7.13.2011

the wedding diaries: on handling unwanted advice.

You know what I've loved most about planning a wedding? How much other people care. Even people that you haven't seen in years, those you've just met or friends you wouldn't claim to be especially close with...they're endlessly supportive and interested in your day. They want to know everything...the date, the location, your dress, your color scheme and so forth. I find it enchanting. 

It's so sweet that others care about one day in my life.

Also on my list of things I love? Advice. Smart ways to save a dollar here...a tip on where to hunt for bargains. Words of wisdom on how to keep your guest list trim. Passing along a favorite website for tracking details. The best place to buy your cake. Who knows how to do weddings better than former brides, bridesmaids and mothers of the bride? No one.  I've found their advice endlessly encouraging and inspiring.

But, I have to get this off my chest, in this community of people who always understand my heart. There is one type of advice that I'm simply through with: weight and body advice.

For as long as I've dreamed about my wedding day...I've also cried about my weight. About not feeling beautiful enough. Even after dropping fifty pounds and five dress sizes, there's a residual feeling of not quite loving my body. I've cried after trying on dresses, because I didn't feel beautiful...or because the size 10 sample dresses didn't zip. And these comments certainly aren't helping the situation. Although I've only been engaged for a month, it would take two hands to count the number of times people have made a passing comment about losing weight for the wedding, what I should not eat and fitting in a dress. After every comment...I just feel defeated. I've worked so hard on my body for the last three years, but when I hear these words...I feel like it wasn't enough. Like I'm not enough. Like I won't be beautiful enough.

In the time he was still stateside, Gabe had already grown tired of it, too. While I get weepy over them...he gets angry. Angry that someone would think it appropriate to comment on a bride-to-be's body. Or what she's eating. Heaven knows...every bride has enough stress and pressure inside her own mind over her body, Gabe says, and how she'll look that day...she certainly doesn't need it hurled at her from the outside, too. And he's right.

My usual approach would be grin-and-bear it...but I simply cannot anymore. In the minds of those saying these things, I'm sure they think they're being helpful. But in reality, for a girl who continuously battles with weight and self worth? It's hurtful.

So, my always-ready-with-great-advice sisters of the blogosphere....how does one tactfully respond to these words...without being pegged a bridezilla? 

33 comments:

  1. I'm with Gabe. It made me so angry to see a few people's comments on FB regarding what you shouldn't eat if you wanted to fit into your wedding dress. You may have picked up on my outrage in my replies to them! ;~)

    This is a tough question to answer, because I know how sweet and lovely you are, and I know you don't want to come across as bitchy... but I think I'd say "This sort of advice really does NOT help me. It makes me feel anxious and upset. I know you don't want me to feel that way about my wedding, and about being a bride, so please don't say anything like that to me again."

    Either that or give 'em the finger!
    xo

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  2. A few things:

    Don't worry about being called a bridezilla! If someone is a big enough jerk to comment on your weight, does it really matter if they think you're a bridezilla? People who willingly offer up such advice are the ones who ALWAY think their opinions should be known, no matter the occasion. (Believe me, as someone who's currently pregnant, I know. They always have a comment.) And, typically, those people are pretty unhappy with themselves.

    Pay no mind to dress sizes. Seriously. I'm a small person (usually a 0 or a 2) and, when I was wedding dress shopping, I tried on everything from a 0 to an 8 that fit. They aren't the least bit accurate or true to size.

    You are a gorgeous person! Your readers see it, Gabe sees it and I'm totally certain that one day soon you'll see it. Then you'll tell those advice-givers where to stick it! :)

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  3. I'd invite them to China buffet and eat crab ragoons and that deep fried sugar bread stuff right in front of them. :)

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  4. I know this may not cover everything you asked for, but here's my advice:

    1) I want to recommend the community over at apracticalwedding.com for you; they were a lifesaver for me about all sorts of things.

    2) Keep this quote in the back in your head over the next year. "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who don't mind don't matter and the people who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss.

    3) Don't stress about every dress not being THE dress; when you find THE dress, you'll feel so beautiful that the dresses you've looked at and rejected and the comments you've heard won't be in your rear view mirror. Chances are, today's naysayers will be the first to tell you how goregous you are on your wedding day.

    4) Look at online reviews of bridal salons to see if you can find a salesclerk in the store who is supportive and fun to be around during a consultation instead of someone who treats it as just a job.

    5) A lot of brides can't fit into sample sizes. That's not the dress you'll be stuck with on the day in question... the place you select your dress from will stop at nothing to make sure you look great on your wedding day.

    6) I've gone on long enough, so I'll say that I concur with Erin.

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  5. You are absolutely gorgeous, Bethany. Inside and out.

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  6. Hun, Eat a cupcake, heck, eat 3! It's your body, your weight loss journey, your day. I of course would probably not handle this type of advice very tactfully so maybe my "advice" is not the best to listen to. But really just speak from your heart. You are amazingly good with words and the Lord has your back. You are just as beautiful as you were three years ago and three years from now you will be just as beautiful. So...screw them and their unkind hurtful words. P.S. If I ever say anything that makes you feel like this...please, please, please feel free to be brutaly honesty and bitchy with me! Love you!

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  7. I'm not sure what I'd say, but probably something to the effect of, "I'm sure there is a dress out there that is made just for me that I won't have to 'fit into.' My fiance loves me for who I am, and I don't need to change a thing just to make a dress work."

    After all, there are SO MANY dresses in all different shapes and sizes and one will be just perfect for you, regardless of whether you lose 10 pounds or not. People sometimes just have foot in mouth disease and don't know when their advice is not wanted!

    You'll be beautiful, regardless, and the only person whose opinion will matter that day is the man standing at the end of the aisle :-) I had to tell this to myself the other day when I had a meltdown about my fiance wanting me to wear my hair "natural"

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  8. The nerve that some people have! 0r, simply, we as humans often speak before we think. *sigh*

    I'm so sorry that you are having to deal with unthoughtful comments! You are SO beautiful! I only know you over the blogging world but you totally inspire me. You are beautiful and you are taking good care of yourself.
    To someone who has lost about 30 pounds of extra weight since I was a young teen, but is a size 8, it is nice to see other beautiful women that are closer to the same "size" as me. But, all in all, dress size isn't what it should be about. I believe there is a beautiful dress just waiting for you to step into it.

    And, I second what has already been said...I hope you find a dres that YOU love and the only real opinion that matters beside your own is Gabe's. He obviously adores you at just the size you are!

    Blessings,
    Sarah

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  9. This makes me angry, too, and I just read your blog! As they are giving you this advice on how to lose weight/what not to eat ask, "Do you think I need to lose weight? This was not on my wedding to-do list." Then chuckle. It will make them uncomfortable and speechless.

    Read your post about that J Crew dress you found for Paris. You will find a wedding dress that makes you feel even more beautiful than that ruffle dress and you wrote how much you loved that dress. :)

    I would love to read more about your trip to Paris!! :)

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  10. I have to go with Gabe as well. I know I haven't met you (yet perhaps in Phila}. However, based on the pictures of you I have seen, you are a very attractive and sexy woman. Add to that your writing shows you to be witty, loving and compassionate. Whenever you make comments like this post one thought goes through my head.

    I would like to meet the person who made you feel so bad about yourself and beat the piss out of them.

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  11. This isn't going to be very helpful, but you can tell those people to shove it. They have no right, and are clearly delusional about what "helpful" means. Idiots.
    YOU are one of the most beautiful people, ever. Eat a cupcake, throw one at them, then eat another cupcake. Then have another one for me.
    P.S. Tell me where these people live and I will either a. give them a stern talking-to OR b. punch them in the face.

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  12. I think so many women (getting married or not) can relate. I am the first person to let someone say something like that to me without any sort of response back but truth be told, comments like that are rude, unnecessary & hurtful and rightfully deserve a response clear enough that they learn a lesson to not say again. I'd like to think there is a tactful way to do it, something like "Not sure if you know, but I have really come a long way & am so proud of where I am at, I wish you would accept me for me, just as I do you, this is stressful enough as it is and you along with everyone else should focus on talking to me about other things besides how Im going to lose weight" or, theres always "Well aren't we rude today?" haha. Regardless, you are going to look stunning and from the sounds of it, Gabe will be nothing short of beside himself over you walking towards him that day.

    Take care!!!
    Jackie in NC
    http://sweet-as-tea.blogspot.com/

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  13. Oh my goodness, let me just say that you are *gorgeous*. I, for one, can't wait to see pictures of your wedding, as I'm sure you'll look absolutely stunning. And good for Gabe for being the type of man he is, and "gets" it.

    As for how to handle it, looks like you've got some good advice here. Better than what I could offer up, considering I would probably just freak out.

    xo

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  14. Wow. That's terrible Bethany! I'm a 10 (usually) but sometimes a 12 and even on a rare occasion an 8. Don't let sizes get you down! You're BEAUTIFUL as I think all of us in blogland say when we see photos of you on your blog!

    First of all, I don't think there's any easy way to deal with it. I'm dealing with some wedding issues from people but mostly it's because they're being overbearing about our choices. For example, we're getting married outside and have been told roughly 15xs to do it in a church. We'll do it OUR way but I can't be rude to people when they're giving advice.

    BUT.... It's not fair for you to have to deal with stress from outside sources. This is about you and about Gabe. That's all. It's great to have family and friends celebrate that union but first and foremost the day is about getting married to the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. In the end, dresses, size, other people just aren't the key points here.

    There's no easy way to tell people that their advice isn't appreciated regardless of topic but on dress size/exercise/workout.... that's unacceptable. It's one thing for you to want to be in the best shape possible because it builds confidence and you want to be the healthiest you on your day but that's not about size at all! First off girl, you have some fine curves. Show that off!

    If it is stressing you out this much you may have to be a little rude back. This is so much easier said than done. In fact, I've only done it once ever. Fact is, they're being rude and invasive first and if the only way to defend yourself is to say "I like the way I look and that advice isn't what we're looking for while planning our wedding" then that's just what you have to say.

    Plus I love Tori's comment about 'those who matter don't mind'. That is so true. You're an amazing woman and if you can't bring yourself to tell people that they need to back off (I can't do it either) then maybe try to steer clear of them for a period of time.

    I wish there was an easy solution to this. Let me know if you find one!

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  15. It doesn't matter that you're getting married and everyone feels they can give advice, but where I'm from, it is incredibly rude to mention the bride's weight at all unless she brings it up first. I can't believe people would say something to you! (Please excuse my foul language) Fuck being tactful with them - tell them to piss off!

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  16. Hi Bethany, it's Heather (from ILC girls gone wild). Sometimes I check your blog to see what you're up to and had to comment on this one. First of all, congratulations! On getting engaged, not the associated rude comments.

    Secondly, wow! That kind of thoughtless advice is usually reserved for pregnancy. (warning: people will try to touch your stomach when you're pregnant without asking. Not to jump the gun, but I think every woman should be forewarned.) When people try to give me unwanted pregnancy advice, sometimes I cover my ears and say "NANANANANA!!" and smile like I'm just kidding, but really I mean it.

    With all the hectic last-minute wedding planning, I gained five pounds the month before I was married... and it all turned out great anyway.

    So here's my unsolicited wedding tip to love or leave:
    I ordered my wedding dress from J Crew. It was so flowy I actually got a size down, which was lovely. We also got J Crew bridesmaids dresses, and were able to get new ones much cheaper on Ebay because we picked one of J Crew's classic dresses style/color.

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  17. I got nothing - but I've loved reading everyone else's advice.

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  18. i probably wouldn't have the nerve to say anything (i'm just kind of timid like that) but in my mind i'd be all "SHUT UP!"

    so, you know... try that.

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  19. Oh my gosh, I hated people saying to me, "Um ... do you think you should be eating that?" Whenever I picked up something with carbs or the smallest amount of fat in it. Like I hadn't already gone through a massive internal argument with myself just to decide to eat it!

    I say throw it back at them, with a joke. "Are you saying I'm fat?" Laugh a bit ... then eat the cake/pie/pizza and enjoy it!

    Life is far to short to be worrying about how much you may or may not weigh on your wedding day. You will look beautiful no matter what, because you will be marrying the man of your dreams and the joy in that alone is enough to make anyone look simply radiant!

    x Jasmine

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  20. Who the hell are you around that is telling you these things? Seriously, I'm about to come out there and have a good come-to-Jesus with them.

    If they are reading this now-- KNOCK IT OFF. Beth will look amazing on her wedding day no matter what that scales says.

    As far as being called a bridezilla, I wouldn't sweat it. There is always going to be someone who doesn't like some detail about your wedding. You can't stress over these things because it's YOUR wedding, not THEIRs.

    ..just don't flip over a table or anything like that. That might be borderline bridezilla ;)

    LB

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  22. I don't believe that I have ever commented here depsite the fact that I read your blog regularly and find you absolutely lovely (Okay to be honest, in my head, we're totally BFFs) but I just had to say something on this one...I'm not engaged and have never been married but I've battled weight and self esteem issues for as long as I can remember. My advice would to be to simply smile sweetly and respond with something along the lines of "I'm so glad Gabe loves me just the way I am and that I don't have to worry about silly things like dieting or obsessing over every calorie. I can just enjoy the adventure of being engaged!" Because that's the reality of it... I understand that everyone wants to look their best when they know they're going to be the center of attention but Gabe proposed to you, just as you are for who you are and who he wants to become with you. He doesn't have some secret agenda that involves changing your waist line or depriving you of carbs (for the record, you should run from any man who wants to deprive you of something as wonderful as carbs, but that's beside the point). I'm sure people have good intentions and just say those things because they were probably said to them but it's ridiculous. Don't waste a moment of this time worrying about petty things like someone else's opinion on that last bite you took. These are moments that you'll never have again so spend them wisely...dismiss the unwanted advice - don't absorb it - and carry on planning your happily ever after.

    Best wishes to you, pretty girl!

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  23. oh man, people never know when to keep their big traps shut, do they??? i certainly don't think anyone will peg you as bridezilla - any weight statements are just rude, regardless if you are a bride, a pregnant woman, or just any woman! don't really have any advice as to what you should say, but the important part is to not let it bother you.

    my philosophy is that EVERY woman looks absolutely beautiful on her wedding day, especially when she's wearing a smile.

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  24. I like what Christy said above. People just kill me, the things they say - what ever happened to manners? It's worse when you're pregnant, people feel like they can ask you anything and give you all kinds of unsolicited advice.

    Hang in there, you are lovely, enjoy this wonderful time!

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  25. I definitely think you can politely tell them to butt out because they have no right to dictate what you eat. Bride to be's have enough to worry about without getting random comments on weight.

    I don't think people would see you as a bridezilla as I don't think it's anyone's place to make you feel like that at all.

    Seriously you will be absolutely beautiful and you should feel that way :) x

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  26. People can be so thoughtless with their comments...I think you are one gorgeous girl inside AND out! You are going to be stunning on your wedding day regardless of what you put in your mouth before hand as well! And P.S. thank you for the sweet comment and I totally have that paper tape you used on this post for real! Martha Stewart from Joann's! How did you get it on your computer screen?

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  27. My initial reaction would be to say "Wow, you're kind of a bitch" to those people. But that's not super productive, so I guess my PC answer would be similar to Erin's. "This sort of advice is hurtful to me. I makes me anxious about what should be a very happy moment in my life. I appreciate your concern."

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  28. First of all, those people are crazy, and you are lovely.

    I found that when I got unwanted wedding advice of any kind, I smiled and changed the subject. Sometimes I would say, "As long as we end up married at the end of the day, I'm good."

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  29. First of all Bethany, you are beautiful. And I'm positive that you will look absolutely gorgeous on your and Gabe's wedding day.

    As for how to respond, tell them that when you ask for advice, that is not what you mean. And if that is the only suggestion they have to give you, perhaps you don't need their thoughts. There is no specific way anybody is supposed to feel that they have to look, especially on a day that they've spent their lives dreaming about. Don't worry about what other people think (I know...that sounds cliche, and is also very hard to do) and enjoy this whole "getting-ready" part of the relationship!
    <3 Kiersten

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  30. I know that this is a bit late ! But Bethany you are beautiful as you are ! Damn I look at your pictures and think geez she is such a cutie lol I hope to god you don't think I am coming all lessie hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha !

    Stand proud ... you are gorgeous hun ! x

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  31. oh, b. i found you at such a perfect time. i'm going through now what you went through last year. (hence me always bringing up your old wedding-related posts!)
    not necessarily in terms of the subjects of the unwanted advice, but certainly advice that is unwanted. and confusing. and hurtful. and sometimes just plain mean.

    i'd love to hear how you got through it - because i'm sure it doesn't end with the wedding.

    i am learning A LOT thru this process - about who i am as a woman, and the kind of friend/daughter/mother i want to be.

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  32. am learning A LOT thru this process - about who i am as a woman, and the kind of friend/daughter/mother i want to be.

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