Wedding fairs: fat women don’t get married

19 Feb

Wedding day

Everyone loves a good wedding. A touching ceremony followed by watching the happy couple’s life savings being eaten, drunk and danced into a sticky carpet. Picture the bride in the months before: doe-eyed, flipping through wedding magazines, pasting her ideas on Pinterest. Maybe she’ll surf the web for tricks to make her day just that little bit more special. Maybe she’ll do something far less virtual and visit a wedding fair – the chance to mix with other couples planning their own Big Day, visit supplier stands and generally watch your bank balance plummet. Unfortunately, wedding fairs are far from the glorious champagne-tinged day out with your soul mate that you would expect. Welcome to the pressure dome.

A colleague of mine recently visited the London Wedding Show, held in the most romantic of settings – London Excel. Rather than ending the day basking in the glow of romance, I sense that she returned with a look of bewilderment and a sense of fear. Extortionate prices, unaffordable (and probably undrinkable) champagne and being elbowed out of the way by women wanting wedding cakes in the shape of unicorns (yes, really) don’t make for a pleasantly memorable day. “But,” I asked, “I bet there were lots of freebies?” Apparently not. Unless of course you count the free sachets of low calorie sugar and diet pills. Yes, DIET PILLS. Tradition clearly hasn’t made it into the 21st century.

Something to make me less fat. I can’t think of anything I’d rather have nestled in a sponsored plastic bag that my other half can carry around awkwardly as I ponder favours and they wonder what’s for tea. What better way to boost my confidence as I head towards one of the few days in my life when I will be the focus of everyone’s attention. Thanks to the diet pills – so kindly gifted – they won’t be focusing on my enormous derriere or the roll of flab that my bodice has shoved up under my armpits. Pop a couple of pills and my self-esteem will rise as high as the pure white doves we’ll be releasing.

What the jiggins were the organisers thinking?  Shame on the women loitering by the wedding cake stands – don’t you realise that cake will make you a fat and ugly bride?

The notion of crash dieting before a wedding in order to be ‘beautiful’ is, of course, no real surprise. I’m sure we all know someone who has done it. But that doesn’t make it right and those organisations selling the ‘perfect wedding’ really ought to open their disco ball-dazzled eyes and start acting more responsibly. Extreme dieting by women preparing for their wedding has even been given a name: brideorexia. (Search for that term on Yahoo and note the sponsored ads promoting weight loss that appear next to the articles – irony in motion.) Is it any wonder that what starts out as a campaign to look ‘good’ for one day can potentially lead to a serious long-term eating disorder?

Statistics estimate that in the UK at least 1.1 million people suffer from an eating disorder. Most at risk of developing a disorder are young people aged 14-25 years. As someone who has experienced an eating disorder and as a parent, the idea of diet pills being handed out at a wedding fair fills me with disgust and a desire to shake some sense into someone. Of course, wedding fairs alone are not responsible for creating eating disorders but they do a damn good job of magnifying the negative self-imagery that can set women, men, boys and girls on a spiral of misery. I’ve seen my 4-year-old pull her t-shirt up in front of a mirror and tell me that she’s worried her tummy looks fat. A 4-year-old. I’ll do everything I can to ensure she loves the body she’s in but with so many external influences to contend with I am left wondering whether it’s a battle too big to truly win.

14 Responses to “Wedding fairs: fat women don’t get married”

  1. Hiba February 20, 2013 at 5:45 am #

    Hi Helen, loved reading your article. Thank you! xx

    • Crumbs & Pegs February 20, 2013 at 10:36 am #

      Hi Hiba. Thanks for reading! Hope you’re all well. xx

  2. Tash February 20, 2013 at 7:07 am #

    Morning, great post and so true, not that I am married or planning to get married;) However, done the eating disorder business and popping diet pills. Later found out people had died from taking them – huge article in the German tabloid Bild. Good thing I am a bit of a coward and only took a few – my boss gave them to me. How to care for young employees …xx

    • Crumbs & Pegs February 20, 2013 at 10:45 am #

      That’s shocking. Bet it happens a lot. Here they just feed us cakes and biscuits – seems to be a birthday everyday! x

  3. simonsometimessays February 20, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    I get bewildered and a little saddened by the frippery around weddings anyway (there seems to be at least as much concern at large with the wedding as with the marriage) – and I was already applauding loudly at the first half of your post. And then you brilliantly demonstrated why I feel uneasy about how the focus on body-image contaminates the wedding business.
    I’m still bewildered and sad – but now better understand why. Thanks very much.

    • Crumbs & Pegs February 20, 2013 at 11:04 am #

      I must admit I’d never really considered it until I heard about the diet pills. ‘Contaminates’ is a very good way to describe it. Thanks as ever for commenting.

  4. Isabel Thomas February 20, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    Happily I avoided the pressure by getting married at four months pregnant. I knew I was going to be fatter so I bought an extra big dress! It was very liberating, after 12 years of preoccupation with weight, and couldn’t have come at a better time.

    • Crumbs & Pegs February 20, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

      No doubt you would have been ostracised at any wedding fair for the terrible imperfection of being pregnant! 😉

  5. DamsonLane February 21, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    I didn’t eat for 2 years before my wedding and I am paying the price now as I eat everything in sight!

    • Crumbs & Pegs February 21, 2013 at 11:06 pm #

      Aw, go girl! Life’s too short. Food is one of the few pleasures I have in life now that a social life is virtually non-existent! 😉

  6. amysbuttonbox February 23, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    I completely recognise your friends experience “Rather than ending the day basking in the glow of romance, I sense that she returned with a look of bewilderment and a sense of fear.” I have recently started up my own business offering craft parties, with brides-to-be target clients, as such I’ve been visiting local wedding fairs to find one with soul that represent a style that suits my business and all I’ve come across are soulless fairs, I despair for poor brides trying to find original and unique suppliers who care about their big day. And to hear that ‘diet pills’ are being given out at these events is frankly shocking!
    Great post, Helen. xxx

    • Crumbs & Pegs February 23, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

      Thanks for your comment. Your thoughts mirror exactly what I’m thinking – no fairs to suit couples who want something quirkier, to help small local suppliers etc. Something to help make their wedding individual rather than bulk standard. Maybe we should get ourselves on Dragon’s Den!

  7. Annie Hogan (@_annie_h) February 27, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

    thanks for the comment on my blog! Great article, you’ve eloquently expressed what I wanted to get across. Bloody diet pills! x

    • Crumbs & Pegs February 27, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

      Ranting more than eloquent but thank you!!

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