Losing Weight for the Wedding

Continued (page 2 of 3)

So why do brides become obsessed with numbers on the scale and the size of their gown? Vanity plays a part, especially when it comes to photo albums. “You’re going to have those pictures forever; you want to be your ideal self, and everyone wants to look thin and pretty,” says Paige Barr, 35, an actress and casting director in Los Angeles who wore a strapless gown to her September 2006 wedding—and briefly worried about her upper-arm fat in advance. “There’s the pressure that ‘this is your big day; this is it,’” she says. “Every bride I know starved for her wedding.”

Simply shopping for what you’ll wear can cloud your psychology. As one reader noted on NYTimes.com, “The problem lies in the absolutely ridiculous sizing. My sister selected [designer] bridesmaids gowns. My normal, size 10–12 behind is being ‘stuffed’ into a size 18. If any of us actually were plus-sized, there is no way we would be able to wear one of these gowns.” Stephanie Lentini, a project coordinator for a real estate developer in Philadelphia, is 5'4" and weighs 113 pounds—down from 133. She felt pressure to lose weight for her wedding, thanks to her mother and a salesgirl in the bridal shop. “My mom would never tell me I looked fat, but when I tried on the dress, I was like, ‘I could stand to lose a couple pounds,’ and her response was, ‘Well…’” she says. “My bridal consultant was a double zero! That made me want to be smaller, too.”

And then there is the very real fact that, with so many wedding uncertainties (how the centerpieces will turn out, if family members will get along or what the best man will say in his toast), a bride’s weight is often the only thing she can control. “With any kind of eating problem—excessive dieting or more disordered—we talk in terms of control mechanisms,” says Stacey Rosenfeld, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist specializing in eating disorders at Columbia University Medical Center, in NYC. “You focus on your body and food to the exclusion of other things. At a stressful time like a wedding, when you’re trying to get everything together, it might be easier to focus on how many calories you’re eating.”

Stacy Berman, an NYC-based personal trainer and founder of Stacy’s Boot Camp, agrees. She estimates about 30 percent of her clients are brides, most of whom have waited until the last month to shape up and slim down. She believes many of these women are transferring anxiety about their big day onto their bodies. Of course, in the long run, focusing obsessively on your figure only increases anxiety. And brides’ crazy dieting behaviors often wreak havoc on their physical health as well. “I’ve had girls come in two weeks before their wedding and pass out in the middle of a fitting,” says Marianne Shearer, who owns a bridal salon in Fullerton, CA. And what takes place a few months into the marriage? “Most people put the weight back on—maybe more,” she says. “It’s like the Freshman 15.”

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