wiwi blog

My big fat wedding dress

CW: Body image and diet culture.

This autumn, I'm getting married. It's been a long time coming — my fiancé and I have been together for 13 years, and we initially got engaged in 2020, not expecting the peak of COVID and associated restrictions to last so long (did anyone?). But now our planning is in full swing, and with that came the important task of selecting my dress.

I won't lie to you: I was scared. Scared that I would see my reflection in a wedding dress and hate it. Because from about 2019 to 2022, as my health declined and stress levels skyrocketed, I put on a lot of weight. I once wore straight sizes and now I'm shopping the plus racks.

I've tried my best to embrace the change and love my body as it is, to varying degrees of success depending on the day. (Designing plus-size OCs has been hugely helpful in boosting my confidence.) But my brain is such a hypocrite. When I look at other fat women, I think about how beautiful they are, but when I look at myself? Well, the saying that we're our own worst critics is definitely true for me. I hyperfixate on my double chin, on my stretch marks, on my rolls spilling over tight waistlines. I think things about myself that I would never speak out loud, because in our increasingly body-positive world, it almost feels like a betrayal to other big girls to admit that I have these insecurities in the first place.

Perhaps the worst thought I had leading up to my appointment was that I messed up by waiting. Having been together since high school, my fiancé and I wanted to be absolutely, positively, 100% sure that we were right for each other, so we waited until our frontal lobes had developed to make that level of commitment. Objectively smart, sure. Yet an ugly, insidious voice in my head told me that I had squandered an opportunity. I looked at photos of myself from grad school and thought, I could have been a skinny bride. If only I hadn't waited so long. But that ship had sailed. In all my wedding photos, for the rest of time, I'd be a fat bride. And according to society, that's worse.

It's not like these awful thoughts exist in a vacuum, after all. When researching advice on how to select the perfect dress, more articles than not had at least a line or two about following a wedding diet plan. God forbid you aren't looking your best (ie. thinnest) on the big day. If you can't fit into your dream dress, here's how you can lose weight fast to make it happen! Insert sponsored link to the Noom app, or some pseudoscientific juice cleanse. I know in the rational part of my mind that it's just diet culture, and diet culture is bullshit. But I'm also a regular girl with emotions. I can't pretend it didn't affect me after a while.

Anyway. There's a lot of complicated feelings there, so I was mega nervous to buy my dress. But I did what I could to ensure the best chances of me having a good time at my try-on appointment. I selected a boutique that specifically caters to larger brides and employs plus-size women. I brought my best friend and my fiancé with me (we don't believe in bad luck) and, much as I love her, decided that my mother would sit this one out. She has what I'll call a critical eye, and I knew that if even one comment came out about something accentuating my roundness, the whole thing would be over.

The employee who helped with my fitting was nothing short of lovely. She was a fat woman with curly ginger hair and a great smile, and I immediately felt at ease knowing that she wouldn't judge me. I told her what I was looking for — full skirt, off the shoulder or strapless, sweetheart neckline — and she helped me select some suitable dresses from the racks of white satin. Before I knew it, it was time to try on the first dress.

My heart was racing. I stepped into the the poofy ring of fabric and she shimmied the dress up my legs, around my torso, and clamped me in at the back — the sample off the rack was a little large for me. She fluffed out the skirt, adjusted the off-shoulder organza, and let me have a look.

And I looked fucking amazing in it.

Maybe that's conceited to say. But it was a beautiful gown, stitched with delicate flowers, and I truly felt like a million bucks staring in the mirror.

Suddenly, it all felt real. I was wearing a bridal dress. I was going to be a bride. It was going to be my day, and everyone was going to look at me and how pretty I am in my showstopping gown. And no one who truly loves me would think the terrible things that my anxious mind unhelpfully supplies.

The employee drew back the curtain, and my BFF (as she always does when I show off a new outfit, bless her) shouted out, "OOOOOH!" My fiancé covered their mouth a little bit and smiled wide. They both told me I looked beautiful. And I did! They weren't lying!

We tried on a bunch more dresses and, in the words of my best friend, it felt like the Lizzie McGuire movie. My little supermodel moment. All the dresses were made to accommodate girls like me, and none of them made me feel like a lesser bride. The breathtaking layers of beads, lace, organza, crochet — every dress was befitting of a princess. I was big, fat goddamn princess. It was honestly a healing experience that made me feel like the Barbie movie protagonists I’d admired as a little girl.

In the end, though the first dress I'd tried on was a close second, a different gown captured my heart. It's an off-white greige colour that flatters my skintone, and the whole strapless bodice is covered in lace and beading. The skirt is full like a ballgown and glitters under the light. It's so extra, and it's so me. I'm going to wear a tiara and lean into my inner princess.

When I chose the dress, we all cheered and drank champagne, and then the store employee took my measurements. I didn't stress at all about what they were.

My wedding dress will be ready in August. It's a size 24. And I'm so beyond excited to wear it.

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