Am I Too Fat To Be A Bridesmaid?

My SIL passed me over

Q:DEAR AMY,

I’m extremely close with my family, especially my brother. I set him up with a friend I had known for years and they got engaged (yay!!), I’m so happy for them and they’re great for each other. They’ve been lovely and included me in their wedding website, crediting me for helping bring them together, which I appreciated greatly. We even planned for a weekend trip to some wineries to help them unplug and relax before their fall wedding. Then the communication on their part started tapering off and stopped completely when it was revealed I have no part in the wedding.

I’m the only member of the groom’s family with no involvement whatsoever. Our older and somewhat estranged brother is a groomsman, both of her sisters are bridesmaids, and our niece is a flower girl. I’ve been told numerous times that I don’t even have to wait at the church after the ceremony—to proceed to the reception space—not even for photos.

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I will credit her with the fact I was invited to the Vegas bachelorette (among—I kid you not—thirty-two other women), which I politely declined to the maid of honor because I simply couldn’t afford it. It’s come to light via social media—thanks, Instagram!—that her sizable bridal party is stacked with her extremely petite, perfectly Stepford sorority sisters. All of which I am absolutely not, at five foot eleven and carrying a bit too much weight.

When I met her family, I was largely ignored, although there was expressed excitement of “meeting the reason they’re together.” Her mother is extremely conservative and I made no effort to hide my thick, flabby arms or the small floral tattoos that cover my shoulders, both of which were met with very disapproving gazes. Let’s just say that if you stacked everyone in her family on one scale and me on the other, mine would still win.

I’ve been wracking my brain as to why I’ve been excluded from every aspect of this wedding and can’t figure it out, unless I’m simply too fat to be a bridesmaid. Tattoos aren’t that taboo, considering my brother is decorated with full sleeves. I could easily cover my tiny ones up with makeup if I needed to. Her bridesmaids are all uniformly small; I would have been the odd one out.

This has been destroying me. I’m extremely embarrassed; I’ve been working to lose weight, but because of this I’ve just felt nauseous lately. Do I reach out to either of them? My brother and I usually text throughout the day, but lately mine have gone completely unanswered. She and I used to be so close, and I was really excited to have a friend for a SIL. Should I just not go to the wedding?

—Embarrassed

A:DEAR embarrassed,

I am so sorry you’re feeling like this. It’s horrible to think you’ve been excluded from something because of your appearance. Frankly, most of us hoped fervently we left that feeling behind in middle school. At the end of the day, you’re the best judge of your own life, so I have to concede it is possible you are absolutely correct about what is going on here, and that’s such a sad thing. But would you maybe sit with me and consider some other possibilities?

Bridal parties do not need to be segregated on the basis of gender. But they often are! Your brother asked his brother to be a groomsman. Your future sister-in-law asked her sisters (sorority and blood) to be bridesmaids. That’s super common. And the fact that they are apparently Stepford-wife clones as far as appearance goes is unfortunate and one of the negative parts of sororities (yes fine obvi #notallsororities) but, again, not really about you. Often a bride’s brother won’t be either a bridesmaid or a groomsman, and a groom’s sister will be similarly not part of the party. I don’t think this is a great tradition, but it’s also definitely a plausible explanation that has nothing to do with your looks.

This whole “you don’t need to wait around for photos” thing? I have many follow up questions. Have you responded to this with, “Oh, actually I was really hoping to get at least one picture with all of us siblings and mom and dad and the two of you. Can you make sure that’s on the list?” That shouldn’t be a big deal at all. The response to this will either be “Of course” or “We don’t actually want that photo,” and that may help you figure out what’s going on here.

I understand it all feels horrible now, and they’ve stopped answering your texts, and her mom apparently has some issues. But I’m also wondering if, in this worry, you’ve inadvertently pushed them away. From her perspective, are you kinda ignoring her? I’m always on board with declining bachelorette parties you can’t afford, but did you really just decline to the maid of honor? And not also give her a call saying how glad you were to be included and how sorry you are that you just can’t make it happen and how you hope she has an amazing time? You’re telling me you were close before all this, but a polite decline to a third party for a major event with no follow up is not how you behave with a close friend. So it’s possible that she’s hurt, or thinks that you aren’t interested in being involved?

There’s no way around it I’m afraid. You need to speak to your brother. You’re drawing a lot of conclusions here without a sufficient factual basis. Sure, I’ll concede it’s possible your previously loving tattooed brother and your future sister-in-law have decided to deliberately exclude you because you have flabby arms and tattoos, but it seems unlikely to me.

Don’t jump from “not asked to be in wedding” to “not going to the wedding” without stopping by “call brother and invite him out for a drink and then discuss his wedding, and how you’d really like to be a part of it, and you’d be so honored to participate in any way, and particularly would he consider asking you to do a reading, and also FYI you do need to stay for photos because obvi mom and dad want a family photo.” There is no get out of jail free card for having that conversation.

You might be right. People are excluded from things because of various aspects of their appearance all the time. That is a very real and very hurtful thing. But it seems to me that before you end your relationship with your brother and throw a bomb into your family (which is what not going is), you owe it to yourself and to him to have a conversation.

—Amy March

HAVE A WEDDING QUESTION?
EMAIL ME: AMYMARCH [AT] APRACTICALWEDDING [DOT] COM.

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