Before walking down the aisle on my wedding day, I stood in front of a mirror and examined the pudge above my hip bone pushing away my white dress. Immediately, I began to regret my decision to forgo Spanx. My thighs weren’t toned enough, my stomach didn’t have a sculpted outline and my butt was as flat as Florida. I was certain I could have done better.
Women and men who struggle with eating disorders and body-image issues know the special layer of self-loathing weddings can bring. From the pressure to have full, luscious locks to pristine effin' table linens, there is an overwhelming emphasis on outward appearance.
For most of my life, I was the scrawny girl. Into my early 20s, I’d eat a bag of Cheez-Its for dinner and walk up a single flight of stairs to burn it off. My eating habits weren’t exactly nutritious, but the comments about my waif-like figure came in at a steady stream, feeding my need for approval from others.
It wasn’t until I hit my 25th birthday that my metabolism slowed and I began to feel the jiggle around my thighs. The anorexia jokes stopped coming and sadly, I thought that was a bad thing. In a time when every hour at least one person dies from an eating disorder, the seriousness of extreme diets and negative self-talk is sobering.
But I didn't take the warnings seriously and opted to heap layers of self-loathing into my workout routine. Let me stress that my BMI was well within a healthy range and losing weight was not necessary for anything other than some crazy perceived beauty standard set in my mind.
To prepare for my October 2014 wedding, I worked out twice a day, cut carbs, eliminated dairy and was hungry all the time. All the damn time. Needless to say, I was grumpy a lot.
Instead of savoring moments and being proud of my healthy frame for an event that honors the greatest love of my life, I succumbed to the diets and body trends derived from exactly one body standard set by the evil forces of popular culture. I was determined to fit the mold of a Kate — a Middleton or a Moss.
More than 80 percent of women in the U.S. are dissatisfied with their bodies, a number that is insanely high. What exactly are so many of us trying to achieve? The thing is, I knew the statistics and yet I still slipped into the quicksand of body-shaming.
At my bachelorette party in Las Vegas, I remember standing waist-deep in a pool at the Aria Hotel and wondering why none of my friends had said anything about my weight. By that point, I had lost 10 pounds and was craving compliments (because pizza wasn’t in my diet). Before the party, I imagined the shock and awe on my friend’s faces when I donned my leopard bikini. I had expected praise and got nothing, so I assumed I needed to lose more weight to get the reaction I really wanted.
Some days, working out actually helped with the stress of planning a wedding. Creating a seating chart is like jamming broken (and drunken) puzzle pieces together and hoping the overall picture works out (It didn’t). But while exercising, I homed in on looking rail-thin. Four days before my wedding, I had to get my dress tailored because it was too big. It makes me sad to think I thought that was something to be proud of.
When the big day arrived, nobody said a thing about my weight. Again, I had worked so hard and it didn't matter. Although I wasn't expecting an Oscar award for Thinnest Bride, I did think somehow I'd feel more loved as a skinnier version of myself.
But as I walked down the aisle, my husband looked at me with the same adoring eyes he always had. Both of my sisters made me cry during their speeches. Our two best men broke into K-Ci & JoJo’s “All My Life” during their speech, which eventually enticed all of our guests to belt out, “And all my life, baby, baby, I've prayed for someone like you.” It was exactly perfect and the laughter and joy of it had nothing to do with my body.
Dancing with my husband with all of my favorite humans within reach, I realized nobody cared about the 15 pounds I shed. That day not only led to learning to love my partner more completely, but it also made me realize I had some serious self-care to do.
Sadly, my wedding dress got stolen last year from our apartment while my husband and I were moving. Although I feel creeped out that some insane person is likely doing the tango alone in his kitchen with my dress, I’m happy that damn thing is out of my life. The fitted lines of the dress oppressed me for far too long. Goodbye, wedding pressure. Hello, body confidence!
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