Sitting here writing this I already feel like a fraud. Those who follow my social media & who read my recent blog post on fitness obsession will know that I have been struggling to find a balance between my formerly active lifestyle & a more balanced approach since leaving my boutique gym & a period of poor health.
I have been reading & writing a lot about non diet approach nutrition; intuitive eating & the non aesthetic benefits of exercise. I have actively worked towards changing my approach to food & fitness to demonstrate to myself & those I care about that there is a more mentally positive way to incorporate healthy behaviours into your life.
Except, as a type this, my fridge is full of chicken sausages, I am snacking on boiled eggs & I haven't eaten any complex carbs since Thursday. I have been following a widely bought diet book which only 3 weeks ago my close friends told me not to buy because they did not think I was in a strong enough place to manage my issues around food. And why? Because I am getting married in 3 months.
If you have ever got married, been a bridesmaid or even just aimlessly flipped through a bridal magazine, you probably will have some idea of the aesthetic pressures that come with planning a wedding. Not only is your day supposed to be Instagram interiors perfect, but as the bride, you are to look your most radiant & happy. Radiant & happy, sounds great in theory right? Look a little closer though & they are both just synonyms for thin as far as the wedding money machine is concerned.
Bridal dresses come in sample sizes only. Magazines are filled with 'bridal' workouts & diets. There are tips on how to capture your slimmest angle during your wedding photos. Bridal underwear is not longer sexy but has as much construction as a skyscraper. Even those of the strongest minds can feel under significant pressure when faced with this diatribe.
When preparing to write this post I went onto social media to ask for other's experiences of the pressure to lose weight for their wedding. I will preserve their privacy here but some of the responses I heard where shocking. Below is a small snapshot of them:
'I had never been into a bridal boutique before so had no idea that a sample size 10 is basically a 6 by any other name. The consultant looked me up & down, walked away & said to her colleague :'this appointment won't last long.'
'When I went for my first fitting I couldn't get any of the dresses up over my hips. After the 3rd attempt the shop assistant decided to just hold them up in front of me instead so I could 'get some idea' of what they might look like on me. It was clear that it was my fault for not fitting in the dresses.'
'When trying on bridesmaid dresses in a boutique they only carried size 10. After being told there was little point me trying anything on the assistant came back with one 1950s style dress & suggested I might be in luck. Needless to say I got stuck in the dress. When I asked for help the assistant decided it was the right time to tell me that I would have to pay for it if the seams were ripped. I felt humiliated & it ruined what was supposed to be a wonderful day with my best friend.'
I started to feel the pressure myself around my third appointment. Each consultant had asked me which I assume is now a stock question: 'do you plan to lose any weight before the wedding?' The first time I was shocked. It felt like an invasion of my privacy to ask & was the implication that I needed to? I attempted to ignore it, but it got harder & harder to remain steadfast.
When writing this post I was hoping I could wrap it up neatly & say that I have seen that what I am doing is foolish & the joy of my wedding day will have nothing to do with whether I have visible muscle tone whilst walking down the isle. I wish I didn't feel quite so weak minded or easily manipulated by online images of weight loss transformations. I stand here in a conventionally slim, fully able body that aside from some mental health issues, really has no cause for concern & for this reason I feel like a fraud. But this is the situation I find myself in & I hope that by sharing I will not lose some of the kind faith that others have placed in me to speak openly & honestly about mental health & fitness.