Brides & Body-Shaming: Why We Do It & How to Stop

Body-shaming has been a trending topic on social media for a while, sparking heated conversations from men and women, including some of the top celebrities of today. With self-proclaimed fitness gurus popping up left and right, you can’t watch one cat video without the fear of seeing another transformation or pictures of tiny meals with an Insta filter. These posts get shared, liked, and commented on, and suddenly everyone has something to say about someone else’s body. When analyzing the do’s and don’ts of this topic, many (including myself) feel as though you can’t say a word about another person’s figure without having to apologize two seconds later. Words like “skinny,” “thin,” and “curvy” are now taboo. Then again, why are we talking about other people’s bodies at all? So let’s say you stop criticizing others—that’s a step in the right direction. You decide to keep your comments to yourself and focus on your own figure. Well, that’s when body-shaming gets even uglier. Self-criticism is one of the worst things an individual can do, and yet we all do it—all day. From the moment I wake up in the morning until I go to bed at night, I’m checking mirrors, sucking in my stomach, playing with my hair, and constantly comparing my body and appearance to those around me. God, I’d kill for those abs. Do I look fat today? I feel bloated. I wonder if my boyfriend noticed the five pounds I put on last week. I need to get to the gym today. You’re an idiot for eating that cookie after lunch. Do you have any self-control? Get it together. #NoExcuses. What are we doing to ourselves? bride-in-kennedy-blue

Photo by Whim Photography

Bride Shaming: A new kind of criticism.

I’ve always been aware of body criticism and fat shaming, but it became even more apparent when I started working in the wedding industry. The pressure brides put on themselves is insane. Not only are they planning an event for 150+ people, but most are trying to lose weight before the wedding so they can look “skinny” in their photos. When planning, brides browse magazines, Pinterest, blogs, and more. They see a model in their dream dress and think, “I need to look that good.” Or they see a segment on the morning news on how to get rid of “flabby arms” or stop “chub rub” in its tracks. Even worse, they go shopping for bridal gowns and see another bride-to-be in a similar style. And so the comparisons begin… She’s way prettier in that dress. I can’t buy it now! Her ass fills it out way better. God, I look awful. Take it off. TAKE IT OFF! And bridal gown sizes make the struggle real. Your consultant may recommend a gown that’s 4 sizes larger than what you normally wear. Thanks to European sizing and designers’ refusal to evolve size charts to match modern day norms, brides begin to panic in their dressing rooms. Just try to remember it’s not you, it’s the industry. So let’s define what’s happening here. I call it “Bride Shaming.” This new form of criticism can put an irremovable damper on the planning process. What terminology should you avoid when referring to yourself or others? How can we change the conversation? If you’re planning your big day, there’s no better time to get a handle on your insecurities and the way you treat yourself. Someone loves you very much—it’s time to start loving yourself. bride-looking-in-mirror-at-gown

Photo by Brian Bossany Photography

15 Things to Never Say About Someone’s Figure (Including Yours):

1. Fat 2. Skinny 3. Slim 4. Buff 5. Chunky 6. Eat a sandwich 7. Anorexic 8. Flat as a board 9. Chub rub 10. Dad Bod 11. Arm flab 12. Boyish 13. Flabby 14. Bikini body 15. Kardashian ass Do some of these surprise you? So I can’t call someone skinny now? And what’s wrong with boyish? Isn’t that way better than my huge chest and hips? Wrong. bride-looking-at-mirror

Photo by One:One Photography

First, skinny-shaming is just as toxic as fat. While I’m proud that companies like Lane Bryant and Dove are showing adoration for all figure types, sometimes skinny girls get tossed under the bus. Many models and petite actresses are told to “eat a sandwich” or that they look “anorexic.” In her song “Anaconda,” Niki Minaj has some shameful words for those skinny B’s in the club. Quite suddenly, the media has turned on the “thin” women of the world. What about athletes? They’re “boyish,” “buff,” “flat as a board”…the list goes on. Many brides complain about their “broad shoulders” or “masculine” figures. This self-criticism is caused—once again—by the media. They’re told that ladies aren’t supposed to be muscular. Without curves and a little fat on their bones, they no longer look like a woman. Men deal with the same commentary. The “Dad Bod” has gotten a lot of attention lately. Beer bellies are ‘in’ and biceps are ‘out,’ says social media. Leonardo DiCaprio, Seth Rogan, and Jason Segal are “rocking” Dad Bods. Perhaps Chris Pratt shouldn’t have buffed up? Would he be hotter without his new abs? What if the people saying these things are those you love and trust most? Many women have a mother, sister, or other female family member who consistently comments on their figure. Getting over the public’s definition of “pretty” is one thing, but ignoring your mother’s digs is another. While I understand that they’re coming from a good place, comments like, “Have you been stress eating again?” or “Those pants look a little tight, hon…” can be detrimental blows to a girl’s confidence. Now imagine them as you try on bridal gowns. bride-getting-buttoned-up

Photo by One:One Photography

Brides under attack.

I always recommend bringing a small entourage of loved ones to your appointment, but remember that their opinions are just that. Some of the commentary is awful. “You’re busting out of that dress” or “that gown gives you back cleavage” are common bride-shaming phrases. First of all, the samples you try on are unaltered and probably not your size. Second, you need to tell them to shush! These comments are not helpful or factual. As women, we need to work on how we talk about one another’s bodies so we can set an example for society. If you’re a bride, let your family know which opinions are helpful and which are not. As a member of the entourage, keep your bride’s confidence levels up and remind yourself that this is her dream dress. Ask yourself: Which one matches her personality and makes her unique beauty glow? The moral of the story? There’s no satisfying the public. One minute you’re supposed to be 100 pounds and the next you need a Kardashian ass. When I see the list of terms above, I realize I’m spending too much time comparing myself to celebrities, models, and my own friends. What I should be doing is considering a better version of myself. But what does that mean? bride-in-mori-lee-dress

Photo by Eileen K. Photography

Discover your own definition of beautiful.

You know what drives me nuts? The hashtag #NoExcuses. I’m sorry, I have plenty of valid excuses. I have a full-time job, an energetic dog, lots of friends I want to see, an obsession for good beer, a love for all things cheese-related, and a belief that watching Netflix is therapeutic. Does that mean I’m unhealthy? Of course not! I’m a 24-year-old woman living a life I enjoy. I don’t plan on spending more hours in the gym or eating fewer calories anytime soon. I eat food that energizes me, stay active doing activities I enjoy, and set goals for myself that are attainable and lead to one thing: Wellness. So what personal goals should you set? Instead of planning a diet or wedding workout routine, ask yourself a simple question: Are you healthy? Do you feel well-rested in the morning? Do you have energy throughout the day? Are you staying active by doing things you enjoy? Are you keeping stress levels low as you plan the big day? Are you continuing to build your relationship with your fiancé? Are you spending time with loved ones and friends, and remembering to ask them about their own lives? Are you happy? These questions can be hard to answer, but the solutions don’t have to be. Planning your big day can result in high levels of stress—it’s understandable. You need to take care of yourself! Drink lots of water, get plenty of sleep, remind yourself to relax, and take each task one step at a time. Enjoy a well-balanced diet that’s full of nutrients, but splurge on occasion to satisfy those cravings. Everything in moderation. To me, “beautiful” should mean waking up each day and feeling strong and happy. It means looking in the mirror and seeing someone who’s taking care of themselves and focusing on all the areas of Wellness. Are you physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally healthy? Track this. Add it to your wedding planning binder. bride-with-henna-hands

Photo by Adam Kennedy Photography

How to start living well.

It took me a long time to stop using the scale as my sole measurement of health. And—believe me—it’s still a daily struggle. I understand that there are a lot of contributors to self-criticism and body image issues, including stress and mental health. But I believe that breaking your definition of “healthy” into the four categories I mentioned above can make it a lot easier. A change in perspective can do wonders—it did for me. So, take a step back. Ignore that mirror for a second and ask yourself if you’re really taking care of yourself. If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by that latest diet or exercise routine, you need to take a break. Change it up! Spend some time focusing on those other areas I mentioned. Read that book you’ve been dying to start, go on a long walk with your dog, enjoy a romantic home-cooked dinner with your fiancé, or take a long, cozy nap. Since I started focusing on every area of Wellness, I have seen more success in my physical health. I said it before and I’ll say it again: It’s all about the balance, baby. shop bridal gowns

Photo by Spencer Combs Photography

Tell yourself you’re beautiful—right now.

Set attainable goals, take care of yourself, and stop comparing your ass to Kim Kardashian’s. Work on self-acceptance—flaws and all. Remember that you’re getting married. Someone finds you quite breathtaking, and they’ve managed to accept your flaws. It’s time you look in the mirror and do the same. While you work on this, help a fellow human out. Compliment others, and not just your friends. Think about how wonderful you feel when a stranger tells you your hair looks nice or your new dress is cool. Why not spread the love? One compliment from you could lead to one large step in another person’s path to self-acceptance. The body image conversation will always be there. If we can’t get rid of it, we might as well change it. bridal-party-in-floral-robes

Photo by Maison Meredith Photography

Now go find your dream dress. The one that shows off your personality and unique look. The one that highlights every part of your healthy, incredible body. The one that makes you feel beautiful. You may also enjoy... bad stereotypes about brides pre-baby-bucket-list Hidden-Wedding-Costs

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Katelynn Brooks
May 16, 2019 08:15

also I’ve just read like 3 of your articles and all three left me feeling a lot more peaceful and less like a stressed out pigeon. So thank you.

Katelynn Brooks
May 16, 2019 08:15

I just read your article and it made me feel a lot better. I tried on dresses yesterday and felt beautiful, and then the dress went off and I was back in the real world and looked at some of the pictures my entourage took, and instead of thinking I looked beautiful I felt ugly. I was stuck analyzing the things that didn’t look perfect instead of noticing what was pretty. I focused on how my hair was short and it didn’t look like a normal bride. Focused on how my arms looked flabby in the lace sleeves, instead of focusing on how the skirt of that dress made my figure look good. Focused on how the one dress pulled cause it wasn’t the right size, rather than how awesome my shoulders looked. I’m lucky, I had an awesome group with me who sees me as far more beautiful than I see myself and they set me straight. My mom has been talking lace sleeves at me for months, purely because she thinks they’re beautiful, and I was convinced that it’s cause my arms jiggle. Your article helped me realize all this was normal and that it doesn’t mean you’re not beautiful.

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