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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Brideorexia

Today I would like to talk about "Brideorexia" as discussed in this article. According to this book "the way we marry is who we are". And I would like to think as a society we are better than expecting young women who are getting married to completely change themselves in many ways in order to make a commitment of love and unity, and to celebrate the merging of two families. This book makes the argument that modern brides freaking out about losing large amounts of weight is related to the much older traditions of bridal fasting(which can be found in several different religions and cultures), and cleansing, including the Jewish mikveh

A woman simply has to change her facebook status to "engaged" to get only ads related to losing weight for a year. I am so used to these ads, that once when Scott was logged into facebook I noticed that he had no ads for losing weight, and I was shocked. I am told it is worse when you change your status to "married" and all the ads basically say "have a kid, have a kid, did you have kids yet?"

In the first article I linked to above it states: "In the 1990s, there were relatively few entrepreneurial pushes to get women to lose weight. Of all the wedding magazines we could get our hands on, we only found one weight-loss ad," says Sobal. "That's changed since 2000. Now there's bridal boot camp, extreme makeovers, and they encourage bridal weight loss. There's a little more pressure by profitmaking groups and competition emphasis on thinness in the bridal community." In this book the author specifically made the choice not to go on a bridal diet, and one of her friends who was already very skinny said that she felt like people expected her to be a on crazy diet, and she thought she would engage in one. Of course, this is the woman's own choice, and the article states that "Such women, who are often already predisposed to developing an eating disorder, may be pushed over the edge by the stress of their impending wedding day, Sacker says."

Although the article states that most of the women who want to lose weight only end up losing about 7 lbs. and do so in a healthy way by eating fruits and vegetables, I really disagree with the expectation that women should be crazy about their weddings in general. The article also states that "dramatic weight loss and malnutrition can reduce levels of serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of happiness and well-being, while increasing levels of other chemicals that increase stress", which seems unfortunate because it is supposed to be a joyous time in one's life.

"One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding" makes the point that in other times in history the wedding marked a huge change in the lives of the newlyweds, but now many people are mature adults in many ways by the time they get engaged, and so as a society we make planning weddings very stressful to test the couple. One bride interviewed in the book said "If we can get through this we can get through anything".

But why should it possibly be such a miserable process? The woman who was good enough to get proposed to is not the woman who is good enough to walk down the aisle? There was a woman next to me at the salon where I got my bridal hair and makeup trial who said that she had only eaten celery for two months, and she was going crazy about her videographer. I am sure that only eating celery for two months does not help keeping track of a million little details.

Of course it is important to be healthy, but I say if your betrothed really loves you, they'll still say "I do" after you load up on burritos and chips at your Bachelorette party. And I am sure the millions of couples getting married every year will be much happier if they focus on the inner changes of the process of actually becoming married rather than trying to change themselves to resemble models in bridal magazines.

5 comments:

  1. At it's core is the on-going (ridiculous) societal message that women some how have to be supermodels (who are paid to be thin and have personal trainers and airbrushing by the way), while also working, being a mother, maintaining a "perfect" household, etc. Maybe if a generation of women finally says "enough is enough" then we could imagine a day when our daughters will be happy with who they are and get married as the amazing women they are, not some intractable image.

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  2. Oh I know! Everyone would look great if they had all the time in the world to spend on their looks, and half of models in magazines are photoshopped anyway (sometimes is ways that make them look worse and anatomically inpossible). I thought it was interesting in the article that things had changed in bridal magazines in regards to weight loss even since the 1990s.

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  3. Hey, I recognize those screenshots! :)

    I really hated this phenomenon when I was planning my wedding. I actually very purposefully didn't change a damn thing about myself. I wanted to look like myself at the wedding, just maybe a little fancier than usual. I even wore my glasses - I never wear contacts in real life, why should I suddenly wear them for the wedding? So many women spend so much energy trying to emulate this magazine-perfect wedding day, it's really unfortunate because all it does it make them feel inadequate, especially where weight is concerned.

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  4. Haha, Megan I couldn't find any good ones right then so I took them for your facebook page, hope that's ok! Shows how much I still love your album haha.

    I love your pics where you were wearing glasses! It actually looks like you. Then I feel like there is a bigger problem that you always look back on it like "will I ever look like that again?" Your pictures you will have for the rest of your life look nothing like you, what good does that do? Then when it just feels like a huge, romantic party with their loved ones and not a red carpet, perfect event meant for royalty, I am sure there is a letdown there. How can you be inadequate in an event that is important in your own life? Like it is a celebration of your love together, how can half the part of the couple being celebrated be inadequate? Compared to what? That book The Selling of the American Wedding asks how modern weddings would be different without bridal magazines (and the first one was not invented until the 1930s I think, and they did not become popular until the 1950s, and they definitely were not 500 pages then), and I think they would be different.

    Anyways, again people don't have to listen to bridal magazines. My point is I am not - on purpose.

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