Let’s Talk About Your Wedding, Your Dress, and the Pressure to Lose Weight.

Photographed by Jon Bolden

Emily Sorensen is not a plus size, nor is she a model, but that doesn’t stop her from waving the body acceptance flag every chance she gets. Whether it’s in the office, with her family and friends, or online, she encourages others to come to peace with the body they have and invest in the things that matter most in life. Emily was recently married and during the engagement found herself struggling with an issue that she thought she had already come to peace with–her size. Here is her story.

I was a size 12 on my wedding day. 

Not a designer 12, not a couture 12, not a “wedding dress only” 12. A solid commercial size 12. 

It wasn’t the smallest size I’d ever been, but it wasn’t quite the largest either. This wasn’t the result of dieting and obsessive workouts. That’s just the size my body likes to be. I’m 5’3”, I’m busty, I have brown eyes, blondish-brownish hair, and wear a size 12. 

So I was a size 12 bride. 

From the moment a woman says “Yes!” (or perhaps more fitting now, changes her Facebook status), the advertising inundation begins:

“Lose 30 lbs before the big day!”

“Slim down for your walk down the aisle!”

“Fit in your dress!”

And my favorite: 

 “Don’t be a fat bride!” (Yes, this really showed up in an ad on Facebook.)

So here I am–a size 12. I was a size 8 once–although it took a diet of sugar-free Jell-O and Diet Coke to get there, which I don’t recommend. Later I got down to a size 10, although that was the result of a post-surgical liquid diet, which I really really don’t recommend. I know now that size 12 is healthy for me. It’s not just healthy for my body, but it is healthy for my mind and soul as well. Usually, I am comfortable in that knowledge and I get by without too many body crises. 

But I’d be lying if I said I was my usual confident self throughout my wedding planning. An enormous amount of pressure is put on a woman to look her absolute best on her wedding day. This translates, of course, to becoming the thinnest, blondest, tannest “best” that money can buy. I think we’ve forgotten that what makes a bride so beautiful on her wedding day is the internal radiance that comes from joining in marriage with the person she loves most in the world. 

So I had a bit of a body crisis while I was planning my wedding, but here’s the conclusion I came to: I am going to be my best on my wedding day. My 5’3”, busty, brown-eyed, blondish-brownish, size 12 best. The me that my husband fell in love with. I made up my mind that none of that was changing for my wedding day–and I’m glad I did. 

This was, at times, an uphill battle. The wedding industry is not one built on self-acceptance. Not only are ads and articles written with the assumption that every bride, no matter her size, is trying to become smaller for the “big day”, but there’s a lot of other really bad advice out there. For example: selecting the dress. Plus-size brides are presented with a list of what to avoid: nothing strapless, nothing sleeveless, and nothing fitted. The goal is to SLIM and SKIM and HIDE. 

I tried a few skimming dresses that made me look like a melting pudding pop on a hot summer day. The A-lines that were supposed to balance my chest just made me look like a frosted cupcake (as much as I love eating dessert, I’m not so keen on looking like one). 

One day I showed up at a sample sale, sure that there would be no dresses to fit a body like mine. But when I slipped into a form-fitting, low-cut halter that fit me like a glove and made me look like a glamour ad from the 1950s, I knew all of those advice articles were just full of it. The fitted nature of the dress worried my tailor, who warned, “No more enchiladas!” a week before my wedding. I figured if enchiladas had served me just fine for the majority of my engagement, they were not going to ruin it all in the last seven days! If anything, staying the same and stabilizing my size during the engagement made things easier because I didn’t have to worry about last-minute taking-in or letting-out.

On my wedding day I didn’t just look my best; I felt my best. The pictures show a beautiful, deeply happy woman full of love and joy.  I was too busy talking, laughing, drinking, and dancing to worry about how my upper arms or lower belly area appeared in the pictures. What I remember that day was that I felt so surrounded by love and support, and so smitten by my charming husband, that body insecurities were the last thing on my mind. I’m really happy now that when I look at my wedding photos I see the real me, not some manufactured, temporary version of me that I would otherwise always be trying to get back. 

*Thank you for sharing your inspirational story, Emily! We look forward to hearing more from you in the future!

We would love to hear from our readers, too. How do you feel about the internal or external pressure to lose weight before a big event? Have you had a similar experience as Emily? Do you feel pressured to look a certain way? Are you at peace with your body? Do you feel uniquely beautiful? Tell us your thoughts and share your stories.

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25 Responses to “Let’s Talk About Your Wedding, Your Dress, and the Pressure to Lose Weight.”

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  7. Yeah, I got this before my wedding, too. At the gym: “Oh, we have to get her in shape before the big day!!”

    I once watched an episode of Oprah where an overweight woman, absolutely distraught about her size, vowed she wouldn’t get married unless she had lost the weight and Vera Wang was offering a wedding gown (in a fashionable size) as the prize if she made it.

    All of this points to one great, big, unwritten-yet-screamed-from-the-rooftops societal rule:

    Only pretty women are allowed to get married.

    If you aren’t angelically, ethereally, dreamily beautiful, you just aren’t pretty enough yet to put on a white dress and walk down the aisle to get married, and you should be sentenced to however many years of hard labor it will take you to become that beautiful.

    Why is society like this? Is the pleasure of seeing, for about five minutes out of our entire lives, a woman of Hollywood-level beauty so important that we have to perpetuate this wedding day hysteria and inflict it upon every girl with an engagement ring?

    What IS it with this cultural rule that women MUST be beautiful, and beautiful=bones??

    Great blog post!!!!

  8. Thank you SO MUCH for this. I am 5’3″ and a size 12, and getting married in 6 weeks. I have procrastinated dress shopping because of body image concerns. I am recovered from a eating disorder, but I find myself debating whether or not to return to my unhealthy behaviors in order to look my “best” on my wedding day.

    You are a true inspiration. Thank you so so much.

  9. I also loved your article!! I feel the same pressure when getting ready to go on vacation and look great in my suit!

  10. Wow, so empowering! Definitely better to enjoy your time being engaged than to be a crabby bridezilla (which is what I’d be on liquid diet, I’m sure of it!)

    Thanks for these encouraging words.

  11. […] love this story from Plus-Size Models Unite, from a bride who refused to diet. I have a little fantasy about my […]

  12. Thanks for the info, I don’t read a lot of blogs on a daily basis but I will be bookmarking yours and checking back often. Also, I like the layout you have here, it makes it easy to locate what I am looking for and doesnt distract me to the point that I have to leave,. Did you style your comments like this or is this how your theme was setup originally?

  13. Although I am not planning on getting married any time soon, I loved your article!! I feel the same pressure when getting ready to go on vacation and look great in my suit! As a plus model, I have done my fair share of bridal work, and can recall how bridal sizing can be a little depressing! I am generally a 14 off the rack, but need an 18 to accommodate my large bust for bridal. But size is just a number; I believe that the beauty radiated by a bride comes from inside, and they just glow with love and joy!

  14. Great article! The minute I announced that a date had been set for my wedding, my father asked, “are you going to lose weight?” Not at all shocked, as I get this crap from my relatives all the damn time, I replied, “He asked me to marry me looking like this, so no, I’m not going to lose weight.” Like this lady, I was a size 12 on my wedding day. I wore a beautiful dress and danced and had fun with my new hubby and our friends. I have great photos, and I looked like me, I felt like me, the me that I accept and love even if I have love handles, or fit into a smaller pair of jeans.

  15. Brianna B. Says:

    Emily, you know you are my bridal hero! Thank you for the well written words of confidence, I’m going to need them as I go into that mode myself.

  16. Great article!!!! women need to feel beautiful no matter what shape or size…. your man falls in love with you exactly the way you are , so when women put pressure on themselves to be thin for the wedding, it can take away from the amazing connection you have and why you have chosen to spend the rest of your life with each other…. sometimes the more we focus on losing weight, the further away from our goal we get!!!! if we take away the stress in our life, then our body naturally get s to a healthy weight without obsessing about it 😉

  17. Hi Everyone! Thanks for your sweet comments. I know the pressure out there is really intense, not only have I gone through it but watched several friends go through it as well. Just remember, your wedding day is about you and your partner, and they love you as you are!

  18. Beautifully articulated. I wish I had been that confident on my wedding day almost 15 years ago. Unfortunately, my engagement refueled my eating disorder. I told my husband, after we were married, and he was furious! I tried out-patient therapy for 2 years, and finally had to go to a treatment center. It will be 11 years next week that I was released. The first two years of treatment was HELL. Even my therapist said she didn’t know if I would make it. But I did. I now have two beautiful, healthy daughters (ages 5 and 7) and pray for their body images daily. It’s hard to accept a body that you don’t like and that society is telling you isn’t “right,” but I found out the hard way that it is harder NOT to accept it. Thank you for sharing your experience. (When I left for therapy I was a middle school teacher. It was one of my former students that asked me to read your article.)

    • stocktoc Says:

      Karie,

      I still remember how hard I cried when you told us you’d be leaving us in the hands of a substitute teacher! But more vividly, I remember how happy I was when your baby shower announcement came in the mail.

      You’re a strong woman, a wonderful mother, and an inspiration to me!

      Signed,
      Your biggest (former) middle school fan 🙂

  19. Anonymous Says:

    Looking through your blog gives me a chance to recall why I love reading things with so much insight. It is nice to know that there are still great writers out there that can put fun into knowledgable information. Thank you for your role and eagerness to share your thoughts with us.

  20. stocktoc Says:

    Love it!

  21. I’m a size 4 and I feel a ton of pressure to lose weight for my wedding. Yeah. How ridiculous is that? Ok, even if I don’t lose weight, I need to tone my arms. I need to get really in shape. Etc.

    This piece is so well done, and so moving. I’m tired of all the pressure surrounding what should be an event that celebrates who I am. Un-toned arms and all.

    Thanks, Emily and Elizabeth!!

  22. I love this article!! I am a photographer that is branching out into model management and I want to, WILL!! Represent plus size girls!! No matter what anyone says I have always said curvy is beautiful!!!

  23. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Clare, Emily S.. Emily S. said: Check out my guest post on weddings and the pressure to lose weight today at Plus-Size Models Unite! http://bit.ly/9xjOgg […]

  24. It is about time that curvy women had some selection to choose from when it comes to their special day. I personally love http://www.mylunakiss.com they have a great selection of curvy lingerie for women of all sizes. Your special day should be about u and no one else!

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