The Sexist

Sexist Comments of the Week: Wedding Day “Health” Edition

Last week on the Sexist, we payed tribute to the wedding industry's focus on women's "health," as evidenced through its tireless "BIG DAY" diet promotions, its images of women squeezing into too-small white dresses, and its total obsession with brides, not grooms. Commenters weighed in (GET IT?):

Shinobi on what wedding "health" looks like:

I remember one time a friend of mine was eating nothing but special K for two weeks before her wedding. (to fit into her dress, which she had purchased while on weight watchers.) Our conversations were pretty much limited to what she had eaten for the last two days, oh yeah, super interesting. When I failed to be particularly supportive she was all “Don’t you want me to be HEALTHY!?!?!?!?!”

And so I realized the error of my ways. The true road to health is crash dieting to fit into dresses.

Jess on the very healthy double standards of wedding "health":

I am getting married in October, and I cannot believe the amount of pressure I am getting from family and coworkers about my weight. I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers, having met my goal a long time ago. I am a healthy weight for my height (5′9, 150lbs) and my wedding dress is a size 8. But all my coworkers and some annoying family members are telling me that I really should “tone up” or take off about 10 more lbs. Why? Why am I supposed to starve myself for a freaking wedding?! Not a chance!

Oh, and my fiance is about 25lbs overweight. No one has said a word to him about his weight and the wedding.

juicepockets on the beautiful moments that a focus on wedding "health" inspires between family members:

I was a fat bride three years ago (am still fat), and the amount of guff I got from my mom about it was alternately infuriating and heartbreaking. At one of my dress fittings, my mom looked at my reflection in the mirror and said sadly, “Your arms are so big.” Oh well, I wore the shit out of my sleeveless dress anyway!If you want an antitode to the People piece, take a look at the Museum of Fat Love.

Lesley of created the site to document ACTUAL EVIDENCE that fatties can and do find love and even sometimes GET MARRIED WHILE FAT. The gallery is full of adorable fatties in love.

PD on the media's helpful focus on wedding "health":

I was a fat bride two years ago. I’ve gotten fatter since—the back of my dress kept popping open because I’d put on a few pounds right before the wedding, and my husband shed blood trying to pin me back into it. Frankly, I think I looked great on my wedding day, probably better than I ever have in my life including my high school days, when I was definitely at my most fit.

No one who knows me personally—besides my mother, who does it all the time—suggested I try to lose weight in the two years I spent planning my wedding. I was, however, inundated with weight loss advice from the numerous wedding-related magazines and web sites I immersed myself in. Everywhere I looked I saw ads for “GET FIT FOR THE BIG DAY” schemes, and everyone on the internet was really, really invested, apparently, in making sure I was as trim and toned as possible before walking down the aisle. HOW DARE I be fat on my wedding day, when EVERYONE IN THE WORLD would see those pictures FOREVER? How dare I look at those pictures and think about how happy everyone was and what a great time we all had and how great the man I married is instead of focusing on how flabby my arms looked that day?

Listen, I’m like 70 pounds overweight, I know this is not great and it’s not healthy. I’m down with that. I’m also down with my own body—the body my husband has loved for 10 years, from 150 pounds to 230 pounds—even if the rest of the world is not. The wedding weight loss thing is, like pretty much everything else related to weddings, a scam to make money and make women feel like they have to conform to a certain standard of what brides should look like. I’m pretty sure your “bridal white” yoga mat costs twice as much as a regular one because someone screen-printed some doves and “FUTURE MRS. ____” on it or something.

Photo via sylvar, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

  • Keith B

    Wow, Amanda makes a post supporting posts that support her earlier post! A+. There are no issues, only harmonious agreement!

    "And so I realized the error of my ways. The true road to health is crash dieting to fit into dresses."

    Requisite amount of snark for The Sexist, but completely irrelevant to the original topic.

  • Kristina

    Wow, Keith B is cranky that nobody is listening to him whine. Shocking. These are comments of the week. Namely, Amanda's favorite comments of the week. Relax. Maybe you'll be on them next week.

  • Keith B

    You read my comment so I have already won, Kristina.

    But seriously, I could use some kind of twisted patriarchal logic to take some credit for the discussion with Chanda that led to some good posts being put up as A's fav comments (and wow, I wasn't bitching about that re-post, zomg) and now this whole wedding weight (3 posts, wow!) dealie being because of my and Kit-kat's temerity to suggest a tacky weight loss contest wasn't just about fitting into a size 0 as Amanda so wittily suggested. But no, I'm happy enough to be here, down in the comments.

  • Amanda Hess

    @Kristina: The Sexist has a long history of not being about Keith B, and that's probably not going to change in the space of a week. But who knows? Keith B's comment expressing shock that this blog is still not about him may just catapult him to the top spot! Only time will tell!

  • Lizrd

    @Keith B ....What?

    @Amanda: The huge load of crap about weight used to justify its preoccupation of the thoughts western women is summed up in its entirety by the photo. Awesome. (That sentence was as wordy as Keith B's comment! I apologize)

  • Kit-Kat

    FWIW, People has done this same challenge with mixed-gender groups (the country's most overweight occupations and Mississippi, the country's most overweight state were the past two years' themes). Apparently, this year just happened to be brides-to-be. I wonder if that changes anyone's thoughts about this challenge in particular. Is it okay for a magazine to have this kind of challenge for truck drivers and sheriff's deputies, but not for brides? Is this kind of challenge never acceptable?

    And yes, I've seen the wedding weight-loss theme pushed in wedding web sites and magazines, along with all kinds of other wedding-related crap I wasn't interested in, so I stopped reading those web sites and magazines. Other women asked me about my weight-loss plans or exercise regimen, but I just told them that since my doctor has not suggested I lose weight, and since my dress already fit me, I didn't have any such plans. I sort of feel like the wedding weight-loss thing is less about women and weight in general and more about the insane expectations that the wedding-industrial complex has a vested interest in foisting on women. If you aren't anxious and nervous and feeling imperfect and sucked into the pretty-pretty-princess thing, you won't spend money on the myriad things you don't actually need to get married. I mean, God forbid you don't buy into every single made-up tradition that requires an outlay of cash.

  • Keith B

    @Amanda: The WCP also had a long history of being more than a weekly event guide / escort service directory, but maybe you weren't reading it back then. It's nice to see The Sexist provide original content and useful news like the other sections such as Housing Complex, Y&H and City Desk.

    Oh wait. I forgot it's just here to be your little wordpress to make fun of other people's blogs, all the while showing off your razor-sharp wit in mocking Important Issues In Feminism like some dumb weight loss contest. Truly the world is a more equal place with Amanda using her highly(?) visible position in local media to pen such useful posts as the "us dumb sluts" summary of the sex tape article on Salon. And writing an excellent cover story, which I think Kit-Kat pretty much summed up there, or for a shorter TL;DR: "Gay weddings are marketing targets for silly expensive stuff too! But sometimes even gay people have humble, cheap weddings!".

    Mela's blog/column on WCP didn't last forever either. What's she up to these days?

  • Beth

    I was a fat bride, no one gave me any shit, and life was great.

  • Kristina

    @Amanda: I think this blog should be all about Keith B's sadness at not being commenter of the week and also Freddie's [BONERS]. Ladies would obviously love it.

  • Em

    @Keith B: we know, we know. you were robbed. spare us.

    @Amanda: The whole wedding thing is really creepy and has some effed up standards, all engineered to making women spend as much money as they can because "It's your wedding! You have to!" As someone who's in the thick of wedding planning right now, it's really hard to opt out of this spend spend spend mentality. The dieting bit is just another part of the "female as consumerist" worldview, but a particularly harmful one.

    On one wedding forum, a girl actually said her biggest regret about her wedding was "eating the week before." Not eating LESS, not dieting, eating, period. Ugh. Why? If someone wants to marry you, then you shouldn't have to change, plus a lot of these people seem to get so wrapped up in the wedding they forget that it's about a marriage--something that's supposed to last a lifetime, or at least take a lot of paperwork and legal fees to get out of. I'm choosing to concentrate on the relationship that's the reason for the wedding, but it's kind of scary how few do.

  • jules

    SO...just returned from vacation and read the original post.

    Of course, BODYSMITH gym is promoting wedding weight loss, those guys are the kings of making women feel like shit about their bodies! Everytime I walk past that gym (Its on 14th St NW, near Q I think?) some dude is on the sidewalk peddling membership by asking me:

    "Miss, can you tell me one thing you don't like about your body?"


    "Is there anything about your shape you'd like to change?"

    Uhmm, no, asshole.

  • Lizrd

    I'm thinking about opting out of the whole wedding thing. The extreme dieting is one reason. But, also I feel like this extreme reality shows (Say yes to the dress! Bridzilla... etc) have ballooned everyone's concept of what an acceptable wedding looks like. In the same way that Super Sweet 16, made every 16 year old think they deserved a fucking Range Rover for at their expensive ass their birthday party. Consumerism at those levels makes me sick to my stomach.

  • Keith B

    I'm tickled you all think I want to be in the Comments of the Week! But no, I'm under no illusions about making it in A's Fave Five. Way to miss the point, fanclub.

  • kza

    I agree with Keith. How dare Amanda write the blog that WCP pays her to write! This would have flown back in ye good ole days.

  • PD

    Kit-Kat, you work for People or something? This is a feminist blog, so when things come up dealing with women's issues-- i.e. being a fat bride, and whether or not it is the worst thing in the world, etc., I think it's relevant to cover it here regardless of what similar challenges the company may have issued. And, actually, no, I don't think targeting truck drivers or Mississippians or whomever necessarily changes the ick factor; it's still pigeon-holing. I'm not disputing that obesity is unhealthy, and hey, if you need to lose weight and you're motivated by competition, go ahead and participate in some contest. Bully for you. In this instance they focused on women losing weight specifically because they were about to get married, though, and I think that saying "I need to lose 10 pounds by my wedding day or EVERYTHING WILL BE RUINED FOREVER (but it's really just about my health") is more than a little disingenuous.

    I don't think that the "hey, if you don't like it, just ignore it, whatever" attitude is necessarily useful. Let's face it, when two people are getting married, it's typically the woman who does most of the planning. And, yes, you learn pretty quickly that the wedding industry knows this and is preying on your hopes and fears and insecurities and need for acceptance, you silly little woman, you, but it's not doing any of us any good to pretend it's not there. And, no, you don't need to have a by-the-book wedding, but in many cases a wedding is one of the biggest events you will ever plan in your life and most people need help with that. And, conveniently, there are a slew of magazines and websites created which will help you do just that! But if you want the guidance they offer, you also have to wade through all the schlock they throw at you, and unless people take the time to say, "look, wedding industry, you are full of shit and I am not going to buy it," it is not going to go away.

  • k not K

    Wow, jules, wtf. I can't believe a gym would try and ATTRACT female customers by asking them what they hate about their bodies!

  • Kit-Kat

    No, I don't work for People, but I do think context is useful. It would make a difference to me whether the magazine sponsored a challenge for brides every year, or whether they target different groups and use different themes. Also, I was genuinely curious if people thought that one theme was more or less acceptable than another. It's a feminist blog, sure, but since feminism isn't a giant monolith, feminists might have different viewpoints about these things. If you object to the bride weight-loss thing on feminist grounds, why do you object to the other themes?

    And actually, I do think that ignoring the wedding industry crap is the best way to deal with it. I'm not pretending it's not there--I'm acknowledging that it is there, and that I am not interested in it. It is a business, trying to make money by convincing you to buy various products and services. The means by which they do this range from creating and preying on insecurities to selling fantasies. If you don't like them, don't buy them. Don't read them. Encourage others to do the same.

  • PD

    Okay, Kit-Kat, I respect your opinion on the wedding industry even though I disagree with it. Lots of times I see businesses doing something shitty and get told "that's just the way businesses are run," which is ostensibly why I will never run a business.

    I object to the idea of putting people into little groups and telling them to lose weight because I see it as pointing the finger at specific demographics. I just hate seeing people generalized-- fat truck drivers, fat brides, fat people born during full moons between 1976 and 1981, whatever. If you need to lose weight for your health, does there especially need to be a context for it? I also think it gives people an excuse to single out and mock overweight people for being fat.

  • The Wedding Lady

    If the need to fit into a dress will spur someone to start a regimen of healthy eating and exercise, then that's great.

    But you shouldn't starve yourself just so you can look thin(ner) in a photo.

    I know someone who was overweight and ate nothing but cabbage soup before her wedding. She even said that she only wanted to look thin in her photos - once the wedding was over she would go back to her normal eating habits.

    It just made her seem very shallow to me.