I Gained 20 Pounds Before My Wedding and It Was Still Perfect

When my wedding was over, I was relieved. It was the most fun I’ve ever had, sure, and I was happy to be married and so thankful to our family and friends, but I honestly couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel and take my wedding dress off—and never, ever put it back on.

When you get engaged and you tell the internet about it, weight loss pills and workout plans hashtagged #sweatingforthewedding will start to fill your feed. “We don’t know you,” those ads seem to say, “but we know you’re getting married and we know somewhere inside you’re very nervous about what your arms will look like in your photos!” The onslaught is inescapable. I wasn’t prepared for it, and it made me angry. I had spent the majority of my 30 years on earth at war with my body, and now I was finally happy! I had found love! Leave me alone!

I expect to see this kind of pushy and tone-deaf marketing from influencers on Instagram, but I thought we had been dedicating real time and effort lately in order to combat this message in mainstream media. I was wrong; the New York Times apparently felt the need to weigh in with an article titled “The Perfect Workout for Your Wedding Dress Silhouette.” After a raging backlash from women like me on social media, the Times attempted to do damage control by changing the headline to “Getting Married? Get Strong”—a headline that doesn’t match the article’s content, which reads as a guide for women on how to change their bodies so they can be able to “rock” a specific kind of wedding dress on their big day.

Wearing a trumpet dress? The Times’s expert says this dress calls for a small waist and big hips, giving exercise routines to specifically “shape your hips and reduce the size of your waist, as well as tone your arms and abdomen.” An earlier version of the story—which has been “condensed” to take out some of the more offensive lines, including this one—suggested swimming as a way to burn calories before the big day, but warned against overdoing it “so that your back does not get too wide.”

Ma’am. If I am planning a wedding, you’re telling me I have to worry about how wide my back is? Thanks for the tip.

In the run-up to my wedding six months ago, I vowed to not let my body issues get to me. I didn’t want to miss such an important and special time in my life, the way I have in the past. The night I graduated from college, my hair wasn’t cooperating and I couldn’t find anything in my closet to wear. Long story short, I stayed home and missed the campus-wide celebration, sulking around my apartment because I felt I wasn’t inhabiting a body that “deserved” to have fun. That was 10 years ago and I still think about it with regret. I will never be a college graduate again. That’s over. I was not going to make the same mistake for my wedding.