Many women dream about their perfect wedding day.
The media floods our minds with images of fairytale weddings on magazine racks, TV shows, movies and Pinterest.
And who doesn’t want a wonderful experience on such a special day?
A wedding should be a memorable milestone, just like a first kiss, getting a driver’s license or moving out on your own.
But, there is an unspoken rule that the bride must obsess over presenting an image of perfect happiness, which unfortunately includes her appearance, and of course, the dress.
I have no problem with people wanting to live healthier lives through sustainable lifestyle changes, but I unfortunately know all too well the consequences of having poor body image.
When the pressure to change your body becomes an unhealthy priority, only negative consequences will follow.
And this is why I won’t be shedding for the wedding, and am offering 10 reasons why you shouldn’t, either.
1. You’ll be miserable and "hangry"
We all know that feeling. It's the combination of being so hungry and irritable that everything makes us angry.
And who wouldn’t be ready to snap when you’ve deprived your body of the basic nutrients it needs to function?
I know I'm miserable and moody if I miss lunch or my blood sugar gets too low. People on diets are not people anyone wants to be around.
You’re no fun to go out with because you don’t enjoy the food and drinks around you.
You’re no fun to talk to because you’re so preoccupied with your drastic diet. You’re no fun to hang out with because you have no energy.
You’re no fun to live with because let’s face it: You’re miserable and "hangry," and that makes you an involuntary bitch.
2. It’s unrealistic and unsustainable
Trying to lose a large amount of weight too quickly only leads to disappointment, and ultimately, a sense of failure. It’s not you who failed, it was your impossible goals.
There is a reason shows like "The Biggest Loser" are so popular and entertaining. We like drama, we like chaos and we like instant gratification.
But time after time, contestants on the show have opened up about the abusive lifestyles they had to endure.
And many follow-ups of "Biggest Loser" contestants and winners demonstrate they not only gained most of the weight back, but often even more than they started with.
The human body is smarter than mere willpower can overcome.
After I personally struggled with severe anorexia for years, I was appalled when I began binge eating my way to becoming clinically obese.
But looking back now, I realize I had little choice. I had put my body into such a constant state of deprivation that when I finally began to eat, it went into survival mode and ate everything out of the fear it may never get the chance again.
The further the pendulum swings one way, the further it will swing to the opposite end.
3. Your family and friends should love and support you as you are
Chances are you’ll want your family and closest friends to attend your wedding. With that said, these are the people who have been with you the longest and unconditionally accept you just as you are.
The fact that you walk down the aisle looking noticeably thinner isn’t going to change a damn thing about how they feel about you.
Likewise, the size of your body on your big day shouldn’t change how you feel about yourself.
Unless you plan on inviting the paparazzi, forget the internal pressure you need to impress others and leave your fantasies of some unfounded glory at home.
4. A wedding dress is beautiful on all bodies.
When you look at a wedding dress and think it’s beautiful, it’s not because it’s a size 4 versus a size 12.
It’s beautiful because of what it represents: love, commitment, happiness, celebration and a new chapter. That alone is one of the most beautiful things in the world.
Weddings are about waking up with excitement, having your hair done in a special way, walking out into an enchanted venue, holding back the tears of joy as you see your partner and yes, wearing your fairytale dress, all while having your loved ones witness the occasion.
None of the above requires a certain size on your dress, weight on the scale or shape of your body.
5. You don’t want to look through your wedding album seeing someone you never really were
So many women feel an immense amount of pressure to look perfect for big events and for photographs. But, a photo is just one moment in time.
When you look through your wedding album with family, friends and your children, don’t you want to recognize the woman in the photos? Be proud of yourself, take care of yourself and recognize that true beauty is who you are as a person, not who you are as an image.
It’s still hard for me to look at photos of myself both when I was anorexic and later obese. It’s me, of course, but it isn’t who I am as a person. My weight reflected my own inner demons.
When I look at my old photographs, I see pain, misery, self-hatred and a lost soul.
There is not one photo I look back on and think, “Wow, look how thin I was! I must have been the most beautiful person ever at that time!” Nope! Never.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so make sure your pictures don’t include your miserable attempts at turning yourself into someone you're not.
Remember: Even models wish they looked like their own photos.
6. If you’re so concerned with your body, you can’t focus on the joy of the moment
Bad body image sucks; there is no simpler way to put it.
It consumes your daily thoughts, words and actions. It can cause you to waste endless hours finding the right outfit.
It can make you purposely dress in unflattering clothes because you feel you cannot, or don’t deserve, to look nice.
It screams at you relentlessly while you stare into the mirror. Bad body image makes the act of walking in public an anxiety attack waiting to happen.
You fear everyone is staring at you. You fear everyone is talking about you behind your back.
You catch yourself glancing into everything that offers a reflection: store windows, car doors and your own damn shadow.
Bad body image drives you into a state of shame. You stand no chance at enjoying the moment. How could you?
You don’t have to accept this, and you can learn to have good body image.
The best and simplest advice I can give to deal with this is honestly to stop giving a f*ck. Look into that mirror, and tell yourself you are beautiful, unstoppable and a badass bitch ready to conquer the world.
Put on those sexy clothes, and walk with confidence.
Stop comparing yourself to others in the mainstream or social media because most of the ones you see don’t even look that way in real life, anyway.
7. You’re fueling the fire that the media has set
Every time you buy a product, an idea or a promise from the media, you lose part of your individuality (while the media gains your money). We are wired to want to fit in and to participate in social norms.
This is defined in social psychology as pluralistic ignorance: "A situation in which a majority of group members privately reject a norm, but assume (incorrectly) that most others accept it," and then go along with it.
Let’s face it: The media can succeed with promoting products, supplements and endless new ways to improve one’s appearance, only if it develops an audience to pay the bills.
The people offering these products and commercials are not idiots. They are smart bullies who prey upon people with low self-esteem.
It’s up to you to take a stand and start loving yourself for everything you are, instead of hating yourself for everything you are not. You have the power to choose, so choose wisely.
8. The pressure to appear a certain way can turn into a vicious cycle
If you show up to a big event, such as your wedding, you are going to feel internal pressure to keep up this same image at your next public outing. And so, the same cycle will repeat itself.
You’ll take drastic, unrealistic and unsustainable measures to reach that same look again, while being miserable and "hangry."
You also run the risk of developing an eating disorder.
Just be you. Be authentic. It will not only make you happier, but it’s a lot less work than constantly putting yourself on a tight leash and then letting yourself go.
9. Your partner is marrying you, not your body
Remember you met and eventually fell in love with your partner with the intent to accept flaws and all. Chances are you didn’t come to the decision to say “yes” with the hope things would change.
Chances are also good that when you said, “yes,” you weren’t thinking about how you might have to change yourself or your physical appearance.
So remember: Your partner is marrying you, not your body. And if your partner is marrying your body, then this person is not the one for you.
10. Happiness is what makes you beautiful, period
When you think of someone who you believe is beautiful, it’s often someone who radiates a genuine sense of self-confidence, happiness and inner peace. Beautiful people have beautiful hearts, and that's what stands out.
If you are going to believe the fallacy that your size, weight or appearance equals happiness, you are going to be chasing a hopeless thought while digging a black hole.
Take it from someone who long mistakenly thought, “If only I reach a specific weight target, I will be happy and beautiful.”
What happens is you will reach this figure, only to find that nothing in your life has changed, besides the fact that you reached an artificial goal.
Given that the “achievement” brought you no satisfaction or happiness, you will create a new and lower goal, thereby perpetuating a deadly spiral of torment.
Stop chasing lies. Stop chasing misconceptions. Stop trying to change yourself.
Your appearance has absolutely no correlation with happiness. You are unconditionally beautiful as you are.
So, plan that fairytale wedding of yours, put on your beautiful dress, walk down that aisle with your self-esteem intact, defiantly give the finger to those social pressures trying to bring you down, and live happily ever after.