Devin Dearing Preston: NYC writer, playwright, and storyteller

Fat Bride

July 25, 2014

We do exist. It is frowned upon. But all the same, there are no coalitions I’m aware of that will intervene if you choose to squeeze your tubby ass into a sparkly white gown. You can expect a fair amount of social scorn and judgement as you waddle down the isle. But, if you can hold your resolve in the face of countless images of waif thin brides, years of tradition and wedding propaganda, you are a better woman than I. Something tells me I’m just going to suck it up and try to lose 20 pounds before I say ‘I do’. I hate myself a little for not being able to be the bigger person.

Granted, there is no ‘regulation’ weight every bride must fall under. I checked. A size 2 or 4 is ideal. I’ve lived my life up to this point, with a long held belief that marriage was some secret society reserved for women who conformed to the current standard of ideal beauty. See Victoria’s Secret or Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue for a visual reference. The physically imperfect need not apply. Maintaining membership also depends on ones own willingness to struggle against the effects of time and circumstance to hold steady at said physical ideal as if your marriage depended on it. Straying from the standard is grounds for dismissal. Your fat ass could prove any contract null and void. Stay young and beautiful or be traded in for a more willing subject.

In the face of future matrimony, I’ve found myself back at the gym? This can’t be right. I’m more than a little pissed about it. I fucking hate it here. It’s where I left my insecurities. All of them. Between the treadmills and free weights is a whole lot of shame and self hatred. I’m not looking forward to revisiting them for the next ten months as I contemplate till death do us part and other fun absolutes.

Honestly, after meeting my love, the fear of dying alone (the only effective motivator for routinely getting my butt on a treadmill) slowly dissipated. Nothing communicates “happily in a relationship” more clearly than a new muffin top and ample tukus. We call them love handles for a reason, people. My figure began to expand with my heart. They both grew together in love for this exceptional man. I’m merely a visual representation of the love I have found. Secure belonging just takes up more space than frightened desperation. You know, I had my cake and I was eating it too.This man loves me? All of me? He doesn’t care if I’m a size 4! Lord be praised. Pass the mash potatoes.

Then, he put a blingin’ ring on my finger and my new found figure acceptance shifted instantly to loathing. I can’t get married like this, was one of my first thoughts. A pair of spanks shouldn’t be any bride’s ‘something new’. The relentless self shaming for some 15 extra pounds led me to also consider a few non weight loss solutions before succumbing to self induced death by workout. Perhaps a non traditional, more slimming ‘alternative’ bridal gown color. It’s cool if I wear black, right? Or we could always elope with no photographer? I can be as thin as I remember being, if there’s no one there to witness it or snap a picture that would reveal the plus size truth.

I am basically searching for any solution that will save me from actually looking at why I think I need to be skinny to be loved or lovable. I’m very open to suggestions. Because answering this insecurity with exercise is actually easier than looking at that truth. Ideally, we women would actually feel beautiful and loved at any size. No work out required. But I don’t. I know I’m not alone.

Surely, I’m not solely responsible for feeling more like a fat calf being led to slaughter than a glowing bride being carried off into the sunset. This is an absurd thought that has to be fueled by more than just my own twisted subconscious. How is my lovability directly proportional to my dress size? The lower the number, the more deserving of happily ever after we women supposedly become? How did happiness get reduced to this simple formula? The less space we take up, the more relevant and deserving of commitment someone will find us? That can’t be right.

I’m quite certain that my man friend and future husband doesn’t see things this way. He’s been very clear. I’m free to be a little curvy. He claims to like it. This perplexes me and not just because it contradicts every image of female perfection I’ve been assaulted with for some 27 years. Even my pediatrician warned of the fate that awaited little fat girls before giving my a lollipop. From very early on, I knew being a little fat is a gross and punishable offense. This makes my fiancé’s preference hard to trust. You see, the exact measurement where I move from pleasantly plump to wholly unfuckable hasn’t been clearly stated. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, how am I suppose to keep control of how lovable he finds me. That is, if it can’t actually be measured in inches, pounds or dress sizes?

More upsetting than my personal struggle, is knowing this body image nonsense is still haunting modern women. It’s 2014 and we still aren’t free to just be our lovely female selves? Not without being reduced to a simple value judgement based solely on our appearance. Fat, thin or otherwise, it becomes a qualifier in every choice we ladies make. It isn’t enough to become a wife. You better be pretty and skinny enough for the honor. Same goes for CEO, MD or district
attorney for that matter.

Help me out here? A part of agreeing to this whole female thing, is consenting to meet a laundry list of physical expectations. Becoming a ‘Bride’ still carries with it all the trappings of years of female subjugation. We don’t have to promise to obey anymore, thank god. But your womanly duties are cleverly disguised as advice in bridal magazines and websites. One told me my first task after agreeing to wear my engagement ring was run out and get a manicure and keep it up. Then, start that workout regimen. The time will fly by and you’ll wish you’d started sooner.

The assumption that all future brides will want to slim down a little before their “Big Day” is unnerving, to say the least. With this ring we take on the responsibility of ensuring our man knows we are willing to do anything for him, including, but not limited to, gladly starving ourselves while obsessing over our outer appearance. Reassure him with your transformation that trusting his penis to your keeping from now until forever wasn’t a horrible mistake. His libido would appreciate it if you skipped bread and desert at least until the wedding. That way, all of his friends and family can witness that he’s sacrificed his peter’s freedom for all the right reasons.

I don’t even consider myself the vainest of people, but I’ve been unable to successfully escape this cultural pressure. Look pristine and perfect on your wedding day, or… there is no or. You just must look amazing. Be gracious. Also exude happiness and peace. Don’t get emotional. Or let others see your need to have the event unfold in flawless magnificence. It just should, because only crazy women buckle under the pressure of senseless perfection. Perfection is the standard, and if you can’t meet it, you might want to consider playing a different game. Only your love and future happiness hinges on the events of this one very special day, so don’t stress. Just do everything in your power to disguise any noticeable cracks in the glossy and might I add expensive veneer. Don’t ruin the entire illusion with a little extra jiggle, is all ‘they’ are suggesting.

Simply carry on as if the wedding and marriage that follows isn’t just another dumb farce, based on lie, founded on Lycra and an extra special padded bra. Your natural beauty hidden behind hours of manipulation and yards of bright white taffeta. Smile for the camera knowing that being married elevates your social status enough to justify these, the first of many, compromises. In a man’s world, let’s face it, you are still nobody till somebody loves you… So get that butt to the gym and show that man how thankful you are to him for finally validating your existence.

I personally want off the hook. This bridal standard is a painful reminder of a time when women had very few options in this world. It betrays the women who fought for us to have a say. That we continue to tailor our behavior to those expectations is ludicrous. I want my wedding day to be different. It shall instead be a visible representation of how vulnerable and strangely imperfect we humans are for this life long commitment. The whole event will unfold in chaos, we’ll exchange vows only by chance, to clearly illustrate the randomness at the bedrock of our love’s survival.

Plus, I need to be granted some wiggle room as far as my appearance is concerned. My dream wedding day will allow for a stray hair or four, smudged mascara and BBQ sauce down the front of my white shmata. I hope there’s even a hint of a belly that makes guests nervous about whether a baby isn’t already on the way. A bump just big enough that it begs someone to actually ask. My chubby ankles will be unabashedly exposed. Spinach stuck firmly between my teeth for the better part of the reception. Lipstick smeared all over my love’s collar. Flaws haphazardly sprinkled through out the whole over priced thing. Realism and acceptance being the only desired and acceptable aesthetic.

I need this day to remind my love he’s marrying an actual person, not some warped fantasy. That’s what all men need, actually. Better they find out as you are walking toward them, before it’s officially too late. We should present them  with a look that says his new wife is a woman who probably farts. Because she eats rich, fatty food with wild abandon. She shines with intelligence that hasn’t been eradicated with hours of mindless cardio at a gym. She’s not afraid to be present, take up space, or be her whole self. Nor will she apologize for what her lived life has done to her outer appearance.

So, I’m going to try to only loose 5 lbs. Maybe buy some spanks if my vanity gets the better of me and call it a day. If it’s all the same to you, a hint of illusion never hurt anyone. If I accidentally look great with all my efforts aimed at thwarting that pursuit… Well, it wouldn’t be the worst thing that ever happened to a feminist. Fat, thin or otherwise.

Categories: Unbecoming a Bride

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