June 19, 2011

The wedding diet

Summer is fast approaching here in La Jolla and San Diego. The gorgeous venues are booked solid, the best photographers have packed schedules, and the tailors are working hard on those white dresses; wedding season is upon us. Planning a wedding can easily become a stressful endeavor for anyone, so why is it that so many men and women add another stressor to their plate and invite dieting into their lives?

Two people go through life; they meet, date, fall in love, decide to spend the rest of their lives together, and then, after all that, start a diet to change their body size. Why do people want to change their appearance after they have already won somebody over, after they have a committed partner who loves them unconditionally, after they are engaged? Something is just not quite right with that picture.

Most often, it is the bride-to-be that is dieting. Women choose to count calories, restrict their intake, and increase their exercise for various reasons. Some are choosing to slim down for those timeless wedding photographs that hang on the walls forever. Other women have purposely bought a wedding dress that is too small in order to motivate their selves to lose the weight. Some women may say they are dieting in order to be healthier, but the majority of women are attempting to lose weight in order to achieve the ideal standard of beauty: thinness.

American society perpetuates the idea that thin is beautiful, while fat is ugly. It is no wonder that a woman, who is trying to look beautiful on her wedding day, is anxious to lose weight. Having one set standard for beauty is not in a woman’s or a man’s best interest; the only ones who benefit are the companies who have just the product for those interested in a pre-wedding diet. There are bridal boot camps, bridal fitness DVDs, diet pills, and the typical, everyday diet products that are marketed to the newly engaged.

Countless studies have shown that 95% of dieters who lose weight, gain the weight back within the year. Losing and gaining weight through dieting leads to yo-yo dieting, where a person goes on and off diets. This cycle of weight loss and weight gain is unhealthy and can lead to something even more unhealthy and severe: an eating disorder. Some form of dieting behavior typically precipitates anorexia nervous, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorders. With the right combination of risk factors, a man or woman could end up developing a full blown eating disorder after engaging in pre-wedding dieting.

So what are men and women to do about all this pressure to look their best on their wedding day? The answer is to continue as is. People do not propose so they can get to their wedding day and stand across from a physically different person and say, “I do,” despite what shows like Bridoplasty try and tell us. People propose because they want to spend their life with someone else, not the smaller version of that person. To combat the ideal standard of beauty, people can speak against unhealthy dieting behaviors, promote body acceptance at any size, and buy a fabulous dress or tux that fits them and looks great on them at their current size. Beauty comes from self-acceptance, confidence, and happiness. These are the things to aim for on your wedding day. And better yet, that self-acceptance, confidence, and happiness will not be lost within a year.