Photo credit: Lauren Hanussak
I’m a plus-size bride preparing for her Fall 2024 wedding, and “slimming down” is not on my to-do list. To begin to tell the story of why, I think I need to start by remembering my plus-size forebears, including my own mother (Maria) and grandmother (Esperanza), who felt immense pressure to lose weight before their weddings. In part, I know this is because of the limited size options brides have historically had when it came to the dress, but it was also deeper than that. I wish pre-wedding weight-loss was an old timey practice that I could hearken back to with an empathetic sigh and a twinge of gratitude that we’re no longer in those dark times of yore, but nay. This practice persists to this day.
For many women today and throughout wedding history, weight-loss has felt less like a choice and more like a mandatory part of the process of getting married. For most of my life I too saw the perpetual pursuit of weight-loss as an unquestioned part of life. More than that, I accepted that an especially punishing and rigorous form of dieting accompanied major life moments where a public appearance in front of lots of people (some of them with cameras that would capture you from every angle) was expected.
The cultural obsession with weight-loss made a huge impression on me at an early age. As a little girl, I watched the reruns of the famous "I Love Lucy" diet episode probably a dozen times. In this episode, Lucy’s husband challenges her to lose several pounds in five days, and the audience watches as her efforts escalate from celery-munching to finally spending an entire day in a sweat box. I remember knowing that these were the lengths that women would go to — and that I would someday be expected to go to — in order to not be fat.
And that’s the thing, right? This “mandatory” pre-wedding weight-loss is part of a bigger lesson: that only the thinnest version of ourselves deserves love, big parties, and to live forever on our walls, mantles and social media feeds through photographs and videos.
Photo credit: Lauren Hanussak
I followed in Lucy’s — and my mother’s and grandmother’s — footsteps for most of my life. I tried to change my body, went on every diet, hated how I looked, monitored every bite of food, and basically just ended up with an eating disorder. Thanks to a number of people and experiences, I learned about fat positivity, a philosophy and a political stance that says there’s nothing wrong with being in a larger body, and in fact, that there are wonderful and special things about being fat that deserve to be named and celebrated. After adopting fat positivity, I became anti-diet, which is another philosophy that focuses on understanding that dieting is largely harmful to people’s health and self-esteem and is ineffective. I’ve spent years reading books, processing how much fatphobia has harmed me and the people I love, and deprogramming our culture’s overwhelming obsession with thinness. I can tell you now that all those years of tending to my chub rub and taking photos of my back fat have really paid off.
Today I no longer believe that I should be expected to try to lose weight just because I’m fat, and I know that science doesn’t back weight-loss either. I’ve been anti-diet and fat-positive for almost 13 years. My husband-to-be is fat positive, too. Both of our families know all about where we stand on the matter of body size. I love that I get to be a plus-size bride and that my engagement photos and wedding photos will document me as I actually exist — double chin and all.
Photo credit: Lauren Hanussak
One of the things I’ve loved most about being an anti-diet bride is that not trying to lose weight has created a runway to a much less stressful wedding. That also means that there’s more room for joy and fun!
When I started making plans, my first thoughts went to what I wanted my wedding to look like (not what I wanted my body to look like): something playful with pumpkins and s’morestinis, hopefully in an “elevated” barn somewhere in the Midwest (from where my fiancee hails) surrounded by leaves in brilliant crimson and orange hues (Hi, I’m a Californian, and I exoticize seasons.). There have been mood boards, meetings with the wedding planner, and tours of venues. I’m planning every outfit for every nuptial moment with plans to be the same size I am right now. We’re talking engagement photos, the ceremony, the reception, the City Hall paperwork day, and all the transition moments in between when I plan to emerge effortlessly like a fluffy Jennifer Lopez in yet another look that’s somehow better than the last.
I don’t think there’s ever been a better time in U.S. history to be a plus-size bride than right now. Though the fashion industry still hasn’t caught up to the fact that all larger bodies (not just those in the 1X-3X category) deserve options, the formal- and bridal-wear offerings in plus have proliferated massively in the last two to three years, with several fashion brands offering substantial bridal suites. I want to revel in that reality fully.
Marriage is about a lot of things, but it’s about publicly declaring that you want to share a future with someone. If marriage is about investing in the future, I want my wedding plans to reflect my hope for a world where everyone — no matter their size — feels like they can have fun, amazing, and beautiful moments in their body.
Virgie is documenting the 52-week leadup to her 2024 wedding - countdown style — through a digital memoir/podcast project called Fat Girl Gets Married. Premium subscribers are invited to this intimate experience through videos, photos, audio, stories and a special launch event in San Francisco this November. Click HERE for the first instalment of FGGM. For 20% off a premium subscription go to: https://virgietovar.substack.com/thighsociety. Offer expires November 1, 2023.