Wait… did I read that right? You’re a bride and you’re not going to try and lose weight before the big day? Yes, that is correct! It has been thoroughly documented that diets don’t work. In fact, they fail 95-98% of the time resulting in weight regain above and beyond your pre-dieting weight within 1-5 years. Not to mention the misery accompanies restriction… the constant hunger, finishing a meal and already thinking about what and when you’ll eat next, the light-headedness and dizziness, the irritability, the social interference of not being able to go out to eat or have a birthday cake at your nephew’s birthday party because it’s against the “rules,” etc. To keep things simple, dieting is exhausting. It’s time to move on from this idea that health is tied to a number on the scale, a BMI classification, and or a certain body shape. BMI is the most “bogus measure of identity”, and I’ll stand behind that until I die. My guess is that your fiancé isn’t marrying you because your waistline falls below a certain threshold. They are likely marrying you because of the many other gifts you offer to this world—humor, compassion, fun, kindness, etc. There are hundreds of interesting things about you and your body isn’t one of them.

Just because you’ve taken a stance against diet culture within the bridal industry, doesn’t mean that you won’t encounter people who have still adhere to such rigid beliefs. For that, I am sorry. Continue to resist slipping into the viscous cycle of dieting and seek professional help, if needed.

On a Personal Note: I firmly believe that story telling is not only healing for the subject but empowering to others who can relate so I hope this has some sort of therapeutic benefit for you…

While wedding dress shopping, I made my requests clear from the start. I want a dress with boning and structure in the bust area. I don’t want to wear a bra the day of because I want to be my most comfortable self. I envisioned something feminine and romantic. For me, that entails showing some tasteful cleavage. I have large breasts, I am not ashamed, and I have no desire to hide them on my wedding day. Right away, the consultant presented with hesitation stating, “I’m not sure that is possible.” I shrugged it off, knowing what I wanted and confident that I’d be able to find it in the perfect dress. I prefer to shop size-less most of the time, but my stylist didn’t measure me beforehand, so I felt obligated to give them some guidance. After sharing that my dress size is traditionally size “x”, I noticed her pulling dresses four sizes too small. I recognized it as a red-flag in the moment but I just moved on. Trying my best not to dwell. After pulling a number of dresses, I was ready to try some on. It is not uncommon for the stylist to stay in the room to help you get in and out of each dress. After all, there can be a lot of gown & tulle to navigate. However, I will admit that can be a challenging moment– to be in a room with a totally stranger practically naked, so exposed, so vulnerable. We tried the first dress on… one of the stylist’s picks of course… and couldn’t maneuver it past my butt. I normally wouldn’t have been bothered by this; however, it was the commentary from the consultant that followed that really stuck a cord within: “oh… none of these dresses are going to be able to squeeze past your butt.” “I’m going to have to go pull some bigger dresses.” Well, no kidding lady! These dresses are four sizes too small. As the appointment progressed, the consultant kept pulling dress after dress that was nothing like I envisioned: high necklines, sleeves, etc. Her idea of dressing room chatter was asking if I planned on wearing Spanx the day of. First of all, no one is morally obligated to wear anything to compress in their mid-region. EVER! And second of all, I don’t want to hide my body on my wedding day. Needless to say, the consultant struggled to pick up on my frustrations despite setting multiple, verbal, and direct boundaries. After 30-45 minutes, my posse and I left. We had no desire to use the full 60-90 minutes blocked off. Although this was a less than ideal experience, it gave me some insight to pass along to my fellow brides-to-be. I hope you find them useful.

Strategies for Finding a Body Inclusive Bridal Boutique:

  • Check their website and social media pages. Representation matters. Looks for stores that use their online platform to acknowledge that body diversity exists. This boutique’s website and Facebook page would show models in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and ages.
  • Does their online presence align with their in-store set up? When you pull up to the store front, is only one size featured on the mannequins in the window? If so, how does it make you feel? If caution signs and red flags are flashing in your head, trust your gut and start backing out of the parking lot. The surveillance doesn’t stop once you enter the store. Look around. How is the store organized? Are larger dress sizes shoved in a dusty conner? Do they carry a variety of dresses in ALL sizes, or does it seem like certain sizes dominants the showroom floor?
  • Be clear. Be direct. Are they listening to what you what? Are they pulling dresses that align with your vison?
  • Trust Your Gut. If a stylist is using language that feels triggering, set a boundary. It can be verbal or non-verbal. When in doubt, end your appointment early and walk out. You wouldn’t want to give your money to business that has no appreciation for how diverse the human body is anyway.

Good luck! And reminder… be kind, be gentle, a body is a just a body.

Emily, RDN, CD
Green Bay, Wisconsin