What Can I Do to Help My Bridesmaids to Chill about Their Bodies?

I haven't asked them to be my bridesmaids because of how they look


Q: I am getting married next year and have chosen three wonderful brideswomen, a bridesman, and a bridesgirl (my younger sister). Of the adult women who are kindly rocking up to support me on my wedding day, all of them have mentioned losing weight for my wedding.

I am trying as much as possible to enable them to feel confident on my big day. I have said it would be cool for them all to pick their own dresses in a similar color—so people can wear what they feel comfortable in—and at no point have I mentioned losing weight! I am not even planning on putting that kind of pressure on myself. I can understand why people want to—and if I lose weight as a result of being healthy between now and then, that’s fine and everything—but it’s not my goal.

We are all a similar size to each other, but even if we weren’t, it wouldn’t matter. I haven’t asked them to be my bridesmaids because of how they look.

What should I do? They’re all grownups, and I can’t force body positivity—but I hate the idea that my wedding has caused them to feel bad about themselves, and nervous about trying on dresses. I also want to make sure my sister (who will be almost eleven years old at the time of our wedding) won’t pick up on any bad vibes about women’s bodies. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

—Just the Way She Is

A: Dear JTWSI,

It’s got nothing to do with you, and it’s got nothing to do with your wedding making anybody feel bad. It’s got everything to do with the weird habits we build around our bodies. For some folks, there’s an expectation that looking nice for a wedding means losing a few pounds. Like every other off-base wedding expectation, all you need to do is chat about it honestly: “Hey, I know you said you want to lose weight, but I hope it’s not because you think I expect it.”

It’s also good to remember that sometimes really confident, body-positive people want to lose weight, and there’s nothing wrong with that—just like sometimes really confident, body-positive people don’t want to lose weight, and there’s nothing wrong with that either. We sometimes get this idea that the only healthy way to talk about weight is to pretend it doesn’t exist. And weddings, as always, only compound the problem.

But let’s assume you know all that. Maybe you’re not just having a knee-jerk reaction to weight-loss chat, but your friends really have said some terrible, self-deprecating things that give you cause for concern. Even still. It’s not up to you to determine how your friends should feel about themselves. Even if it’s your wedding. Even if you think they’re stunning. Even if they are.

So, what can you do? Well, you mentioned that little sister of yours, and I think it’s fair to ask for no negative body talk around her. The weird habits I mentioned above? Talking smack about our own bodies is definitely one of those. It’s not something most people think about. I’ve been around kids all day literally for years, and I sometimes still slip up and poke at my own appearance in front of them.

You also can help to create a body-positive atmosphere by just honestly complimenting your friends. It never hurts to let your friends know when they look good (and to be specific!). They don’t have to be weight-related comments (in fact, steer clear of those), but things like, “Your hair is on point,” and “That’s a terrific color on you,” are just nice to hear. Instead of telling other women how they shouldn’t feel, instead try telling them how you feel—especially if it’s that you love them, and you think they look great!

You can’t control whether your friends try to lose weight before your wedding. In fact, your wedding’s got nothing to do with it. But you can contribute to some body positivity by asking your friends to avoid negativity when it comes up, and chatting up how great they already are.


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  • Amy March

    Just let them be people. It is far too easy for something that in your head sounds lovely and supportive to sound out loud like not only do you want them to be bridesmaids but you also want control over their thoughts and opinions. As long as you aren’t instructing them on your bridesmaids website to wear Spanx because “we don’t want any unsightly bulges”* this just really isn’t thing about you or your wedding at all.

    *actual real life example from a bride who also specified 10mm pearls

    • tr

      I actually had a bridesmaid ask me what size of pearls I wanted her to wear, and informed me that I needed to send an email to all of the bridesmaids telling them what size of pearls so that “nobody would ruin the pictures”!

      • Jess

        In my brain, a bridesmaid gets pearls 2mm too big and every picture she’s in has weird static blocking people’s faces. Pictures, ruined.

    • Man, society sure does a number on bridesmaids.

  • Ashlah

    Oh man, I heard this from my mom and mother-in-law in the lead-up to our wedding. I had gotten to a really comfortable place with my body, was (and am) totally against negative body talk, and had no intentions of losing weight for the wedding. I was actually at my heaviest weight by the time the wedding rolled around, and I felt beautiful! So it was weird, and hard, and sad, and confusing that these women were making my happy moment all about how terrible they felt about themselves. I was sad for them because I know it’s not that easy to just “get over” years of body image problems, but it was also exhausting and made me kind of angry because, well, I didn’t want to be exposed to it. It can be hard to maintain confidence in your body when everyone around you is tearing down their own.

    You can’t control how your friends feel about their bodies, or whether they’re going to use your wedding as a motivator to lose weight (which is totally fine if it’s a healthy goal), but you’re well within your rights to ask that they silence the negative body talk around you, and especially around your young niece. I wish I’d set boundaries with my own mother earlier because it’s only gotten worse as I’ve recently lost weight. It feels like that’s all we talk about when we’re together, and it’s gotten to the point where she points out the “flaws” of women’s bodies we see in public. I know it comes from a place of her own insecurities, but I need to have a conversation with her about it and it’s going to be hard. I wish I could magically transfer my contentedness with my body to her, but the best I can do is to ask her to limit that language around me, which I think is the limit of what you can do with your bridesmaids.

    • Jess

      Ergh… pointing out flaws in other women’s bodies around you. Hello Mom for my entire life.

      • Alexandra

        Seriously! My mom and the pointing out of flaws in other women…it’s so horrifyingly toxic and I have bungled boundaries on this several times. She’s awful in so many directions; clothes, bodies, and one of her big things is tattoos (I have a tattoo, and my best friend has sleeves!). Walking on the beach, she’ll always talk about how women with tattoos look like lizards. It drives me crazy and I never know what to say except to clam up and try to change the subject.

        I remember observing her mother (my late grandmother) being even harsher about appearance/body/clothes issues on women, and her sister (my aunt) has an eating disorder and some other not-insignificant mental health issues at least partially as a result of this incessant haranguing and obsession with perfection. I also recall her being very approving of my own lucky genes in this department (I was adopted and have always been fairly slim, in contrast to the women in my adoptive family) and feeling very uncomfortable growing up about that being the reason she liked me. It’s horrible. Awareness of this as a problem is new, but the problem itself seems quite old.

        • Jess

          “Awareness of this as a problem is new, but the problem itself seems quite old.”

          Yes!! This!! It’s something that we are passed down from our mothers who got it from their mothers and so on. And at no point has it *ever* been a good idea.

          Regarding getting “lucky genes” – I am thin. My mother is not large, but was sort of-ish as a child and her mom & sister were very thin. Part of what kicked off my issues was the fact that I constantly heard how thin I was and how that so was much better than her and better than the women we see. So, of course, when I hit puberty and got cellulite, and hips, and thighs, and stretch marks and so on…all those comments about who shouldn’t be wearing shorts and who should cover up at the beach and who shouldn’t be wearing certain cuts of pants really echoed in my head.

          It was a great mix of feeling guilty for looking how I did, feeling like the only reason people liked me was for looking that way, and feeling like I was becoming less as I changed because of *gasp* hormones.

      • tr

        My dad does that! Like, for the most part, he’s a really great guy and not a chauvinist pig at all, but oh my gosh, there is not a body, male or female, that he doesn’t have a comment about! It seriously hurts when he comments on the weight of someone who’s maaaaaybe one or two sizes larger than I am!

    • sofar

      Augh. We were at the mall and my future MIL pointed out a pretty yellow dress and said, “That’s the kind of dress I’d wear at your wedding, but don’t worry. I won’t get it unless I lose weight.” And I said, “I think it’s gorgeous and you should wear whatever makes you the happiest.”

      And then, during my engagement party, I saw her and her friends chiding each other about their weight. That’s just …how they bond, I guess? She came up to me during the party and was like, “Wow, have you seen Lily, Alice’s daughter? She’s gotten fat.” And I laughed and said, “Ummm, I’m not sure who Lily is, but everyone here looks beautiful. What does Lily do again? If I talk to her later, I’d like to know more about who she is as a person.” My MIL was *visibly* disappointed.

      One of my bridesmaids just had a baby and is FREAKING out that she won’t have lost the baby weight “in time” for my wedding. My bridesmaids are picking their own dresses, so it’s not like she has to fit into a specific dress. But, I swear to god, if my MIL (who has known this bridesmaid since she was a kid) says ANYTHING about her weight, I will see red.

      • Danielle

        It’s so sad to me that this is one way that women can bond.

        Hello, internalized oppression :/

    • Poppy

      My future in-laws are also awful about this. I can’t remember a visit with them where they didn’t trash their own looks to no end. Every holiday meal is accompanied with proclamations about the diets the food and drink will require. They comment constantly on the appearances of other people, both men and women. It makes me so uncomfortable, in part because it makes me feel like my eating habits and physical appearance are being monitored and scrutinized in their home, in part because I really want to be allowed to feel good about my body as I age, and in part because they are beautiful, vibrant, healthy people!! Their first reactions to our engagement? “We’re going to have to lose weight!” I’ve never brought this up to them before, but I’ve often thought to myself “when we have children, this is NOT going to fly.” I wish I could figure out how to get them to stop right now.

      Anyone have any successful experiences bringing these issues up to in-laws?

      • Olivia

        I’ve had a very similar experience with my SO’s family. Many of the women complain about how their ankles are too thick or their thighs are too fat, there’s semi-regular discussion about who should and shouldn’t be wearing what, and larger/older (mostly female) bodies get turned into punch lines. I totally understand feeling scrutinized — my SO’s mother is a naturally slender woman, so if she’s making disparaging comments about herself, what must she think about ME, with my belly, wide hips, big butt, and large thighs. When I want to simultaneously go on a tirade about body politics and quickly change the subject out of extreme discomfort, I try to remember that 1) she’s actually a very sweet lady and is most likely not thinking nasty things about me, and 2) people generally think about themselves more than they think about other people. I try my best to be body positive, but when I have bad days, I’m only conscious of myself. Everyone else still looks beautiful when I’m getting down on myself for my doughy midsection.

        I’m still not the best at handling these situations, but when it’s applicable, I try to take the same approach I use with racist relatives at family dinners. Make them explain themselves. If someone asks you if you’re gonna loose weight for your wedding, ask them why they think you would do that. If someone makes a joke about a fat/old body giving them nightmares, shrug like it’s not funny. The more you make it clear that you are not here for this kind of talk, the more they’ll start to think critically about what they’re saying.

  • Sara

    I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I was a bridesmaid in three weddings in the same summer and constantly said I wanted to diet to ‘fit’ into the dresses. Did I diet? Not really. Was I thrilled with my body day of? Not really because I knew there were a thousand pictures of me and I tend to photograph poorly. I think people focus on the picture aspect and overthinking about it – losing weight is a small way of taking control of that. But my brides all said stuff to the effect of “don’t worry about it, you look great.” or “not necessary but do whatever you want” and it made me feel loved by them. Just show them love and let them figure it out – as long as no one goes too extreme of course.

  • Jess

    I am struggling with this same thing, but adding in that I have a long standing history of struggling with disordered eating. Often, discussions of weight loss attempts throw me into “I should be doing this, I need to correct my [insert whatever body section they are talking about]”

    So, when people make comments about needing to lose weight for my wedding, while I am already expending a lot of mental energy to NOT think those thoughts about myself, it really sucks.

    I say the same things, over and over in a very bored tone of voice, shutting off from the conversation – “as long as you are comfortable” “do whatever makes you happy” “Everyone is going to look beautiful no matter what”

    I figure if I check out of the discussion, eventually they’ll just get bored talking about it to themselves and change topics.

    • Anon

      Yes, thank you for bringing this up. I definitely experienced this during wedding planning. One BM was losing baby weight for the wedding, and even that was triggering for me. I asked to stop being updated as to her progress. People thought this was something I would really want to know about, and I didn’t!
      I didn’t go so far as to say that it was triggering for me, but I did say that those little details were stressing me, and that I trusted they would get sorted and I didn’t want to know about it in the mean time. If I recall correctly, I said that to my sister and she ignored me. So- pretty disappointing, but looking back I’m glad I at least said something.

      • Jess

        I’m really sorry that it happened to you, too.

        “People thought this was something I would really want to know about” <- This is such a weird assumption that seems to happen all the time!

        Why? I do not care what you look like in pictures, I care that you are smiling. I do not care what size dress you have to order, I care that it's one you'll be comfortable enough in to dance. I like you the way you look right now. If you want to change, fine, but you don't need my permission or approval, and you don't need to check in with me quarterly.

        Weight loss an area where I really struggle to be supportive of my friends. I want to be, but I just can't raise the banner and pop confetti for it.

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  • Anon for this

    I’m not proud of this (hence anon), but when I was getting married, I was a total wreck about my weight and how I would photograph. I would compare myself constantly to the photos on Style Me Pretty, The Knot, and…yeah, even the gorgeous ladies of APW and always find myself wanting. One time with my fiance, I had a total breakdown and started sobbing about how I’d never be my college weight again and how I was just going to keep getting “fatter and fatter” and how ashamed I was. My fiance very sweetly told me that he thought I was beautiful, that I was a perfect weight, and most importantly, that he wasn’t concerned at all about how I’d look in the pictures because he was just so thrilled to be marrying me.

    My response? A dramatic eye roll and a, “I obviously know that, duh. This isn’t about YOU.”

    Eventually I came to peace with my body and realized how frankly fucked up it is that some blogs (not APW!) treat brides and grooms like they’re supposed to be models rather than people getting married, but moral? It’s not most likely not about you or your wedding, it’s just that your wedding is a convenient inflection point to bring stuff like this to the surface.

    • JenC

      I was going to be the body positive bride, I wasn’t going to lose any weight for the wedding or feel the need for shapewear. Cue meltdown where I am sat at work spamming my bridesmaid with texts asking if I need to wear Spanx, what Spanx do I need, how do I pee in Spanx and how do I pee in Spanx AND a wedding dress? At lunch when she finally got to her phone she rang me asking what had prompted the Spanx meltdown and calmly told me to wear normal panties and politely explained how to pee in a wedding dress. That wasn’t one of my prouder moments.

      • toomanybooks

        Yeah, same, until I realized every freaking wedding dress right now seems to be a mermaid silhouette, which is very belly-hugging.

        • JenC

          I ended up with an A-line skirt but a mermaid was actually the runner up for me. I looked at Mori Lee’s plus size range Julietta – http://www.morilee.com/bridals/julietta. The dress was still a bit belly hugging but it was several sizes too small but not so much that I felt it would still be belly hugging if I got it in my size.

      • CrazyCatLibrarian

        I have a bridesmaid in CA (I’m in MD), and she’s already been designated the “Call me out and tell me to calm down when I’m being an idiot and stressing about stupid shit and then calmly talk me through it” bridesmaid. She’s very no-nonsense and blunt in a way I find funny and helpful.

        • Cat

          Haha, I was this bridesmaid for my bestie last year, and I’ve told her that she’s that bridesmaid for me. We’ve always had the kind of friendship where we call each other out on our crap, so it works great. I’m glad you’ve got such a great bridesmaid!!

    • Violet

      I’m sorry you went through feeling so badly. For what it’s worth, I kinda appreciate your dramatic eye-roll response to your fiance. Men are under this impression that how women look only matters in so far as how *they* feel about a woman’s body. Which, nope. I get to have an opinion of my own body, irrespective of how others perceive it. So anyway, I happen to think you were right, that it wasn’t about him. It was about you, and you figured it out for you.

      • Jess

        “Men are under this impression that how women look only matters in so far as how *they* feel about a woman’s body.” <- This this this this this this this this this.

    • Michela

      I was very anxious about how I would look- at my heaviest- for my wedding photos, until I realized that the first thing I notice about brides in APW real wedding posts are how HAPPY they look. I never notice arms or bellies or thighs- I notice beaming smiles. As soon as I came to this realization, my anxiety quieted. Happiness is a beautiful thing that glitters everything it touches. Why would my wedding- or yours- be any different? (See attached photo of me with our brothers as proof; normally I would bemoan my arms, but instead I just remember how happy we were that day!)

      We don’t have many photos back yet, but the ones I have seen don’t seem to follow the normal, internalized self-criticism because I just look so damn happy.

      And, for what it’s worth, I’m easily losing weight post-wedding because it’s a hell of a lot easier to meal prep and work out when you aren’t planning a wedding with families on different continents while also working full-time and finishing your last semester of grad school.

      • Jess

        I always notice smiles first, too. I love this photo!

        • Michela

          Thanks! A happy person is a beautiful person, bride or not.xo

    • Kayjayoh

      “My response? A dramatic eye roll and a, ‘I obviously know that, duh. This isn’t about YOU.'”

      Beautiful. <3

  • raccooncity

    In fairness, even though the root of the problem isn’t the wedding, it can be a lot of pressure when people decide their reason du jour for losing weight is your wedding.

    We had my BIL in the wedding party because he’s the best and we both love him. He and his wife decided to lose weight for the wedding, and that was the first time they’d had “enough motivation” to do it since their wedding, many years prior. Updating us on their progress and assuring us they would be thinner for pics was their personal accountability process in losing weight, it seemed. We both felt very uncomfortable with that, because we love them any way they come and also felt the pressure of being ‘the reason’ for the weight loss. Even when we told them we didn’t prefer them 40 pounds thinner, they still said it was “FOR YOUR WEDDING!” and it made it hard to shrug off.

    • Jessica

      I used my brother’s wedding as a motivating factor to lose X amount of pounds–after gaining all of it after my own wedding 2 years ago. Having a set date that I can’t move helps to motivate, but I never told my brother and SIL about the goal weight/date. It seems weird to put that on others.

      It’s been a month since their wedding, and I now feel great and motivated to continue on a path to better health, and I hope you BIL and his wife feel that way too–that it’s for them, not you.

      • raccooncity

        That’s cool. BIL and SIL stopped dieting and working out after our wedding because the pictures were over, but that’s their choice as much as it was to lose weight for photos. Mr. RC and I both didn’t judge their decision because we’re both stick people and the wedding party was generally on the thinner side, so perhaps that was part of the pressure. And besides that I don’t know the feeling of living in a fat-phobic world as a fat person so it’s not my place to decide how to do it.

        However, I do get that the feeling of pressure that something you’re doing is a touchstone for someone else feeling bad about their body, is a weird/uncomfortable road to navigate, for sure.

  • CrazyCatLibrarian

    I’m sort of dealing with this myself as the bride-to-be. I’ve known for awhile that I need to lose weight (this comes from my doctor because of health reasons), and I’m using my wedding as a deadline/motivation to get myself out there and do something about it finally. My fiancé is doing the same, but his attitude is very self-deprecating. I’m having a hard time balancing the desire to lose weight with not wanting to feel shallow for doing it “for my wedding.” At the same time, I also want to get better at accepting myself the way I am, and trying to help my fiancé do the same. Yes, we both have health reasons for needing to lose some weight, but I don’t see how hating myself in the meantime could possibly help the situation. It’s hard for me to convince him of this, though, because he thinks any sort of acceptance of his body at it’s current state will keep him from his goals. I try to not bring up the subject, just quietly go to the gym and make healthier food choices (I do almost all the cooking), but he keeps bringing it up. I want to be encouraging, and the two of us trying to make changes together definitely helps. He’s told me repeatedly that he thinks I’m beautiful and loves me the way I am and so on, and just wants to support me in whatever changes I want to make, but it’s hard not to internalize the negativity he has for himself sometimes.

    • Ashlah

      The only time in my life I’ve found and kept the motivation to be active and eat healthier happened after I accepted and loved my body as it was. I feel like you need to love your body (or at least be respectful of it) before you’re going to treat it well. Self-hate is a big de-motivating force for a lot of people. Maybe it works for some, but I think hating oneself is not typically a good starting point for making healthy changes.

      I’m sorry for how your partner’s language affects you, and I totally understand it. You say that you try not to bring it up, but I think maybe you should. Tell him explicitly that it hurts you and makes this process harder for you and that you would prefer he not speak that way around you. My husband is similar, and I really don’t want to be dismissive of his feelings or have him feel like he can’t talk about his body image issues with me, so it’s hard to find the right balance. At the very least, maybe your husband can cut back on the frequency of his casual remarks, but know that he can come to you to talk if he’s having a particularly hard day.

      • CrazyCatLibrarian

        Beating myself up about it has only resulted in my eating an entire pizza because fuck it, I’ve already ruined my day by having two pieces so why not six more? Part of the problem is that everyone if my family is overweight, but used to be really active and healthy when we were younger. I would think it would make it easier, since I know what it’s like to have healthier habits and used to really enjoy sports, but I also know what it’s like to be a smaller size and comparing myself now to the way I was then just makes it harder.

        And I might need to have the conversation you suggested soon, because he literally texted me his weight after his doctors appointment this afternoon. Because I need to know/care? Who knows.

        • Amy March

          Because he needs your support, and for him that involves you knowing what is actually happening in his life?

          If his comments are genuinely so problematic for you that you really can’t handle them, ask him to stop. But it sounds more difficult for him than your right now. He is supporting you and your efforts, he’s not undermining you, he isn’t telling you how to process this. He’s just doing it differently. You getting better at accepting yourself is your work to do, not his. If he wants to do that work (and I agree with you that it would be good), he needs to do it. I don’t think it is fair to him to expect him to turn around his self-image so that you can fix yours.

    • Violet

      Honestly, I can understand how some people might think that hating themselves until they lose weight will work. Negative reinforcement (whereby we are motivated to continue a behavior–in this case, eating less and/or working out–because doing so eliminates a negative experience–in this case, self hatred) is an effective behavioral method in many cases. I am motivated to floss my teeth every day because then my gums won’t bleed. If I don’t floss, they’ll bleed. Increase/maintain the behavior (flossing) to remove the negative experience (bleeding): voila, negative reinforcement.

      But from what I’ve observed only anecdotally, self-hate does not seem to help people lose weight. It seems to make them miserable. Any people who manage to lose weight *despite* feeling terrible about themselves are probably the outliers. And I’ll bet they could have lost the weight without hating themselves, as it seems the mechanism for change is elsewhere. I totally agree with Ashlah that if his strategy (which is unlikely to work, anyway) is negatively impacting you, you get to say so.

      • CrazyCatLibrarian

        I wish negative reinforcement worked for flossing for me. I avoid it because of the bleeding. The only thing that’s working now to make me do it is my dentist telling me there’s no way he’ll approve professional whitening with my gums even slightly swollen, and I’ve wanted to whiten them for awhile and am using the wedding as motivation (again with the deadlines). lol So bribery works, I guess?

        But yea, of all the people I know who have actually lost any amount of weight through guilt, about 0% of them have managed to keep it off for any period of time. It usually involves cutting out entire food groups or some other extreme form of dieting, and I’m not willing to give up cheese and belgian beers, even if it means I’ll be a size 4 again.

        • Violet

          Haha, not bribery- that’s positive reinforcement, wherein you get something you want (whitening) after doing the behavior (flossing). (Bribery is when you get the reward first and are *then* supposed to follow up. That… is not effective.)
          Seriously. Cheese, Belgian beers. I don’t know if you’re on the “right” track, but we’re certainly on the same track. : )

          • CrazyCatLibrarian

            My college should probably revoke the Psychology degree I’m not using anyway, considering I can’t even keep basic behavioral psychology straight anymore.

          • Violet

            They’ve already sent a guy to come collect that diploma. Don’t answer the door!

        • Abby

          Not to stop you from flossing, because if you’re doing it that’s great and you should keep going, but because I was in the same boat of not flossing because bleeding forever, I wanted to share the life-changing secret my super-understanding, non-gum-shaming dentist told me: if you don’t floss regularly, an electric toothbrush is a far less painful way to get your gums back to baseline health where you can floss without causing a horror movie in your mouth. I didn’t really believe her, but I figured the lazy option was worth a shot, and 6 months later, still almost never floss, infinitely healthier mouth. 100% recommend working it into your wedding budget.

          • CrazyCatLibrarian

            Hmm I’ve always considered getting an electric toothbrush but never could justify the expense ($50+ for a toothbrush just sounds so weird to me). I might have to, though, because flossing hurts my mouth and my fingers and I’m a lazy baby who just doesn’t want to. The Philips Sonicare is also apparently on sale of Amazon so I’ll call it a wedding expense and do it already.

          • Abby

            I felt the exact same way but am so glad I sucked up the expense, it’s made a huge difference. And that’s the one I got (also on sale, I think it was around $40) and it works great!

        • Also not to discourage you from flossing, but a pretty decent photographer will be able to whiten teeth lickety split, minimal effort. And I’ve heard good things about some of the more expensive over the counter whitening products ;)

          • CrazyCatLibrarian

            Ha I work with photographers and I’ve definitely brought personal photos to them before and asked if they could photoshop out slipping bra straps and maybe do whatever it is Kim Kardashian does to her photos but maybe without warping the background? I generally don’t smile with my teeth showing, so I’m not too worried about the photos themselves, just my tea-stained teeth clashing with my dress in person. I’ve tried the Crest Whitestrips before, but didn’t really see any results :/

          • Lisa

            I’ve never had success with OTC whitening products either! My next step would be to pay my dentist for something, and I’m too cheap/lazy to get that done.

    • ktmarie

      Your statement about not wanting to feel shallow about getting healthy for your wedding really resonates. I had been wanting to make some eating and exercise changes to my lifestyle for a while before I got engaged, and having a wedding date was great motivation. But anytime I happened to mention it I got the response ‘you don’t need to lose weight for your wedding!’ (which is great!) or sometimes a scolding for ‘giving in’ to wedding expectations, but I was like… I really just want to do this for myself, period. And I’ve held on to a lot of those good habits now for a couple years after our wedding. Sounds like you’ve got a great attitude, it’s so important to practice acceptance even if there are areas you want to change. Good luck!

  • Loren

    I think a lot of women (especially in American culture) have been conditioned to talk negatively about physical appearance. But we’ve also been conditioned to tell each other ‘My arms are SO fat’, ‘Oh no, your arms are so skinny, but look how fat MY thighs are!’
    I have an agreement with a couple of my girlfriends that if we think we are falling into one of these weird cycles we will call each other out on it.
    When it comes to other friends I simply do not respond. Sometimes it’s shocking how quickly not responding to the cycle will break it.
    With one very close friend I have started just agreeing with her. She starts in with a ‘I’m so tall, I hate how tall I am.’ and I answer ‘Oh yes, you are absolutely enormous, you are basically a monster.’ and she rolls her eyes at me and shuts up.

  • Violet

    Sigh. Every time there’s a thread about body negativity and people start sharing their stories about people talking negatively about their own or others’ bodies, I get so sad, and think:
    1. Call my mom to thank her Yet Again for not doing this. (And my dad, too. If I ever heard him make a derogatory comment about someone’s body, I’d call his doctor, because it’s obviously the sign of some neurological disease emerging.)
    2. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. True in kindergarten, true today.

    • Rachel Sloper

      Yeah, my mum has her probs as do all mums, but it took me many years to realise what a fab gift she gave me by just.not.caring. about this stuff. Her body is a thing to put fun clothes on, go for hikes in, swim in and feed normal amounts of delicious healthy food. THANK YOU MUM.

    • Elizabeth

      I didn’t know that my mom had her own body issues until I was an adult and she admitted that she was very very careful to never pass them on or talk about her body in a negative way in front of us or comment about other people’s weights or pass judgement in that manner because she deliberately didn’t want to pass on something she felt had been harmful to her self-image. It wasn’t 100% that she managaged, but it was maybe 99%, and that was definitely good enough to make it pretty much a non-issue when I was growing up and into now.

  • tr

    In general, I’m always amazed at how looks-obsessed weddings are! My bridesmaids haven’t mentioned too much about trying to lose weight specifically for the wedding (most of them are on a perpetual diet), but I have fielded sooo many questions about how I want them to look for the wedding! I appreciate that they’re trying to be considerate and all, but it feels so wrong to give a grown woman permission to get bangs! The incessant questions are starting to give me anxiety about it all–like, what if it really will look horrible that only one person has bangs? Should I be specifying that each person needs a certain color of toe nail polish? Will it, in fact, ruin the pictures if one girl’s pearl earrings are a slightly different shade of ivory? Logically, I know that there was a good reason I never specified those things when I asked my friends to be bridesmaids, but now one or two have them have me slightly convinced that the fate of the universe really does hinge on whether everyone’s haircuts coordinate!

    • Poppy

      I can relate to this so much. For now I’m hanging on to my first instincts on all of this – “wear whatever shoes and jewelry you want! Wear whatever dress makes you feel amazing!” It’s just getting harder to apply that same thinking to myself and my bridal sartorial choices.

      • tr

        Oh my gosh, yes!!! I thought that my taste was boring enough that there wouldn’t be any issue regarding my own beauty and sartorial choices (I mean, I’ve pretty much been rocking the same general look since junior high), but low and behold, here I am, wondering whether blue heels are too wild and if my blonde highlights clash with my dress!

        • Yet another Meg

          Not that my opinion should matter in the slightest, but no, blue heels are not too wild. I wore what I like to refer to as “Dorothy” shoes at my wedding i.e sparkly ruby red high heels. I love them. Wear whatever colour shoes you want!

        • Lisa

          To second Meg, wear whatever color shoes make you happy! Blue is actually pretty popular right now (as something blue), and I wore purple shoes to my own wedding. It’s a fun pop of color!

    • Kat

      I have so many friends who are going to be in various weddings and every. single. one of them has said something to me along the lines of “I want to cut/dye my hair but so-an-so wants it a) long or b) blonde for her wedding.
      That seems insane to me. Half the reason I love my friends is their eclectic, awesome individual styles. I can’t imagine asking my college roommate to be my bridesmaid but then telling her that her signature blue bob and winged eyeliner are not welcome.

  • Alyssa

    A friend of mine is a bridesmaid in a wedding this weekend. She was just told by a seamstress at a bridal shop, “This will fit as long as you don’t consume anything but water after 5pm the day before the wedding.”

    The last time I was a bridesmaid — I’ve told this story in APW comments before — I was out of state. I sent in my measurements, and the saleslady told me on the phone, “Do you think you could lose a couple of inches around your waist between now and the wedding? Your waist-to-bust ratio is not looking good for this dress.”

    So I’m so glad the LW is having her bridesmaids choose their own dresses. I hope they have better shopping experiences than my friends and I have had so that they aren’t pressured even more than they’re pressuring themselves. Or that, if they do end up in a bridal shop, the salespeople and seamstresses are not absolute villains.

    • Jess

      I can’t with these seamstresses. What the hell. How is this acceptable? Your job is to make the dress fit me, not make me fit the dress.

  • MissCosmopilite

    I have a similar struggle with my bridesmaids, especially my sister C, who is quite a large dress size and really lacking confidence. So we took her dress shopping. We focussed on discovering which styles flattered her shape, never once suggested she needed to change herself in any way, and if the dress didn’t flatter her, we laughed at it and blamed the design, not her body! It really worked, and she came away happy that there were options that made her feel happy and pretty. :)