enough time for me to get everything I need to done, plus keep up my normal life of work/ school/ what have you and then concentrate on losing weight, too. Maybe losing weight is next but its not going to happen in the next X months. So please, can we shelve the whole weight loss issue, at least till after the wedding? I love you and this is supposed to a happy time and a time for us to enjoy being mother and daughter.”
    Maybe if you were feeling up to it, if you are really ready to lose the weight you can make a deal with her that when you come back from your honeymoon you will start a healthy eating and exercise plan– together, as a mom and daughter team.
    Just a thought. Hope that helps.

    • I wouldn’t let my mother come with me until the dress was finished. That way, she couldn’t make any horrid comments as it was all already completed.

      • I find that my mom needs to feel like she had a say in order to be supportive, so she came along. I think she was just so happy that I was wearing a white gown from a real bridal shop that she wasn’t going to insult my body. Interestingly, when we chose the first photographer we met and put the downpayment, my mom started getting worried it was the wrong decision, probably because she wasn’t involved in making it. I give her the illusion of input and she gives me peace. I guess this just depends on how your mom is.

  23. It’s always so weird to me how people just automatically assume that everyone is going to try to completely change what they look like now that they’re getting married. A while back at work I came in with a Costco muffin and one of my coworkers (who I don’t really even know all that well) looked at it and said, “Don’t you have a wedding dress to fit into?”

    After staring at her for a while in shock, I just said, “My dress fits just fine, thanks,” and took a HUGE bite out of my muffin. Yummy yum yum.

    Responding in a way that casually points out that someone is being rude tends to shut the conversation down.

    “Are you going on a diet before the wedding?”
    “Nope, why do you ask?”

    Generally people just get all awkward and kind of slink away. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • I find it very odd that everyone automatically assumes you will try to change *everything* for your wedding.

      My hair hasn’t been past chin length since I was allowed to choose my haircut. I have worn glasses since 3rd grade.
      And yet, I got asked if I was getting contacts and growing my hair out, as well as losing weight.

      Why do so many people think you need to look like not-you on your wedding day?

      • Very true!!! My usual haircut is a #3 clippers short pixie, but I wanted to wear a hat with long hair… *shrug* so I’m growing it out. I’m growing it as an accessory, not for “the perfect look.” It amazes me the reaction I get to my reasoning about it. I guess I didn’t realize how much people assume you must change who you for a wedding.

  24. I am a plus sized bride who decided NOT to get her dress custom-made. I hit up David’s Bridal first, and had them throw EVERY type of dress at me. I wanted to see what I looked like in a fancy dress. I was SHOCKED at how good I looked in the majority of dresses. I tried on bubble hems, princess cuts, sparkles, sequins, lace, buttons all up the back, etc. There were however, some SERIOUS body/dress issues with certain styles. I just looked MASSIVE in certain dresses. Even ones I thought I should look okay in. It’s all about the proportion of your body to the proportions of the dress. I know trying on dresses can make you feel like less (more….) but in order to see that it really isn’t you, it’s the dress ON you that’s the issue, you HAVE to be willing to try on a few dresses. Go to a shop that carries your size (or a little bigger, as they can make it look smaller, but not be bigger) and try on a few that you know you won’t be buying, to see what YOU look like, not the dress. Afterall, your husband is marrying you- not the dress. However, a well fitted dress (maybe even tailored to you) can make you feel like a bajillion bucks. But that isn’t about fitting yourself to the dress, it’s about fitting the dress to YOU, like everything else in your wedding.

    • I totally agree. I specifically chose David’s Bridal because I knew they carried a ton of dresses in many sizes. I really didn’t feel like I was relegated to the “plus size” section (even though I did buy a plus size dress) and the sample actually fit! Or were, at least, within one size. It was so much better for my self esteem that way.

    • I must say, I’m rather jealous. I’ve been to 2 David’s so far, and they’ve had a total of 4 dress they could squeeze my size 24 bum into, all of them strapless A-lines. They didn’t even carry plus sized prom dress to try! It looks like I’ll have to have my dress blindly custom-made because I don’t know what else to do.

  25. Thank you all for the thoughtful and wonderful answers! I have been dying over what to do about my mother. I know the comments about losing weight for my wedding are a-comin’ and it frankly scares me a lot. But I think the first approach will be best.

    I have mostly dreaded the dress appointment. Where they shove you in a dress 5+ sizes too small and nobody can envision the dress on you properly because it doesn’t fit at all. I’m thinking about a dressmaker (also because I have such offbeat taste that I don’t like most wedding dresses :P) and that thought is making me feel so much better. Better to explain that I haven’t seen any dresses I like than fight over my weight!

    I’m also glad my question was answered because you never see weight struggles in the wedding profiles. Nobody says “The hardest part about planning was beating off comments about how I should lose weight before my wedding.” because that’s so sad! But I was sad that every other plus-sized bride I saw seemed to have a family who loved her and never made comments about her weight. I definitely do not have that family. Thank God I’m not alone!

  26. What an interesting and positive conversation–I love how Offbeat Brides talk to each other with such love and respect.

    I considered losing weight for my wedding, but weight loss is a project like any other–like planning a wedding, writing a book, organizing yourself for a tax audit, raising a kitten, or learning to drive. I wound up doing all those things this year, and they all took time, energy, and patience. In the end, weight loss was not important enough to me to be prioritized above any of that other stuff, and it slipped off the to-do list.

    Maybe sometime it’ll come back–I think weight loss would be good for me if I weren’t doing at the expense of other more important things. Really, if I could finish this book versus refashion my caloric intake to lose twenty pounds, I’d finish the darn book.

    That’s me, and my choice. Weight loss is intensely personal, and nobody gets to set your goals and priorities for you. If someone assailed me about losing weight for the wedding, I think a very good answer would be, “Considering all the fascinating stuff in my life right now, that’s just not a priority.”

  27. THIS so much THIS. Ever since I bought my wedding dress, if I ever eat anything slightly sugary in front of my boss, she says: “Oh, it’s OK if you eat that, after all, your dress has a corseted back if you gain weight.”

    Cheers hon. Why does she think it’s OK to comment on what I eat?

    • I would be soooo tempted to say “I guess it’s a shame your clothes aren’t corseted or I’d offer you a cookie too,” but I guess that wouldn’t be too professional ๐Ÿ˜‰

  28. Thanks to weddingdress shopping I got a tiny glimpse of what plus sized lady have to go through.

    When I told the sales lady I don’t own a scale she didn’t believe me. I used to stress over being too skinny so I threw the stupid thing out and lived happily ever after.

    They write down your measurements and tell you not to lose or gain weight. (and told me that I lost 1 cm, but it wasn’t that bad. Damn right it isn’t!) It’s pretty though to be immune to those antics.

    People don’t have any business commenting on your body’s shape and size, unless it is to tell you how awesome you look!

    I really respect you curvy ladies for being strong and awesome. I realise you get a lot of cr*p, because some people think that they can just say things to you when you’re plus-sized. Beauty has nothing to do with pounds and kilo’s.

    • I ditched my scale, too! I’ve found that when I have one I weigh myself obsessively, just because it’s there. When it’s not there, I don’t think about it… I just go off of whether I feel good about myself or not. I highly recommend this to everyone.

  29. You guys are so much kinder than I would be. I cannot stand people implying that “I’m working out for my wedding right?” I’m a reasonably small size (6-8) and I still get this kind of nonsense thrown my way. Not to mention that I am completely fed up with going to bridesmaid’s shops where they insist I try on the dresses because they don’t have any samples that will fit my bridesmaids. I can understand why someone would only want to order off the internet, and not deal with the judgey store clerks ever again. A computer would never roll its eyes at me and remind me of how samples only come in sizes up to 10.

  30. Dear Sarah,

    Please never forget that the problem is not you, it’s society. I find it devastating to see how some people only seem to care about weight, when there’s so many plus size women looking absolutely gorgeous.

    I’ve been engaged for 3 months and have been asked twice ‘if I was planning to lose weight for the wedding’. That’s so insulting, patronizing and why can’t people just mind their own business? No, I’m perfectly happy with the way I am and I will not lose weight for my wedding!

    Don’t let your mom (or anybody) get you down. It would be a good idea to talk to her about it. She probably doesn’t even realize she’s hurting you with her comments… I had a similar problem with my mother.

    Take care,


    • Thank you so much for this. It can be so disheartening when your mother doesn’t like how you look, but it is ultimately my groom’s and my wedding and he liked it so he plans to put a ring on it! And it’s good to know someone else fought their mom on this. ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. 1. Be yourelf just as hard as you can be – everyone will love you the more for it, whatever shape you are.

    2. Some of the nicest wedding dresses are designed to look fabulous on larger sized ladies – mediaeval corset dresses, to my dismay, don’t look at all right on slimmer brides!

    3. Whatever size/shape you want to be, you are going to lose some weight before the big day anyway whether you intend to or not.

    4. Dive in and enjoy it all for you and him, noone else matters!

  32. wow, does this hit close to home. for years, my mother hounded me about my weight… criticized what i ate, offered me money to lose 20 pounds, you name it. she insisted it was because she was worried about my health, and ignored my observation that her concern probably stemmed more from some of her own issues.

    a few years ago, my mom asked me to come with her to her counselor so i could help her talk something out. turns out it was an “intervention”, and she thought that having a counselor talk some sense into me would get me to lose weight. except after the appointment, she has never in 3 years mentioned my weight again. i’m sure that after our meeting, the counselor told her to leave me alone and work on her own issues.

    anyway. i wondered if dress shopping would make the beast rear its ugly head again, and it didn’t. but if she made a comment about losing weight, i was prepared to say: “on our wedding, day, J and i are looking forward to being in the midst of so many people who love and support us for being exactly the way we are. hopefully by then you’ll come around and be able to do the same.”

    harsh, but sometimes it’s needed.

  33. Oh gawd, this was such a frustrating part of my wedding process. However, dealing with my mom’s (and grandma, and my groom’s grandma’s) attitude toward my weight helped make me the fine fierce fat activist I am today. For me, the key was to reframe this as a feminist issue rather than a personal assault.

    OBB has often talked about the wedding industrial complex and the psychological damage it can do. One of the tools of the wedding industrial complex is the patriarchal notion that brides have to be the mainstream feminine ideal. Vendors play into it because they can make money off of it. Family feeds into it because the don’t know any other way and are used to people going along with it.

    When I decided to be myself (all 230lbs of it), it was a radical rejection of the status quo. Every time I got criticized for it, I gave a speech about how patriarchy hurts us all. Some people were receptive. Some were not. When people weren’t open to it, I made a boundary (just like Ariel said) and closed the subject.

    On bad days, I read lots of feminist fat positive blogs (not just wedding ones, because frankly those are few and far between–what up, OBB!) and played lots of music by awesome big ladies (I recommend Gossip and old school Missy Elliot). I added some fat positive songs to my reception playlist which also let me shake my stuff in comfort and let the haters deal with it. Good luck!

    • Thank you so much! OMG I am such a huge feminist so this clicked right away in my brain and kinda rejuvenated my soul. I know I can be beautiful on my wedding day haters be damned.

  34. i just want to say that this advice, “If she pushes it again, try this: reach out and hold her hand in yours (if that feels right), look into her eyes and say, “I love you, and I’m done talking about this.” Then get up, and walk the fuck away.” is probably the best bit of advice i’ve gotten on how to handle my mom during wedding planning. she hasn’t gotten on me about my weight in a while, but she’s been a pretty big pain in the ass about everything else wedding related.

  35. I’ve only looked at dresses once (way back two years ago now, before I had to move the date back twice) and I didn’t feel too self concious then. Now though, I’m slowly more and more terrified. I’ve gone up at least 2 sizes since last time I tried anything on, and my mom for two years has been dropping little ‘hey you’re kinda fat’ hints. She’s never pushed me to lose weight, and I come from a large, heavy family on my dad’s side and plenty of heavier friends so I haven’t had much pressure overall, but my mom has this way of getting under my skin completely and destroyng my self-esteem without my even realizing it. She has offered to try and make my dress, and I really want her to, I just hope it won’t be a huge issue. I am in no way happy with my body, but I’ve accepted that it’s mine.

  36. Also! My amazing honey said to me before we were engaged and a few times after that he thinks losing weight and surgery and things all before your wedding is completely silly, because then it’s the person you love saying I love you forever just the way you are, and then you changing the way you are.

  37. The intro actually made me cry, I can relate. My grandmother is like that, she’s tried so many ways to get me to loose weight. She’s bought me diet pills and gym memberships, it’s hard to have someone you love criticize you. I’m so lucky that when I go through my body self hate fazed that my fiancee is there telling me he loves my body, including my belly, my double chin and especially my butt.

    • I’m so sorry this happened to you. I’ve dealt with the diet pressure too (family diets but mostly so I could lose the weight) and it’s HORRIBLE. I’m so glad you’ve been able to look at yourself for the beautiful lady you are!

  38. Does anyone have advice on how I can respond to my boss making comments about having to fit into a wedding dress every time I order something healthy at a business lunch or lunch meeting? He is in his late 50’s and I don’t know if he’s just clueless or what, but it bugs me every time I hear this (about once a week).

    • Take him aside and tell him that you would rather not have your personal business aired in front of clients and coworkers… That as it is your workplace you would rather things be kept as professional as possible.

      (on a side note… what an ass.)

    • Depending on what he’s saying, inappropriate comments from the boss can constitute harassment. If he doesn’t respond to an icy stare or you saying, “Every time I order a salad, you make a comment about my wedding dress. I’d like it if you stopped doing that, please,” then you may need to get HR involved. Good luck!

      • Thanks guys ๐Ÿ™‚

        To clarify, I’m not overweight, so it’s not like he’s picking on me for the way I look. It’s just that I hate his assumption that my wanting to eat a salad has to do with a) losing weight and b) fitting into a wedding dress.

        • It doesn’t matter if he’s commenting on how you look or if you’re overweight/underweight/plus sized/missy sized/etc. Him auditing your food choices and body shaming you is harassment.

          Even if you were a size 2315, he still has no business saying anything about what you eat or why you’re eating it.

          • Agreed. Even if you work for a small little company where everyone are friends, it’s still not acceptable. Thank him for his support (he IS your boss), then redirect him and ask about photographers or flower shop suggestions or something neural he can “advise” you on.

        • Aw man.. I used to get this when I first started working in the job I’m in now!! (I’m talking 10 years ago when I was like 20..) I’d always bring healthy food to work and only buy healthy food from the food truck and OMG almost every damn day SOMEONE would comment on ‘Ooh you’re eating healthy today’ or ‘Look at you and your healthy salad!’ It shit me sooo much! I don;t stand there and say ‘Ooh look at that fat laden hamburger!’ or ‘Look at you and your deep fried heart stopper’ Haha! Anyway, years later and all that went away, but gosh darn I can totally sympathise with you there.

  39. There is only one wedding magazine I like. But I lost so much respect for the writers when they had a detox/weightloss piece. It just assumed that everyone wants to do that for their wedding.

    I think its a vicious cycle. So long as women think thats what we’re meant to do, it will be promoted and encouraged.

  40. So I can’t necessarily relate to pressures to lose weight as I’m very skinny. However, my mother did express the occasional concern about my wedding that put a damper on my enthusiasm.

    When she was discussing the problems with my sister’s purple hair, I commented “This is something I was super excited about and your comments are making me lose my joy. I want to be happy and excited about my wedding so don’t take that from me.” She promptly apologized and dropped the subject. I imagine a similar line could work when discussing dress shopping, or how you look in your dress, or photography, or whatever the context is where your mother might bring up your appearance.

  41. I am not plus size, but I’ve got my fair share of body image problems.

    Despite the fact that I’m the ‘correct weight’ and might even be considered skinny, there’s a lot of body shaming I’ve come across. I’m 5’10”, 150lbs wear size 14 pants and a 32B bra. Just that simple number – 14 – has caused me to break out in tears before. Not because I’m ashamed – that’s simply the way my body is – but because when people start talking about it, they suddenly look at me like I’m a freak and usually insist “no way! You can’t be a size 14” in a disgusted voice.

    So far, my best way of shutting people down is “and this matters because?” Often people just need that reminder that this is totally inappropriate.

    • Don’t feel like a freak! Every time you say that and people look at you like you’re crazy, what you’re doing is changing their perceptions! Don’t back down, and don’t change what you say. The more everyone is just like, “Yeah…. this is what it is. Whatever,” the less important it will all become.

  42. For some reason, nobody has asked me if I’m losing weight for the wedding– they just automatically assume I am. So I have so many people coming to me and saying “You look like you’re losing weight!” When um, nope. It’s the same old me! I’ve taken to answering, “No, I just look ten pounds heavier in mental pictures.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

  43. People butt in when you’re too skinny too (though it takes a lot more to get there). I lost a bunch of weight because of a parasite, and my mom kept being on me about being “too skinny” and trying to gain more weight BACK to the point that it was making me feel bad, so I told her that I heard her concern, but that her comments about my body were not helping me. She hasn’t said much since.

  44. I am a plus size girl and I come from a plus size family. Due to the stress involved in planning my wedding, I actually put on weight, they had to let my dress out. Twice. I am a comfort eater and I’d wager that I am not the only one. The ladies who ran the bridal store told me something that I have always remembered “The size is just a number, as long as you look and feel beautiful nothing else matters”

    And you know what… It didn’t matter. I looked beautiful on my wedding day and I look beautiful in my wedding photos (though they are the only photos of me I do consider beautiful.) (( I wish I could post one here so people could see lol))

  45. This is an awesome post.
    It’s odd how weddings (and to a greater extent pregnancy) make women’s bodies such public property that almost complete strangers feel comfortable discussing something so private (“How are you going to get your boobs into something strapless?!” “Err, I’m not? And when the hell did it become any of your business?”).

    I did lose a bunch of weight before the wedding for various unrelated reasons and my horror now comes from the ‘when you going to pile it all back on’ questions. “Now you’ve trapped him I bet you can eat what you like” was a particular low point, and I’m really grateful for this post’s suggestions about boundaries and how to set them.
    Screw them unthinking haters and their gallons of (lo-cal) Hateraid.

  46. One of the best decisions I made was to GO DRESS SHOPPING BY MYSELF! I love my friends and family, but I wanted what ‘I’ wanted, and didn’t want to be swayed or discouraged by their opinions. I went to a bridal shop that I knew would have dresses to try that were actually my size. I picked a dress that looked great on my body. I later involved a similarly-sized and brutally honest friend once I’d chosen the dress. And I brought my mom and grandmother to the fittings. That way they were involved, but the dress itself was MY choice.

  47. The pressure is everywhere for me, so I empathize. I’m on the fence between normal and plus-size in a family of mostly-plus-size females. I’ve had to hear about diet stress, diet failure, diet this and diet that since before I knew what the word “diet” meant. My mother offered to get me liposuction before I had any fat to suck out, just because my family is sensitive to the issue. With that in mind, I know that there is NO WAY I am going to be able to stop their comments about losing weight for the wedding. I can’t control what they say, so I have to control how I react. I have two things that help me keep it all in perspective.

    The Mister and I were talking about HIS ideal wedding a while ago. It was an eye-opening conversation in a lot of ways, let me tell you, but none more so than when I asked him to envision what my dress looked like. He got misty-eyed just IMAGINING me in a wedding dress. Just thinking about it made him almost cry. I think he’s happy with the size I am, no? If he doesn’t have a problem with it, why should I? He’s the one what has to look at it, amirite? ๐Ÿ˜› In all seriousness, though, he and I are the ones who get a say in what I look like, and he’s only in an advisory position. I am happier with myself now than I was when I was sixty pounds lighter. THAT is what matters.

    The other thing is that I told my family up-front how this was going to go down with regards to wedding dresses. (They didn’t believe me, but I DID warn them.) I can’t remember who said this on the Tribe like a bazillion years ago, but the mother-of-the-bride in the situation talked about losing weight for wedding dresses. The bride’s response was something like “Bitch, PLEASE. That dress needs to fit onto ME, not the other way around.” No one expects you to lose weight to fit into a nice pair of jeans or comfy sweatpants. The idea is totally backwards; just buy clothes that fit you, that make you feel like you look good. That’s how I’m looking at wedding dresses. There are so many resources out there for brides of all shapes and sizes; it’s not true that you have to be a size 2 or 8 or 10 to look gorgeous on your wedding day. And honestly, a bride is ALWAYS gorgeous, to my innocent-bystander eyes, and I don’t think I’m the only person who feels that way.

    This is how I keep the pressure from getting to me, even if I can’t stop the comments from others. I hope that helps!

  48. Discussions like this are why I love OBB! It is great to hear “it’s your body, do what YOU want, and only for yourself!”

    I have dealt with some misguided wedding advice from my grandmother. She is the sweetest little old lady ever, and I understand she just wants things to be perfect for me on the big day, but obviously our ideas of perfect differ. The last time this discussion was raised I just told her that I had my dress custom fit, and it just wouldn’t look right if I lose any weight. Luckily she knows I have a very limited budget because I am a full time student, so alterations are out of the question haha.

  49. I am a hardcore, hippie-ish feminist who prides herself on her super-postive body image (blahblah the most revolutionary thing you can do as a woman is love your body blahblahbah) having a tiny, mountain wedding where I will be wearing a crazy sequin dress. I’m also 38. I cannot stop thinking about getting my 11 lines (you know, those two lines above my nose I got from scowling at everbody in Brooklyn) Botoxed. It’s fucking sick. I have no kind of wedding pressure of any kind and I will be married in front of a teeny number of family and my small handful of besties. I also have thick bangs that cover my forehead. CANNOT UNWANT BOTOX IN THESE LINES. CANNOT STOP OVERINTELLECTUALIZING THIS WANT IN A FEMINIST CONTEXT. Ugh.

    • The feminist self-flagellation that comes with this kind of thing was the hardest part for me. I’m hesitant to link this (both because it caused a massive shitstorm when I wrote it 6 years ago, and because not all of it fits within the Offbeat Empire’s voice), but I touch on some of these same issues here.

      • Thanks for posting this article! I’ve definitely struggled with getting flack from both sides on the weight issue… from family telling me I’d look so much better if I slimmed down, to my fellow feminists imploring me to not let the patriarchy control me like that! I think when it comes to matters of changing appearance, there really is no “one size fits all” method. The little quiz that I run any decisions through is this: 1) Is this a personal desire to change, or is this because someone else wants me to change? 2) Are the methods I’m planning on using to change safe and healthy? 3) In ten years, is it possible I would look back on this decision and regret it?

        And most importantly, taking a moment every day to remember that my sexiest body part is my brain. Look at you, foxy brain! All those thoughts and feelings… rwar!

      • I grew up with the opposite mother: she had me on a scale daily starting at age 10, and weight stuff definitely re-emerges around the wedding.

        I wish I would have seen that Alternet post six years ago ๐Ÿ™‚ At the time, I was teaching a 300 person Intro to Gender Studies course. I agonized about how to stand in front of that course as an overweight woman and talk about body image issues, AND acknowledge the obesity epidemic and the negative health impacts of my own job (ass in chair) at the same time. It wasn’t feminist self-flagellation – it was: how do we think about these things together? I think your Alternet piece is a step in that direction.

        Ultimately: in the US, we have a really fucked up approach to food and bodies, that leaves us in this weird space with all these things that we can’t figure out how to talk about heathily. Wedding planning exacerbates all that x100.

        Why in the world would we talk about losing weight to look better in a dress? We should be talking about doing whatever it takes – and that is really different for every person – to feel great in our bodies and support our brains, which are part of our bodies after all, every day!

  50. June of last year, I decided I was tired of having zero energy, and I was going to do something about it. I started eating healthier, and forced myself to start going to a gym. In October, my BF became my fiance. This had NOTHING to do with my new eating habits or exercise program. He had just gotten out of the hospital after a 12 day stay for apendicitis and realized we don’t always get all the time we think we will. He decided he didn’t have to come up with the perfect proposal and just asked. It was the perfect proposal because it was a complete surprise (I love surprises!) and it came from the heart.

    The problem I’ve had during my wedding planning is not people telling me I need to lose weight for the wedding. It’s been their assumption that the weight I’ve been losing as I’ve been eating healthier is due to the wedding. I have explained countless times that I’m not trying to lose weight for my wedding, I’m trying to eat healthier and work out more to improve my self image and to live a healthier life. I try to take a gentle approach when I explain this. “Actually, I hadn’t even thought about losing weight for the wedding, I was just tired of being tired all the time.” This tends to make most people change how they’re looking at it. There have been some that persist in asking how the wedding weightloss is coming along, and I’ve started to either ignore the question or simply say “I’m not losing weight for the wedding.” and change the subject. My response to that question depends entirely on who is asking it.

    I’ve seen a LOT of good information already about how people have dealt with this question. Much of it is better than my two cents, but I can only talk about my situation. I’m not skinny, and I’m never going to be. I AM much more comfortable in my skin than I was last year in June but I think that has more to do with the energy I have now that I’m eating better for my metabolic rate. I was fortunate that my family didn’t even mention my weight when they heard about the engagement. I do wish I’d known some of these things before. It would have made holidays more enjoyable with the more judgey members of my Southern family.

    • Like you, I started to change my lifestyle around the time I got engaged. I started eating well, and I challenged myself to run a half marathon. At the same time, I started losing weight. I was so tired of people telling me “good job for losing weight for the wedding” when in reality, the weight loss was just a byproduct of this whole self-empowerment journey I started. Each time a person mentioned my wedding and new lifestyle in the same breath, I felt like they were erasing my agency to determine my own motivation. It was really frustrating, and at times, those comments actually threatened to de-rail the pro-empowerment, kick ass attitude I was maintaining about my new fitness routine.

      But I stayed strong, and honestly, finishing that half-marathon was probably one of my greatest accomplishments because I did it for ME and not for my partner, society, or anyone else.

  51. When I got engaged I confess I started looking at myself in terms of “how will I look in a wedding dress, in photos that will last forever?”. However, I am actually glad I did, if only because that was my wake-up call that I really had gotten unhealthily large. I honestly didn’t realize it before. Sure, I kept having to buy new clothes, and didn’t like the way I looked in anything, but I never had before anyway, and nobody was calling me fat, so I just… didn’t realize. So I started losing weight and exercising a little, and I felt wonderful and empowered and all the things that come with being a healthy weight. But then the tables turned again and I started making my goal a date (the wedding) instead of a feeling or a ratio (BMI) or something. I started telling myself I had to lose X pounds by this date. Which was a good motivator for me, but then left me feeling relieved and done with health management after the wedding. I gained almost everything back after the wedding, because I had made that my goal instead of a healthy lifestyle. Argh! So now I have to try to motivate myself back to health again. Ah well. I am learning to love my body without becoming accepting of my health problems, mostly with help from OBB, so hopefully I can feel pretty but still motivated to be healthy. ๐Ÿ™‚

  52. Being fat at the holidays” link up-thread, and this discussion thread have been eye-opening for me.

    If you switch out “fat” for “divorced”, then you have the essence of every interaction with my mother, and even a relative stranger or three–essentially, people who feel strangely comfortable judging you and your life. I guess the whiff of “failure” is too tantalizing to resist; some folks seem to delight in projecting their own relationship fears by forecasting my own (repeated) doom. So though I’m not plus-sized, I found this discussion very helpful and surprisingly applicable to my own wedding stresses. Thanks for this.

  53. In struggling with my weight, my mother has made some pretty crass, judgmental, rude, and totally hurtful comments. Coming from a place of love where she thinks she’s supporting me! I had spent WEEKS dreading a trip back to my hometown to visit, because we invariably go shopping (usually sharing a fitting room if they were busy or just to skip the step of walking out to say “what do you think of this?”) and I knew she was going to make commentary about the weight I had gained since the last time she saw me. I was psyching myself up for a big long discussion, I wanted so badly for her to understand that I RECOGNIZED that she was just trying to be helpful, but that I was on the verge of triggering an eating disorder and I didn’t need her to help me get there.

    I stepped out of a fitting room to ask her opinion and said, “Mom, I need your thoughts on how this fits me without making judgey comments about my body.” She was clearly taken aback, but THAT WAS ALL THAT WAS SAID!

    And a year and a half later, there have been no comments about my body, and questions about me going to exercise have been phrased JUUUST differently enough to be noticeable, with a much less aggressive, accusatory, guilt-inducing tone of voice. All that anxiety and it was a flippant, off-hand comment that made the moment work without hurt feelings. It totally could have gone the other way, but I lucked out. I was sure we were going to revert back to our relationship when I was 14 because I totally felt like a petulant child when I said it–but she took it as an adult setting boundaries and it worked!

    If you think your relationship can handle it, a seemingly off-hand comment that’s direct but not “picking a fight” might be the way to go (although mine was totally picking a fight so I don’t necessarily recommend it!). I think ultimately *I* would have been happier with a more in-depth discussion, because I still worry that I made my mom feel bad. So, to each their own.

  54. Wow, the number of replies to the original post just goes to show how much we young women share in common! I didn’t feel pressure to lose while approaching my wedding (which was last week ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), but I did put on a couple of pounds. Stress and being unwell meant that I was unable to maintain my normally active lifestyle. On my wedding day I still managed to feel good about myself, and it was mostly because I was marrying my sweetie and because I had all of the people I love most in the same place to celebrate (and party) with me. With this in mind, I was joyful and totally let any of my body image stuff go.

    I also had a second dress to put on later in the evening, and that happened to help a whole lot as well! ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was an outdoor wedding, and though gorgeous, it was hotter than the hubs of hell being in a wedding dress all day. I had the second dress for ‘just in case’ I felt gross later on, which I did, and I could change into something equally as beautiful as my wedding dress, but more colorful, and comfortable! I was surprised how good I felt about myself after I slipped away and changed, to make my second reveal of the night! No one knew I had the extra dress, so it was a surprise, and I got many more compliments about how pretty I looked. How could that be bad?!?

    Ironically, I had more of a struggle with body image on my honeymoon than I did at the wedding. Now that I’m back to normal life (ie non-planning mania), I feel an urgency to get my life back under control. Settling into a healthy, active lifestyle is my focus now. At least it’s not as daunting as planning a wedding (to me, anyhow)!

  55. About 2-3 years ago, I lost a lot of weight. I stopped working towards my goal weight/fitness and went back to school with about 15 lbs or so left to shed. I ended up taking this summer off and decided to use my new free time to get crackin–I enjoy being fit and active and it was great to have the time to work on my goals.

    Problem is, I’m now engaged. I have a big ol ring on my left hand or on a chain around my neck and that apparently kills any desire for self improvement/change for the sake of improvement/change–it must be because of the wedding. Every trainer I’ve talked to, every fellow gym person I’ve talked to, even my friends and family and future in laws–they all say something like “Oh! So you’ve got a dress to fit into then? Good for you for getting a head start!” WHAT THE FUCK. It makes me so stabby that because I happen to be planning a wedding, anything I decide to do with myself, my life and my body must be focused on that. The rest of my life up until now was just killing time until the Big Day.

    I hate the pressure to be thin and perfect and I hate the idea that I’m just working towards being a motherfucking princess and that I’m incapable of thinking, doing or planning anything not wedding related for the next 11 months.

    • I am so with you on this. I’m in the same situation, I lost a lot of weight in the past year for my own health-related reasons, and got engaged a month ago and I’m finding myself involuntarily swept up in the whole “losing weight for the wedding” garbage. Drives me crazy that it’s so ingrained into our culture to assume that I couldn’t possibly be doing it for reasons other than “fitting into” (ugh I hate that phrase) a wedding dress.

  56. My parents have long been concerned about my health, even before I was overweight, because my grandma had diabetes and they are afraid that I will get it, too. And I certainly don’t want to get it! The trouble is that the way my parents broach the subject of my weight, it always manages to make me feel worse about myself, which makes me rebel and want to eat even more. It doesn’t help that my parents are both very active (their retirement helps with that) and my mom and my aunt have both been losing weight with Weight Watchers. I feel like I am under constant assault by reminders about weight from them.

    Now that I am engaged, there is extra (though subtle) pressure from my family to lose weight. My mom, for instance, made a comment about how I should maybe wait to get measured for my dress, “in case you lose any weight.” While this was more positive than saying “in case you gain any weight,” the comment was still very loaded, implying that the way I am right now is not good enough. I also felt awful at the bridal shops I went to. David’s Bridal had nothing in my size, but if I wanted to order something to my measurements, I would have to pay for it up front, and if I didn’t like the result, I’d only get store credit. I didn’t want to risk it. At the other stores I went to, the dresses were all multiple sizes too small for me, and I felt like I was being stuffed into a straightjacket with every dress I tried on. So much for that “you’ll fall in love with your dress” dream! But in addition to the traditional wedding dresses, I also tried on a large number of bridesmaid dresses. I found a knee-length one that I really like, which very much my style (modern, but with a retro feel), has a fitted waist and flared skirt that flatters my curves, and can be ordered in pretty much any color, including ivory. Plus it costs far less than a “real” wedding gown. I tried the dress on in dark blue, so it will be a surprise to me to finally try it on in ivory once it arrives. My mom lives across the country from me, and I emailed her pictures of me trying it on. I also deliberately sent pictures of me in dresses that were much too small, so that the contrast was even more evident, highlighting that the non-traditional dress is far more flattering than the traditional ones.

    My parents offered to help pay for a weight-loss plan, and I finally decided to let them help me, but under my own terms. I told them that I want to do an online program where I can manage my weight myself, rather than feeling obligated to other people’s ideas of what I should be doing, and I told them that I need positive encouragement, not negative nagging. I also emphasized that I am doing this for me, not for my wedding, not for anyone else’s ideas of how I should look in my wedding dress, etc. My fiance loves me just as I am, and thinks my body is incredibly sexy, so I am not doing it for him, either. I did, however, set myself a goal: we want to go hiking in Europe either for our honeymoon next year, or soon thereafter. My goal is to be able to comfortably hike several miles a day for a couple of weeks in a row. No set weight. No set size. Just something that lets me have more fun exploring with my soon-to-be husband.

  57. People are SO nosy about it, no matter your size. I’m 6ft tall and 160lbs, putting me at about a size 8 or so. I have a little tummy flab and I’ve got some serious baby-birthing-hips, but I’m not really a big girl. I had a customer of mine ask “So, how much weight did you lose for your wedding?” Wait.. what? Um, none?

  58. There is a whole movement of Fat Admirers (who refer to themselves as “FA”) who are slowly coming out of the woodwork. Maybe your mom could check out some of those websites and get a feel for how the negative comments make people who love fat people (and fat people themselves!) feel. She obviously thinks she’s helping, and might just need a new point of view. My mom put me on my first diet when I was 7 years old, and it’s been an uphill battle since then. I’m 30 now, and she’s mostly given up… but we haven’t been dress shopping yet. I AM getting lots of static from my friends though, which makes me wonder why it’s ok for me to go about daily life being overweight, but not ok to be overweight on this ONE DAY? =/ Whatever.

  59. I find turning it around works quite well (though is a little rude).
    When people ask if you are trying to loose weight for the wedding, hold their hand, look into their eyes and say,
    “I’m so sorry, is everything ok at home? Because verbal abuse is still abuse. My partner loves me the way I am an doesn’t need me to change, don’t ever let anyone try and change you.”
    It makes them realize how hideous they sound, and you don’t get shouty! ๐Ÿ™‚

  60. I’m getting married in four weeks. I chose not to diet. There are several reasons why, but the main one is this: I’ve witnessed several friends lose weight for their weddings, then put it back on again afterwards and beat themselves up about it…for years. “I now weigh two stone more than I did on my wedding day *sob*.”

    I don’t want to be comparing myself to an unrealistic, unsustainable ‘wedding-day weight’ for the rest of my life.

  61. Erh.Merh.Garrhhhh. Or rather, OhMyGod, look at all these posts. A nerve’s been hit. And I know I’m not alone in my worries.

    I have always struggled to love myself because of my weight. My boyfriend of nine years proposed last summer when my mother was sick and dying. We were out walking our dog, and it was Mother’s Day weekend. He had to hurry home to go back to work, and he popped the question. My first answer was “Yes!” My second answer was “Yes, but…is it just because of the cancer?”

    He assured me it wasn’t, though I doubted it for months after. I said I wanted to ask for my mother’s blessing. When we got back with the dog, we said we had big news. Mom looked expectant. David told her and she stood right up as if she was as fit as ever. She hugged us both and we gave her flowers from the mountainside, and she rushed to find her old rings in exchange.

    But as some dire weeks passed, she also sat up late at night watching “Say Yes To The Dress” and showing her open disgust at plus-sized brides-to-be, letting me know if I was to be married, I’d better not disappoint her beyond the grave.

    “When I die, don’t get fat!” she said. “I know you’re easily depressed!” I didn’t know if I’d shared extra stressful news with her along with the reality of her condition. Maybe we shouldn’t have told her about our engagement? She was dying…but I might get fat and look ugly in some dumb frock from David’s Bridal. And there was no time for a quick wedding what with our plans to get Mom home for a final visit to Finland, where she hadn’t visited in ten years since her own Mom’s passing, and our hands were full already organizing hospice and preparing ourselves to understand and communicate with hospice services abroad.

    The good/bad news is she made it home and died there. I think it’s what she wanted, though I can’t be sure. Maybe she got all caught up in the barn-raisin’ atmosphere of “get Mama home” and never felt brave enough to speak up for what she really wanted. Maybe it all felt like a train speeding out of control. But now, just over a year past her loss, I feel terribly guilty for getting married…and getting fat.

    I got her old dress out of the bottom of a box. She’d never showed it to me to hope about because she was always thinner. It upset me to hear that my awesome friend, a dressmaker doing me such a huge kindness in tailor making my dress so that I don’t even have to know what the hell size I am, had to “block” the lace sleeves to expand them. I thought, “Mama would be so disappointed.”

    It took months to get it started, but I’m now going to a bereavement group. It seems odd to do this in tandem with wedding planning but at least I feel I have a place ot put my grief and not just feel guilty about the bittersweetness of honoring a sacrament of marriage without her. I know I should be talking about body issues but body and spirit are to me the same. I’d love to see some posts on Offbeat Bride about honoring loved ones who’ve passed away. Right now I feel the only way to honor Mom would be to magically become the 30- or 40-pounds lighter person she thought I’d be if I’d just put down the comfort food for a while.

    Yes, the self-loathing is just so tiresome and I’m sorry to risk posting it here, as I respect the Tribe’s statements at the time I joined. But equally tiresome is the pressure from comments of “Oh, you’ll be so beautiful on your big day!” when you just don’t believe it, and here, I’m seeking some support on that. Sometimes I just want to hear the truth: You’re very organized, and thanks for getting out your invitations on time. No pressure to be pretty!

  62. My mom and I have been at war over my weight since forever. So I was prepared for the weight loss pressure when my fella produced an engagement ring. I chose to not try to lose weight for a lot of reasons…

    Very top of the list, he fell in love with me and my curves the way we look now. So I knew what his vote would be.

    Then I started making my DIY list. OH MY GOODNESS!!!! I’m a professional floral designer, broke and crafty. We were paying for this shindig ourselves, so I was out to save every dime I could. All the decorations and flowers were my babies. We had an outdoor ceremony and an indoor reception, so some of the decorating could be done the night before, but the bride was still up at 6am decorating a gazebo the morning of. Plus, we home catered. A dessert buffet. I made several things I had never made before, and everything had to be tasted. (Filled cakeballs decorated like hand dipped chocolates, baklava, bite sized cheesecakes, Italian Creme Cakeโ€ฆโ€ฆโ€ฆand lots more) We had a full on BBQ dinner, most of which was made the night before. Who needed all the pressure of weighing, counting calories and all that?

    Besides, on a short notice, I bought my awesome, first choice, gotta have it dress secondhand at a great deal. So my goal became maintaining my weight so that it wasn’t too tough for my amazing cousin to make it fit like a glove. I threw in some fire engine red accessories and felt like a 1940s movie star as I walked down the aisle. DH had tears in his eyes, and our nephew was whispering that I looked beautiful, what else can a girl ask for?

  63. This is a wonderful article and a legitmate concern! I’m a bride to be, and while no one is pushing me to lose weight, I have been beating myself up about losing weight for the wedding because I want to look and feel beautiful – and I want to enjoy my photos. I saw this posted on Facebook the other day, and reading it nearly made me cry. It’s a blog post from a photographer, who makes such an incredible point, it’s really helped me change how hard I am on my own self-image!
    I highly, HIGHLY recommend it! It’s eye opening and profound.

  64. I’m overweight. I get given reserved seats in public transportation a lot, because people think I’m pregnant. It’s not like I don’t care, but I had made the decision of not trying to lose it before the wedding.

    ALL women I interacted with during the wedding preparation told me I HAD to lose weight, with the sole exception of the vendor who sold me my dress (other vendors said something on the lines of “should” rather than “have”). My vendor actually asked me to maintain my weight, so there wouldn’t be problems with the dress fitting. To all the others (including mom and mother-in-law) I simply, but forcefully, said “I don’t have to and I won’t lose weight. My guy loves me the way I am, he doesn’t need me to be thinner to think I’m pretty”. After a few times of this, they stopped bugging me.

    With the vendors who told me they thought they didn’t have dresses that would look good on me, or pressured me to try pregnancy wedding dresses, I just showed them: I would insist on trying on dresses that I liked, rather than the ones they chose, and to their amazement they would look good on me. Because, like you say, brides are beautiful, no matter their weight!
    So my advice is: if you decide your weight is the one you’re taking with you on your wedding day, say so and say it as frequently as needed. Avoid being bitchy (it’s super hard, sometimes, especially when you’re being told the same thing for the 20th time!) but show your decision has been made and nothing will make you change your mind. Rock that gorgeous bod with pride!

  65. Wow. What a great article. I guess I just grew up with a different mind-set. I can’t imagine my mother telling me I need to loose weight to look good in a wedding dress. This time in your life is already stressful enough, there’s no need to add any extra stresses on your life because of somebody else’s opinion.

    I am a wedding photographer and have seen all shapes and sizes and can tell you 100%, every bride I have seen is beautiful. Every bride has that amazing glow about her on the day of her wedding, and your photos will show this.

    Screw what anyone else thinks. As long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters.
    Never change anything about you for anyone but yourself.

  66. I love this post. I am a plus size bride marrying in December. I have always been curvy but over the last few years piled on quite a bit more weight due to some health issues. My partner loves me exactly the way I am, but my mother keeps pestering me about how i will get some weight off before the wedding. To be honest, I would love to loose some weight, but I am not going to go on a diet, I am eating healthy, watching portion size and exercising. My 18 year old son is annorexic and I don’t ever want to show him that weight defines who I am. I am having my dress made and the dress maker, bless her heart, told me my curves are to be celebrated. I will look great in a dress made for me!

  67. I think wedding planning was the only time in my entire life that mum didn’t hound me to lose weight which I found very refreshing and I think I still expected it from her the entire time. Honestly I’m plus sized and what ever I did I was still going to be plus sized and well I had a wedding to plan. A lot of other people (including most of his family) talking to me about dieting to fit into a dress but I pointed out how silly it was in my circumstances to add extra pressure to myself to try and fit into a dress that didn’t fit me or to buy a dress a size smaller hoping I would fit into it by the wedding. In fact I had bought a dress a size larger, with a corset so I didn’t need to worry about it. Most of them shut up after that.

    I was worried about the dress shopping too. I ended up ringing around dress shops to ask what sized dresses they had on the rack for me to try on. I only went to shops that had my size or larger. I found some awesome dresses and actually had a hard time deciding which one I loved more.
    I actually had a far bigger problem with my bridesmaid dresses. All the bridesmaids are much smaller than I am but most of them were blessed with significant cleavage that needed the dress to cover bras (strapless was not going to happen). The shops were far less accommodating for bridesmaids that for brides (despite it meaning more money because of the number of bridesmaids). We ended up having to get their dresses made as we couldn’t find anywhere that had dresses that would fit them all.

  68. My first wedding was full of negative body image issues from all sides. I was told by the grooms grandmother that I was too big for the dress that I was wearing. I was told by my mother & the groom’s that I should choose other bridesmaids because they would make my pictures ugly (we had my pregnant sister and my ex’s best friend of the time who was a big gal). I did not handle those productively, I just told them to get over it (pretty much in those exact words) and did what I wanted anyways. My dress fit & our pictures turned out fine.

    This time around it started last year when my fiance’s sister got married. She asked me to be a bridesmaid at her wedding, which I agreed to do. She never said anything about my size (I’m a petite XL, usually between a 12-16 depending on brand, so I tend to look even bigger), when she was dress shopping she started talking about how she needed to get rid of a few pounds (mind you she is already a size 4) and all of her other bridesmaids were also super skinny. I felt a lot of pressure, even though nobody SAID anything, to be tiny. Finally, I explained to her that her negative body image and self-hate was making me feel uncomfortable. She stopped saying anything around me. I still looked like I was in a big gray sack at her wedding, I blame the dress choice, not my body!

    Fast forward to this year and my wedding, she still said nothing to me about my weight or anything, but began to bug her brother about “getting fit” for the wedding. He doesn’t have any health problems related to his weight, so we all knew what she was talking about. He told her to drop it, but I don’t think she ever will.

    Funny anecdote: While dress shopping with future mother-in-law we came across a very skinny bride (even smaller than her daughter, probably a 1 or 0) who was talking about dropping weight. My fml turned around, at David’s Bridal and said to a complete stranger, “If you lose any weight, there won’t be anything left!” Then proceeded to pick out dresses for fsl to try on. I lost it! Not to say there is anything wrong with being skinny either, that is.

  69. I love this post and am totally choked up reading it. I am a plus size bride too, I get married September 2014. I bought a beautiful dress 2 years ago in a bridal sale. It was a bit tight at the time but I figured it would be fine for when I needed it. Fast forward to now and I am freaking out that I will never fit it. I have various health problems that have caused me to gain weight, plus a mother that thinks I need to be skinny to be a perfect bride because after all ‘you need to look at those pictures for the rest of your life Kirsty’. Its awful that we let other people and their monsters into our heads and hurt us but it is so difficult when that person is your mother. Whenever she mentions it I just feel like eating a massive bit of cake! The wedding industry attitude generally sucks but I’m so glad I found you guys, real people who know every bride looks awesome no matter what she weighs!

  70. Since getting engaged I’ve had multiple people not offer me dessert because they assume I’m dieting. When I have dessert or in general when people make comments about my wedding weight, I just tell them “I’m working on it.” The fact of the matter is that people don’t know what you do when they’re not around. I go to the gym 3 times a week because it makes me feel healthy not because I’m “losing weight for the wedding. So if I want to have dessert by golly I’m gonna get it. Let people know you have a handle on your weight. Even if that means you are doing nothing because you are happy with your self.

  71. I’m a bigger bride and the trying on dresses I think was the hardest part especially in wedding dress world where a size 18 in reality is a wedding size 26!!! (That was a bit hard to swallow). Its just hit new years so I keep being asked by vendors and random people I meet if my new years resolution is to lose weight for the wedding in 8 months. At first it hurt, I wondered why people were so mean and if I should lose more weight.

    And then I realizes these people where taking away from the happiest moment of my life. So I have now ordered my dress in the size I am currently and thats awesome because the more weight I lose the more it will cost for my dress to be altered, I’m not going to give in to the pressure of everyone else and my budget couldnt handle it either ๐Ÿ™‚

  72. Mothers can be VERY hard without really mean it. I wasn’t a plus size bride (I’ll send in our wedding soon!), I had my dress custom made, and that didn’t stop my mom from telling me that I should lose weight… in front of my seamstress at the very first try of what my dress would be. My seamstress looked at her, then looked at me, and said (mouth full of pins, mind you), “you are gorgeous NOW”.

    After nagging me every time we talked in those months, when we reached the 1-month-to-go mark, we talked on the phone and she told me that the ONLY thing I needed was to lose 3 kilos and I was good to go. And I exploded. Apparently, my intent of reasoning (while sobbing in anger) that she had been telling me that I wasn’t going to be pretty on my wedding day… well, she thought that I was nervous, not that I was right >_< so she changed the weight issue with “are you calmer, honey?”

    (FYI, I also lost weight the week before the wedding and my skirt was too loose. My mom was thrilled).

    Now I'm pregnant. I told her my weight pre pregnancy and her first reaction was asking me to put on 12 pounds max. Calmly, I told her that I would put on whatever I needed to because I was making a person. She still asks me to not get too fat from time to time.

    So, a LOT of patience and love for you. It's their issue and you don't have to put up with it. Don't let them get you down, you are your own beautiful independent adult person, and you know what to do to be happy. And in the middle of a stressful time juggling with guests and vendors, if what makes you happy is ice cream, GO FOR IT. Please.

  73. This article has given me a lot to think about. I’m plus-size and have a number of health issues that mean its difficult to loose weight as I don’t have the energy a lot of the time to exercise which is feeding into the guilt.

    I have been using my wedding (in 3 years time) as a motivation to get to a healthy weight long before I need to go dress shopping. I’ve already decided I’m having my dress made but I did want to go and do the trying on dresses thing to see what suits me first as I never got that opportunity for my first wedding, I was forced into wearing a beige blazer, blouse and skirt by my Mother as I was 3 months pregnant with my now 20 year old and was made to feel like I didn’t deserve the wedding dress of my dreams

    My darling beautiful daughter who is one of my bridesmaid, is also of a similar build and has the same underlying health issues as me and I’ve caught myself recently making the same negative comments to her that my Mother and Grandmother said to me when I was her age.

    I need to find a more body positive way of talking to her about both of us getting healthy for the sake of being healthy.

    I thought I’d got to the point where I had accepted that my gorgeous naturally skinny fiancรฉ loves me for me but I suspect that deep down I still feel that he’s only saying it because he loves who I am rather than what I look like and I need to get past that as I wouldn’t want to change him in any way so why should the reverse be true?

    The reasoning behind that is probably months and months of counselling but fundamentally lies in my relationship with my Mother where I was always made to feel that I never was quite good enough for her expectations and therefore don’t deserve to feel good about myself. It was a tempestuous relationship to say the least, although I loved her dearly and now she’s not here and neither is my beloved Nan, I’m guilting myself into meeting their expectations for once.

    • The first step toward changing is admitting. It’s hard to break away from the habits we were taught as children, but I’m glad you recognize and want to change how you speak to your daughter about your bodies. Keep up the positive thinking!

  74. I recently went through this same issue with my own mother. She’s been passive-aggresively bugging me about it for a couple years (along with getting married and having kidsโ€”you know, cause I’m not getting any younger -_-) but once that ring went on my finger it was like she finally had free range to say I needed to lose weight every time she saw me.

    Now, I’m one of those people who believes in loving yourself and your body no matter what. And in all honesty, I’ve watched my mom go from diet to diet my entire life, and while she might lose 10-15 pounds here or there, she’s pretty much always been the same shape/size. I am now also that size/shape. My aunt is, my cousin is. It’s just what we’re meant to look like. I’ve come to grips with that (this is not to say it doesn’t hurt when my mom criticizes me).

    I, like the questioner, also did not want to spend the entire planning process being berated and criticized, so I took a stand early. It only took 2-3 times for it to sink in for herโ€”so if your arguement doesn’t work at first don’t be discouraged, stand your ground.

    I simply explained that I accept my body the way it is, that my fiance loves me the way I am, and that there are a million other things for me to stress about for this wedding, I don’t want my weight to be one of them. Also, I’m going to be wearing a corset on my wedding day, so I will look thinner no matter what ๐Ÿ˜‰

    After I explained it a few times she started to realize #1) I wasn’t going to change my mind and #2) that she hadn’t liked when her mother had said/done such things to her (and she never wants to be her mother!)

  75. I am not skinny. I am not obese. I’m the in between that nothing fits. Cute tank tops from Hot Topic or dresses from Torrid. They don’t make a store for me…shopping has always been a struggle. Now that I’m engaged why is there so much pressure? This is what I look like…why do I HAVE to fit into this image? I’ve struggled all my life with weight and today I’m the heaviest I’ve been, and also the most loved by my fiance. I’m not giving in…He loves me like this so I too need to love me like this too. And there’s nothing more I love than to see women on this site not fitting in the standard and marching to their own beautiful, wonderful beat.

  76. This is a really well written article that shows love and respect not only for yourself but for those issuing offensive opinions.
    A family member of mine’s motto is always she would rather that I hear critiques from her than others as it would hurt less. A sweet sentiment but hard to remember when your hearing judgement.
    I’ve suffered with an eating disorder since my early teens, and 2 years ago started to make very good decisions and progress with regards to my body. People think it’s appropriate to imply that – even though I work out regularly and eat a healthy diet – my normal behaviors mean I’m going to make myself sick before my wedding. It’s hard to combat because a) I know they are concerned about me getting hurt, the same way a mother of a plus sized bride might say something insensitive for fear her daughter will have a horrible experience as a result of her size and b) I feel like i don’t have a defense. I was anorexic, you never really stop being unwell you just work hard to combat it. But these comments of “don’t make yourself sick” diminish my hard work trying to achieve the exact thing they are recommending.

    I look forward to holding hands with the next person who says it and saying “I love you and I understand this comes from a place of concern, but I’m done with this conversation”

  77. I’m really a bit jealous to everyone of you who can at least reason with their moms and others with their loving advice. In my case, I question the love behind the advice as much as the fact that there can be any reasoning other than “just shut it”.

    I come from a rather toxic family and my mom has quite a history with eating disorders of her own. Basically, “dieting” has been part of my vocabulary probably before I even went to school; a fact that has not stopped me from fluctuating between BMI’s 16 to 35ish. I personally have gotten a hold of myself and my weight issues only around my thirties and still suffer extremely bad body image issues every now and then. My mom has never, ever, ever hidden the fact that she is one of those who just adore the skinny people and I will never get away with that. I’m not obese, but still ratheron the big side simply since I’m over 6ft tall, muscular with a big butt, strong thighs and… LOVING IT. So is my FH, what a surprise.

    I’m not getting a long dress and that has been a conversational piece number one(“but your thighs”), rivaled only with conversations on how would “the weight” go (“oh, body cleanse diet”, “oh oh! lemon juice!”)… Well, you get the picture. The thing is, I do understand that this is some really twisted way of just thinking that well, she wants to be pretty, but it comes out in SUCH a toxic and violating way because of my mothers own eating disorders that are probably still very much present in her. If someone else knows a good way to talk this through, other than my already signature-like “mom, my life, my choice, just stfu”, I’m open but the real cure would probably be a couple of year’s worth of therapy.

    Sorry about this very personal rant, but I must really say that THIS is exactly why Offbeat Bride must be one of the best things I have ever found on the Internet. Not only this helps me see the tiny spark of good intention in my moms bloopers, it really, really reminds me that I don’t need to be her.

  78. I decided to join a gym BEFORE we’d set a wedding date. In fact we’d been engaged for nearly 2 years so wedding plans were still non-existent. I joined the gym in November 2014 and it wasn’t until January 2015 we decided to start planning our wedding for October this year. What I find insanely annoying is all the comments I get about how I’m ‘losing weight for the wedding’ and I have to stop people and explain to them that it has nothing to do with the wedding!! I’m doing this for ME and not for anyone or anything else. Sometimes it’s followed up with a ‘Yeah.. sure you are’ but I have learned to ignore it. FRUSTRATING MUCH!?

  79. One more thing I’d like to add on this subject.. My mum has always made remarks towards my sister and I regarding our weight. Then one fine day, I lost my shit.
    We were having bacon and eggs for breakfast at mum and dads (staying home for the weekend, I was in my mid 20’s at the time) when I mentioned my partner and I liked to have bacon and eggs most weekends. My mum gave me a smirk, held my waist and said ‘Yes dear, I can tell!’
    At that very moment, I snapped. ‘How dare you!’ From there I let it flow.. I can’t remember exactly what I said but I finally let out what I’d wanted to say for a long time. I went on about how my size doesn’t matter, she’s always commented on my weight even when I was at my smallest. I don’t give a flying fuck about my size and neither should she. I recall bursting into tears and yelling through those tears – in front of everyone. ‘Your my mum and you’re meant to love me for who I am not how I look!’ (I remember saying that bit..)

    After my explosion my mum looked like she was about to cry herself. She was terribly sorry, she didn’t mean it like that and didn’t realise she was hurting me. (apparently she thought if she didn’t say anything, no one would and I’d never know.. uh huh) Since then, mum has never ever said a bad word about my weight ๐Ÿ™‚ She’s never forgotten the incident so thankfully I got through to her.

    So I guess there’s a 3rd option for those who really don’t know how to get through to their mothers (or anyone for that matter!) and unfortunately it requires a blow-up moment but hey, it worked for me!

  80. It is a challenge to deal with family members and friends opinions of how we should look. A wedding being such a special event just amplifies the pressure to lose weight. I am very fortunate in that my mother is non-judgmental; therefore I never received from my mother any critic or opinion of my body weight. That is really a relief during wedding planning.
    It is great that you are giving us the readers 2 communication options: quick and long one. The pressure of losing weight can come up at different times therefore it is good to learn to free ourselves from others opinions. A complementary information about this subject can be found:

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