So we’re* planning our wedding. We’ve got a year or so to do it in. Kate’s working more or less full time right now, and I’m not, so I’m the one doing the heavy lifting on the planning at the moment. I do research, I look at venues, soon I’ll be talking to restaurants and caterers, I think about favors. And I read wedding blogs.
I don’t read many of them. Really, just two at the moment. I looked at more early on, when I was planning to propose, and they were just . . . horrifying. Absolutely appalling. The strict gender roles, the heteronormativity, the extreme consumerism, the fucking body shaming, the everything. I can’t handle it. So I read just the two, A Practical Wedding and Offbeat Bride. APW for advice, serious thinky-things, spreadsheets, and good vendors, Offbeat Bride for the shiny. Oh, the shiny.
Probably the biggest and best-known wedding site out there, though, is The Knot (on APW, they elide is as Kn*t). If you hit their blog (no, I won’t link to it), you will see mostly celebrity weddings, and every couple is straight and every woman is thin. If you hit their galleries of wedding dresses, every single one is worn by a thin fashion model. If you hit their “Real Weddings” galleries, you might see brides who are a little larger — say up to a size 8 or 10, but still well within straight sizes. Oh, and the couples are still all opposite sex. *sigh* And all the top hits when you google “wedding” are the same — skinny, straight, mostly white women. When a woman of color shows up, it’s all about her “exotic” wedding. I cannot even imagine setting foot into a David’s Bridal. (Not that I have to. Both of us are having friends make our dresses. We’re so lucky to have friends who are seamstresses and costumers! But maybe I will, just so I can report back. Hrm. Maybe not, though. It sounds like it could be pretty traumatic for me.) What does this have to do with me as a bride? Where are the women who look like me, who have relationships like mine?
APW and Offbeat Bride both regularly feature same-sex wedding, fat brides, geeky weddings, all kinds of things that I can identify with, often in combination. (Like the anime/gamer wedding with two not-so-thin brides. That was awesome.) But most of the rest of the wedding world is very much Not About Me, and Not For Me. I am not welcome there.
Even at APW, where fat brides (and grooms) are often seen in featured weddings, body size is rarely discussed. The first post on body size and image while I’d been reading explained why: the site’s owner was terrified of putting anything about the topic up. It’s too contentious, there was too much room for hurt feelings.
And, to tell the truth, I was kind of upset by that post. I mean, it was very much on the side of not feeling like a failure for gaining weight, and having a good body image at any size. But it also had a lot of food-shaming that I found upsetting (“I’d lost and gained weight before, mostly the same twenty pounds in college, usually because I couldn’t keep my hands away from the cafeteria cookies and because I didn’t understand that one cookie is a serving, not seven”) and a lot of referring to “excess” weight, a phrasing I find problematic and cringe-worthy.
But apparently, that comment thread went well enough that the site’s owner decided they needed to run more pieces on body image, and today this one appeared. It’s a good piece (although the comment thread had me in angry tears over the ridiculous fat-is-unhealthy and but-you-must-be-fit bullshit contained within), but it opens with a friend saying to the writer, “You’re fat now, by the way. I just thought you should know. Are you going to lose weight for your wedding?”
And this is the attitude that just completely infuriates me.
As with so many major life events that center (or are centered by society) on women, a wedding seems to make it even more acceptable, indeed nearly mandatory, to body shame a woman. A woman should be thin for her wedding, or she is a failure. She should fit the dress, rather than the dress fitting her. And her friends and relations, her fiance’s friends and relations, the salespeople she talks to, every single bridal tv show and magazine, and random strangers on the street absolutely have to let her know this.
I, happily, have not actually had anyone ask me if I’m planning to lose weight for the wedding. But then, it’s still most of a year off, and we still haven’t set a date (because trying to freaks me out). I’m sure someone will, probably my mother, and then I will lose my goddamn temper.
Because my body is good. Not even good enough, just good. It does what I want and need it to do (except for my sinuses; I hate my sinuses). It’s a comfortable body, and I know how to work it, and I like it quite a lot. It’s me. My fiancee likes it quite a lot, too, and lets me know that pretty much every day.
I will be a beautiful bride, and so will my fiancee. I’m short and fat and she’s tall and pretty average-sized, and it will be our ceremony and our day, and it will be awesome. And I don’t need to lose weight for that to be true.
*Her name is Kate. She’s tall, brilliant, funny, and has blue hair. OK, right now it’s more purple, but her default hair color is blue, and it should fade back to that.