Image: @firestinephotographyA girl’s wedding day- one of the happiest days of her life! Getting to walk down the aisle in the white dress to the person of her dreams with picture-perfect make up and hair. Every detail planned from the flowers to the parting gifts. This is the day you Pinterest posted about for years prior to even meeting “the one” Yes, everything is perfect– except the unspoken way you prepared for this day. Skipping meals, running profusely, cutting carbohydrates, and crunching and squatting until you were dizzy.
The ugly truth behind many wedding gowns are the disordered thoughts and worldly pressures to “look perfect” on your wedding day.
I am recovered from anorexia with purging tendencies. I understand that my opinions come from a bias that many people do not understand. However, I think that every woman can empathize with the feeling of not being good enough or measuring up to the skewed societal standard of beauty. I went through treatment for my eating disorder from February 2016- July 2016. My passion for bringing light and understanding to the disordered ways of the world is genuine and warranted; the world is focusing too much on a person’s outside beauty and our inner, true selves are suffocating. It is time for me to set myself free.
Why should it matter?
I cannot tell you how many women I have encountered over the years who know how much they weighed on each of their wedding days. It seems to be a common topic to discuss when talking about weddings. This seems a little bizarre… why do we dwell on this number? Why should it matter? I remember almost 8 years ago being mortified while trying on my dress that I had to order a size bigger than what my mom wore. Even though my mom never held me to her body standards, I held myself to them because she was my main influence and my guide in this world. I am not blaming my mom, but I still had that awful feeling.
Weight is a topic that society in general feels as though is appropriate to bring up at any moment to relatives, friends, or even perfect strangers.
A person can brush off a hurtful comment or criticism on the surface. The subconscious impact the constant focus on weight and body image has in society begins to manipulate people’s thinking into, “I am not good enough”, “I am not pretty enough”, “I am not worthy”. This has to stop.
On the morning of my wedding day I did not eat because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to zip my dress… Thought my stomach would look boated in my perfect gown if I ate anything. I am not into revealing numbers, but I lost a significant amount of weight the months prior to my wedding. The already tiny dress was taken in two times.
At that time, I had never been more proud of the fact that I was so small.
Looking back, I was never more disordered.
I refused to eat at my reception. My family spent a huge amount of money on the finest spread for our guests, yet I didn’t even take a bite. I had to look perfect! What a shame. I missed out on an enjoyable and connecting part of my own wedding due to the fact that I was afraid of a tummy ‘pooch’ in pictures.
When does beauty become a size?
One summer day a few weeks after I returned from treatment, I was watching my sweet children Graham and Anna Blue playing in the sprinkler. My heart smiled at their innocent fun. That night I was bathing and washing Blue’s sweet, round face and her perfect little belly, a thought came to me. At what age is it acceptable to begin to tell a girl she is not good enough if she has a belly? She is not pretty enough unless her thighs don’t touch? Is only beautiful if she can fit into a size ___?
I answered that for my own daughter very quickly: NEVER. It is never acceptable for her to feel as though she has to fit a mold to be beautiful. Ever. Then I asked myself, what is the difference between Anna Blue and me? Or any other girl in this world for that matter?
Why is beauty a size? Or a color? Why is beauty a shape?
The answer is simple. It is not.
I overheard a conversation about wedding dresses- a bride talking about getting her gown preserved for her daughter to wear one day. I smiled dreaming of Anna Blue one day wearing my dress… then it hit me. Flash backs of running, endless crunches, skipping of meals, restricting, food rules. There were so many joy sucking rituals that lead me to that dress. It was then I knew I must trash that dress. My dress won’t be worn by my daughter because I want her to live up to my character, not my disorder. I want my daughter to live up to my bravery, not my fear. I want my daughter to live up to my strength, not my weakness.
Breaking the cycle
My opinion breaks social norms and age old traditions, but some traditions are made to be broken. Especially in the case of my wedding dress. We as a whole need to adopt the acceptance of self, of who we are on the inside. Using our character we must quit living up to the impossible standards that our society has created.
I sought treatment for my eating disorder to break my family’s generational struggle with using eating disorders and addictive behaviors to cope with life’s trials and stresses. Now, I’m going to trash my wedding dress to symbolically break the cycle once and for all. I will write all the words on it that I wish I would have valued in myself that day instead of how I looked. All while wishing I would have known the following:
I am enough. I am brave, I am worthy, I am loved, I am powerful, I am courageous, I am resilient, I am strong, I am free.
My wedding day was wonderful. Marrying my husband was the best decision of my life. That day still goes down as one of my favorites because it brought me and my best friend together as one. Me destroying my wedding dress says nothing of Derrick or our marriage. Yet it says everything about how I never want my daughter to compare her body to my disordered past. I will praise Anna Blue for her character, bravery, and strength on her wedding day and every day; not what she weighs or what size dress she wears.
And you should never put your value in a dress or size either. Because you are much, much more than that.
You are a warrior.