Less than two months before my wedding, I stood in the alterations department of a bridal store crying. Not sweet, joyful, bride-to-be tears of happiness, but some red-chest, scrunch-faced, holding-back-the-tears-but-they’re-coming-anyway crying. I stood on the platform, staring at myself in the mirror, and all I could see were my giant, too-white arms, my about-to-burst bust, and the seamstress behind me telling my mother the only way my boobs weren’t gonna fly out would be to let out the dress some more. Yes, more.
I hadn’t even started looking for a dress until nine months into my engagement, and I had dragged my feet through the entire process. I tried to put it off as long as possible. What was the issue? The same thing that had made me put off so many other things in my life: I was waiting on the weight.
When I met my now husband, I was a size 8 (the skinny range for me). This wedding dress was a 14, needed to be let out, and I couldn’t zip it up with a bra on. I felt like a failure. How could I let this happen? What would people think? What had happened to me?
Oh right, life. Amazing, everyday, falling-in-love life happened. We started dating, had Thai food picnics on the floor of my apartment, cuddled on the couch and watched Netflix, oh and traveled to Europe and ate pretzels in Germany and gelato in Italy (no big deal). There had also been long hikes, homemade chana masala, a hypothyroid diagnosis, yoga classes, job changes, and a million other things. But standing in front of that mirror, I wasn’t thinking about how beautiful and complex the last two years had been; I only saw the weight I’d gained, and that weight-centric view of myself was my real problem.
It would have been really easy for me to pledge allegiance to the next quick-fix diet formula that crossed my path. Early or mid-twenties me would have absolutely vowed to lose weight (and maybe she would have for a bit), but I’d been down that road so many times before, and I knew in my core that if I focused on changing my body for my wedding, I would end up hating the way I looked anyway. Because when I had been a size 6, I still thought I had giant arms and a chubby face. Negative body image knows no size.
Diet culture focuses on what you lack, not what you have, and even in my moment of splotchy-faced, alterations department anxiety, I knew that I didn’t want to go back there. So instead, I decided to focus my energy and remaining time on changing my mindset instead of of my waistline.
It wasn’t easy, and it didn’t happen overnight, but by letting go of my obsession with wedding-day weight, I was able to focus on what actually mattered. Like the fact that I was marrying the kindest man I’d ever met. Or that my family and friends were all being so incredibly generous with their time and money. That I was quite literally surrounded by love.
And on my wedding day, in the let-out dress that fit me (and my boobs) perfectly, when people told me I looked beautiful, I believed them.