Content Note: Negative self/body talk, distorted body image, dieting, restricting
I had a body image breakdown three months before my October wedding. I had just received my wedding dress and it would not zip up past my waist, no matter how I contorted my body. I was devastated, then disappointed in myself for letting it get to me, then completely overwhelmed by a cocktail of emotions I couldn’t translate into anything helpful. I was literally sitting in front of my computer and sobbing while researching fasts, detox plans and juice cleanses. Part of me felt GREAT for taking decisive action and finding a solution to my perceived problem. Another, much larger part of me cringed at the obvious backslide from all of the body-loving progress I had made in the previous 9 months; my weight was stable and I was active, healthy and happy.
But old habits and thought patterns are quick to return in times of stress. And, despite my happiness and my years of experience in event planning, I found myself succumbing to it. It started early in the process with random weight and diet related remarks from a handful of people, who likely had no idea how their words might trigger me. How could they? It’s not like many people knew how messed up my relationship was with food and my body. I began waking up with thoughts of having to find a dress to fit my body and feeling instant panic. That lasted for a couple of months before I worked it out with the help of professional support* and a few loved ones. I was just beginning to embrace my body and change my perspective, and then that dress arrived…bringing us back to the meltdown.
Internally, I had the healing me dismissing the hurting me, leading to quite the internal argument:
Healing Me: You don’t want to go on another diet! You’ve made so much progress; you’re so much healthier and happier than you were this time last year.
Hurting Me: But I can’t be fat at my wedding. Everyone will be looking at me. Everyone will see me!
Healing Me: Of course they will, it’s your wedding! If someone looks at you and judges you for your weight or appearance, that is their problem, not yours. Why the hell would you go inviting jerks like that to your wedding, anyway?
Hurting Me: Even if I don’t consider what people think, how will I deal with the pictures afterward? I can’t stand the thought of my fatness being forever captured in photographs. I don’t get a “do over.” It’s a one shot deal and I am already failing…
Healing Me: The only thing that matters is that you are marrying the man you love and that he loves you, too. All the rest of this is just bullshit to keep you from enjoying the big day!
Hurting Me: But, if I go on a diet now, I have 3 months. I can easily lose 20 pounds in that time! I’ve done it before, and I can do it again!
Healing Me: BULLSHIT! What is more important to you? Being smaller and “looking good,” or being whatever size you are and being healthy?
In the end, healing me won the argument. I did not go on another diet, cleanse, or detox. I joined a support group associated with the Go Kaleo website on Facebook for people working to overcome disordered eating patterns and unhealthy body image issues. Whenever the diet-demon reared its ugly head, I would tamp it back down again with the firm assertion that the event itself was the focus, not my dress size. I took the dress to a seamstress, who let out the back with a lovely corset lacing. I was happy, I was healthy and, most importantly, I enjoyed our big day with every ounce of my being and every single pound of my body. The only wedding blues I had were clear skies and my husband’s eyes.