I was targeted with weight loss ads as soon as I got engaged
‘Noom. What is Noom?’ I asked myself. ‘Why do I keep getting adverts across my social media for… oh. I see.’
Noom is another weight loss programme, another lifestyle change, another diet.
It was just the first of what turned out to be a litany of diet products that popped up in my social media feeds within moments of entering the phrase ‘plus-size wedding dress’ into a search engine.
I lost count of how many of the ads featured someone positively weeping with relief that they were no longer the worst thing you can possibly be – especially if you’re a woman. That thing is fat.
In the run up to my wedding, all the big names made an appearance. Slimming world, WeightWatchers, Lighter Life – as fast as I could mark them as ‘irrelevant’, a new targeted ad would appear.
I had the eating plans, but I also had the ‘run around the park getting shouted at by a man in combats’ companies, and the odd diet pill, too. Sometimes they were masquerading as something slightly less sinister like ‘supplements’, but they were there.
When there is already so much pressure on women to achieve an unattainable beauty standard, these things just add to the unending signposts leading the way to an ultimately unattainable beauty standard. They are a constant reminder that you, right now, are not quite thin enough, fit enough, healthy enough. And that, my friends, is exhausting.
And I get it, I do. Most women want to lose weight for their wedding so it’s a pretty good punt if that’s your business. But why didn’t I get a single ad for making my skin look great? Or my hair or nails, maybe?
My husband and I got engaged on Christmas Eve 2019 on Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. It was pretty great, but I was most excited to start a new Excel spreadsheet titled ‘WEDDING’ because admin is cool and so am I.
As you may be able to guess, however, our plans to wed in a pub in Penge in November 2020 were thwarted by a certain pandemic. So, we rebooked our wedding for September 2021 and opted for a field in Sussex for optimum air flow. The theme was ‘camping under the stars’ and it was to be all hay bales and whimsy.
One of the biggest parts of wedding planning if you are a dress-wearing person, is choosing the big frock. It’s wrong to say that there aren’t any wedding dresses for fat people because there are.
But when you shop for one, you hear phrases like, ‘All bodies are beautiful’ – which is nice. But then you also hear things such as, ‘What is the most flattering shape for your body’ and by flattering, of course, what they mean is ‘Which one makes you look the thinnest?’
So, the idea is that you squish and squeeze yourself into elastic, boning and lacing so that you look as thin as possible from the front… but from the back you look like three people trying to push their way out of a plastic bag. And nothing about that is comfortable or really fitted into my vision of gentle countryside glamour.
The thing is, I am fairly obviously a wide bride and there isn’t any amount of discomfort that will achieve anything near ‘slim’ for me so it rather feels it just sets you up for failure.
If we say that everyone can look beautiful on their wedding day, but we never separate the concept of beauty from thin-ness (or for that matter, female-ness, whiteness, able-bodied-ness) then an awful lot of people are going to feel like they don’t make the cut.
Before anyone thinks it, I’m not saying no one should lose weight for their wedding. I’m just saying that for myriad reasons, it isn’t an option for lots of us.
Lose weight if that’s what is right for you. But also consider… not doing that. Consider bathing in the joy of choosing flowers and cake flavours; consider delighting in planning where each of your dearest friends will sit; consider what music you’ll all bellow along to late into the evening.
There absolutely is a viable option that involves not losing weight for your wedding.
You are already beautiful; you are already worth the perfect wedding day and you can wear whatever dress makes you feel wonderful.
In the end, I had my dress made for me by a wonderful lady called Joanna Roberts. She’s a living angel who helped me to look glorious in my dress because she knows the secret: it doesn’t matter what your measurements are if you feel rubbish.
No amount of sit ups in the rain or fat-free yoghurt lead directly to happiness.
If you want long-term results, work on feeling good – not feeling thin.
Drink water, exercise, laugh, look after your skin and everyday look in the mirror and actively look for the good stuff.
And for goodness sake, if you do nothing else – mute the ads for diet companies.
Lucy will be performing Lucy Frederick’s Big Fat Wedding at the Edinburgh Festival 3 to 28 August. You can book tickets on the website here.
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