Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wedding Gowns

A friend has brought to my attention a TV show where brides race to lose weight so they can fit into their too-small gowns in time for the wedding. The gowns were purchased too small on purpose, as an incentive to lose weight. I am told that this is a common tactic people use to trick themselves into weight loss--buy really cute clothes, and then have them hanging in your closet, making you hate yourself for not being able to wear them, until you are willing to starve yourself or run on a hamster wheel to change your body to fit your clothing.

Well, I'm sorry, but that's really stupid.

First of all, how much money do you have to throw around that you can afford a wardrobe of clothing that you can't even wear? If you don't have the money to spare, and your too-small clothes are really great while your wardrobe that fits you is not so great, then stop throwing your money away on things that are just hanging in your closet, silently accusing you of being unworthy of them. Live for now, and get stuff that fits your body. If you lose weight, whether on purpose or not, larger clothes can be taken in (and if you can afford a double wardrobe, you can afford the seamstress fees).

Secondly, there is nothing wrong with being the size you are. If you accept your actual size instead of squeezing yourself into clothes that don't fit, or staring forlornly at the still-tagged items hanging uselessly in the closet, you will be happier and healthier. You won't have inanimate objects indicting you every time you are trying to decide what to wear. You will be able to breathe after eating lunch. You will enjoy the pretty items that you CAN wear instead of longing for the ones you cannot. You will have removed a constant source of anxiety and depression from your wardrobe, replacing it with items that nurture you by making you feel good about your appearance.

Third, when you are purchasing something as expensive and important as a wedding dress, an item that is very difficult to substitute on short notice, it is foolish to buy a smaller size than you currently are! Wedding gowns generally have a "final fitting" before they are pressed and brought home anyway, so if you have lost weight, it can be adjusted very easily. Adding sizes to a too-small gown, however, is tricky at best. Don't fool around and try to force yourself into a smaller dress.

Finally, people do NOT notice that the bride has lost two dress sizes; they will see the person they have always known in the standard poofy dress. If you're a fat girl, like me, they'll just see the same fat person they always do. If you're thin, they see the same thin person they always do. If your guests are really such shallow jerks that they talk about the bride being fat? Then that's their problem, and they need to grow up. When I go to a wedding, I look at the gown and how pretty it is; I don't snicker because the bride didn't change her body to look different for the ceremony. It is ridiculous to even expect this of the bride. She's the same person, just dressed up a bit. Why isn't her normal body size good enough?

Tell yourself, "No more clothes that don't fit! I deserve to wear nice things that I enjoy, and there is no reason to torture myself because of the number on the tag!"

In a day or so, I'll tell the story of wedding gown shopping (from my first marriage). It's a doozy!


Rachel said...

Aspirational clothing is big amongst eating disordered people. Go to any pro-ana site and one of the "recommendations" they list for people is to buy clothes in a smaller size. Perhaps this is why NEDA is holding an "Embrace your Genes" promotion to celebrate National Eating Disorders Awareness month. The campaign urges women to embrace their diverse body shapes and to get jeans that fit their bodies and to toss those jeans that don't.

I bought a wedding dress that was two sizes smaller, but only because it was the absolute only one and was on the clearance rack for just $200. And it is pretty difficult to size up in a gown. The alterations on my dress, which included adding a corset back, hem and bustle, were more than twice what the dress cost. If I had bought a too-large dress, it would have been much cheaper to size down.

AnnieMcPhee said...

I am watching "Bulging Brides" right now - it's appalling. Basically these women buy gowns two sizes too small, and then bemoan the fact that they don't fit. The woman they are subjecting to (their words) "punishing workouts" is 5'3" and a mere 136 pounds. She looks a tad out of shape, some exercise will do her good. But they ransacked her kitchen and removed all the sugar, all the snacks, blah blah. She's not even fat! Jeez! And I'm sorry, when they showed what she was allegedly eating - the dinner came to 4500 calories (it was a LOT of food) and the lunch came to well over 3000 calories. Altogether it was something like 10 thousand calories per day. The "nutritionist" said she doesn't understand why the woman isn't as big as a house - gee, you think because maybe people don't get fat from eating? And gee, if she's *really* eating that much (it was seriously a lot) it sounds more like she might have a binge eating disorder - a 6 week diet and exercise program will do nothing to help THAT.

What they do after getting people to write down all that they're eating is to put it on tables to show you how much it really is - and then they walk the woman through, as they actually call it, "Your hall of shame." Ah yes, shame. Shame shame shame.

The one before her was 5'8" and 208 pounds. She bought her dress two sizes too small. Her hall of shame wasn't any kind of inordinate number of calories - she's built big, and she was strong and healthy. After she started the diet, she said, and I can relate to this, as we all can, "I'm hungry ALL THE TIME. I think about food constantly. As soon as I eat breakfast I start thinking about when I can eat again." Yeah, sounds real sustainable. And no, she's not being set up for binge eating, not at all. Duh. Sadly, at her wedding (in a dress I thought was pretty ugly) she said she was now set up for living a "healthy" life. Gah.

I couldn't help watching it - it was like a train wreck or something.

AnnieMcPhee said...

Let me just add I read on one of the other blogs about a project where you donate all those clothes you bought too small on purpose, to less fortunate people who can actually wear them, and are encouraged to buy things that actually fit.

Then again you could just buy "SkinnySongs" and get all inspired to fit back into your "Skinny Jeans" (the first song on the CD lol.)

navillus99 said...

I want to echo abigail's comment and hope that Bride's to be take note...You have found a man who loves you for who you are and loves what you look like...stop stressing ladies. It is the single woman that should be freakin' not you lucky womem.

AnnieMcPhee said...

That's another thought that occurred to me, navillus - these women are about to get married...isn't it pretty obvious that their fiances aren't very concerned about these women's weights? The whole thing was disgusting and stupid. (I must say, that personal trainer guy? Was totally buff though lol.)

RioIriri said...

Do you happen to have a link to the blog where you saw the clothing donation thing? :)

AnnieMcPhee said...

I'm a little embarrassed as I see Rachel already mentioned it, but it is the Embrace Your Genes thing - here are two links for it:

Abigail - I finally found your blog thanks to your comment here, and it is teh awesome. I'm devouring it lol.

Mercurior said...

as a man, and a recently married one, i didnt care what she dressed like, she could have dressed in a bin bag, because i wasnt marrying a dress, i wasnt marrying someone who is paranoid about losing weight, (she used to be but i showed her how sexy she was to me and she seems to have broken that habit for the moment anyway). i was marrying my rowan.

she wore black, so did i, the person maketh the clothes not the clothes the person (altered slightly to fit)

AnnieMcPhee said...

LOL - I wore a black dress to my wedding too - I thought I was being uber-cool doing that. Y'know what? I looked hot! I'd just had a baby and weighed less than I did when I got pregnant. And black just suited me. It was a $30 dress,tops, but it looked nice. Really, weddings never appealed to either of us - we got married in court before a judge. Our lovely baby daughter attended, in a beautiful blue dress. Then we went to his parents' house, cracked open some wine, ate a marvellously delicious cake (half chocolate, half vanilla, with chocolate mousse and banana in the middle, moist as all get-out) and had a hella time. I can't think of a wedding that was more nice than that one. :)

Over the next few months I blew up about 70 pounds - you think that diminished his libido? Hell no! By the time daughter was 9 months old I was pregnant again. And to this day he can barely keep his hands off me - all 5'2" and 260 pounds of me. Men just do not always like skeletal model types. Sorry, but it ain't true.

Shinobi said...

I feel like a betrayer of FA because I might have to do this soon. I'm in a wedding this summer, and I'm (Thank GOD) re wearing an old bridesmaids dress from 2 years ago. (Because who can afford another $400 dress? not me, Oh, and if I were thin btw, it would only have been 250. $90 up charge for tall and fat plus alterations. Blah.)

Anyway, I was about 20 pounds thinner then, due to a bout with Mono. I'm going to see if I can still get into it when I go home for easter. But I may have to engage in some horrid regime to fit in it.

I hate being a bridesmaid.

But at least I didn't buy my dress small ON PURPOSE. That is painfully stupid.

Mrs.Millur said...

Wedding Dress shopping was painful. All the samples to try on were 5 sizes smaller than I was. Every dress looked awful, every salesperson look aghast that I should dare to be shopping for a wedding dress, with no intention of adding "starve myself thin" to the to-do list.

Those size 8 samples nearly killed me, though. I was weeping and miserable after a few hours of looking and feeling like crap everywhere I went. A shop called Big Bold & Beautiful in Toronto (I can't find a website for them :( ) saved the day- and my sanity. Their dresses were lovely, and the sample sizes big enough that any woman could try one on, tuck and crimp and imagine how it might look in her size.

It was there that I discovered... I actually DO have an hourglass figure. I found several dresses that made me feel as special as I wanted to feel on my wedding day.

I wound up having a dress made for me, combining all the best features of what I'd tried on. I look at my pictures and never think "I was so fat". I think "I look so happy". I suspect the ability to BREATHE in my dress was helping with that. ;)

Kira said...

I HATED wedding dress shopping. I was engaged a few years ago (called off the wedding, thankfully, as he was a royal jerk!), and my friend and upstairs neighbor was planning her wedding at the same time. At the time I was an "in-betweenie", wearing a US size 10/12, while she was a petite size 6. Of course, as anyone who has gone wedding dress shopping, dresses come in British sizes which are smaller than US sizes. Standard shops still only carried up to size 12 (maybe rarely a 14), and as others have mentioned most of the samples came in even smaller sizes.

It was an incredibly frustrating experience, because she could go in and try on dozens of dresses, many of which would flatter her petite frame. Meanwhile I'd be lucky to find even 2-3 dresses which I could pour myself into, let alone be able to zip/fasten - and most of these were big, poufy, frilly dresses which a) are not my style and b) made me look huge, in my mind.

At that time, I didn't know about plus-size wedding shops (and was so lost in the FoBT at that time that I probably wouldn't have consented to going anyway, and instead would have made every effort to starve myself down to a "standard" size if I'd gone through with the wedding). But I found the whole experience humiliating, between the lack of selection, the expectations placed on brides to be stunningly slim, and the condescension from saleswomen who were alternately pitiful or aghast (as Mrs. Millur experienced).

Btw, I love the idea of the black dress! I may have to steal that idea if/when I do get married.

Susan said...

When I ordered my dress, I ordered it in my size. It actually came in too big, so now I have to be careful about losing too much more weight in order to avoid a huge alterations bill.

It is sad that it is common to assume that the bride must lose weight. Here is a snippet of an actual conversation between me, a good friend of mine (hence know as GFF), and two of our classmates:

Me: I'm so excited; my wedding dress came in. I go pick it up next week!

GFF: That's great!

Classmate#1: So, how much weight do you have to lose.

Classmate #2: Huh? What kind of a question is that?

Me: well, I don't need to lose weight, because I ordered it in my size.

Classmate#1: Oh wow. I could never be a chubby bride. Wait...that came out wrong.

Me: *gapes*

GFF: F*$K off.

JeanC said...

I am thanking the Goddess I have never come across that show zipping thru channels. I'd probably be having to replace the TV :P

Back when I was on the diet-go-round I used to pick up the occasional cute clothing item a size or two small with every intention of fitting into it before the end of the semester. I am SOOOOO glad those days were long gone by the time I got married.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm joining this conversation late, but wow. For months I've been feeling all alone on this issue. Thanks for reminding me I'm not.

I've bookmarked your blog and will be back often. Thank you again!