“So…what is your goal weight?”
That was my colleague’s first reaction when I showed her a picture of my brand new designer (plus size!) wedding dress, my pride and joy.
Only moments before, half the office was huddled over my phone asking me what veil I would wear, what kind of shoes I would have, how I would do my hair and makeup – I had answers for all these questions, but I didn’t know how to answer this one.
As someone who studies fat culture and fat shaming for a living, you’d think I’d be able to ignore her. I’ve lived 26 years in this fat body and I’ve experienced my fair share of size-ism. I’ve been up and down the scale, though I don’t weigh myself often. Occasionally I’m an 18, most of the time a 20, and sometimes a 22 or 24. While I certainly struggle with body image and with clothing myself, I recognize how much privilege I have as a white woman who can find entire outfits on the high street.
I shrugged my coworker’s question off, but I wish I had told her: my skin and shape and size are my own, and I do not make time or space for those who need that to change. I believe that now, but I spent years imagining that a smaller body would solve my problems – one particularly dreadful chart in an old journal compares potential weights against the likelihood my crush would love me back: “175 lb = 50% chance!”
I have come a long way from those days. I fell in love with myself, and later with my considerably smaller husband, at a weight middle-school Abi did not even bother adding to her chart. Still, I worried wedding planning would ruin my progress. I worried flipping through endless pins of model thin boho brides would make me unable to enjoy my own body in similar poses. I worried I would never find a dress I liked (ugh, “Bridal Sizing”), or that people would laugh at me.
For a while after I found my dress those thoughts had melted away, but my coworker’s question brought them flooding back. I turned to my Maid of Honor (the Big Bride Club’s own Jane Janeczko Langland herself) for reassurance. She helped me find examples of beautiful plus size brides and reminded me I was worthy of the wedding I wanted to have.
As I write this, I am the heaviest I have ever been. I am a little over a year into my PhD and filled with stress and an insatiable desire for simplicity (read: takeout). I gained weight just before my wedding, in the weeks following my final dress fitting. I was scared to be photographed that way, with double chin and arms on full display in a dress I had tried on a good few pounds earlier. I was nervous, but on the day I couldn’t have been happier.
When I saw the work Jane and Ingrid were doing with the Big Bride Club, I couldn’t resist getting involved. Their mission speaks volumes. No digging through miles of Google and Pinterest searches to find examples of real, happy, plus brides. Just unabashed appreciation of all things wedding and all things big bride.