Not only does “shedding for the wedding” miss the point of matrimony, it can be downright dangerous. It’s June, and that means the wedding season is in full swing. While it should be a time to celebrate love and commitment, in our extreme culture, crash diets and other unsafe measures often become the focus for brides and grooms alike. In their race to become as thin and lean as possible for the big day, they make themselves miserable, stress themselves out, and potentially damage their health.
Could that walk down the aisle be the path to an eating disorder? Many experts say that all that pressure to be thin for their wedding day could put brides and grooms at risk for developing eating disorders, and research says they’re right. Studies have shown popular weight loss trends associated with dieting force individuals to be consumed with calorie counting, weight loss, exercise, and food restriction, hallmarks of disordered eating. The National Eating Disorders Association reports that 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting and that 20-25% of those individuals develop eating disorders.
Cultural pressures are at the root of it all. In today’s society, we’re bombarded by images that represent a very narrow definition of beauty or attractiveness, and we see the same problem in bridal magazines and advertising. And thanks in part to social media, now more than ever, it’s easier to compare ourselves to each other, and not in the healthiest ways. The ‘thin ideal’ has become so internalized that brides and grooms may not only feel the pressure from the media, but also from well-intentioned friends and family members who are encouraging them to lose weight in order to ‘look their best’ on the big day.
Bring back the joy in wedding preparation. Marriage is supposed to represent one of the most positive, joyous milestones in a person’s life. But the planning, politics, exorbitant costs, and pressure to look a certain way can turn the process into a nightmare. If you’re a bride- or groom-to-be, try this litmus test: Are your thoughts and behaviors around food, weight, and body image making it difficult for you to enjoy life and revel in the wedding process? Are you feeling self-conscious and body-loathing? If so, then it’s time to take a step back and get a fresh perspective.
Focus on your experience of the day. Losing weight is definitely not a requirement to look good. It’s far more important to meet a broad definition of healthy – including physical, emotional and spiritual – and to enjoy yourself, no matter your weight. There is so much more to be grateful for and excited about for your wedding—the partner you chose to spend your life with, the friends and family who are coming to support you, the honeymoon you may be taking. If you’re feeling pressure to lose weight, remind yourself that those in attendance will be there to celebrate two people they care about, not what you look like. Refocus your attention on connecting with friends and loved ones, making new acquaintances, bonding with your new family members, and enjoying the celebration. Weddings are all about the memories you make, so immerse yourself in the experience. If you do, you’ll be able to look back and say, “Man, that was fun! I had the best time at my wedding!” Isn’t that what it’s really all about?
If you or a loved one may be suffering from an eating disorder, please contact us. We’re always here for you and we’re happy to help.