Isn’t the whole point of a wedding to celebrate your love for your partner and your new life together? How does fitting into a dress at all costs fit into this equation? In a recent New York Times article, brides-to-be are going to unhealthy measures to lose weight fast before the big day. From nasogastric tubes to the “Master Cleanse” to weight loss hormone injections, these extreme forms of restriction are all potential eating disorder triggers – which I’ve sadly seen develop in my own clients. Is damaging your body, hurting your self-esteem, and risking your health really worth it to fit into a dress? And what does it say about the doctors who help brides engage in such unhealthy behaviors?

Of course you want to look your best on your wedding day, but keep in mind you are marrying a partner who already loves and accepts you, and celebrating with family and friends who also love you for who you are (and if they don’t – they should be removed from the guest list ASAP). If pre-wedding jitters are getting the best of you, seek a therapist or close friend to share your fears and anxieties. Don’t make the focus of your wedding your weight, but rather, celebrating the love you feel for your partner and the life you plan to share together.

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5 Responses to Is fitting into a wedding dress worth starving yourself?

  1. Excellent points, Dr. Orma! The internal values, feelings and dreams of the bride are far more important to focus on than the image she projects in her wedding gown. Celebrating her love for the groom and dreams for their future is a far better use of her energy and focus.
    Thank you for bringing this important subject to light.

  2. Jennifer Rapkin, Ph.D. says:

    To answer your question: Maybe. And, do you really think that restricting eating for a limited time before your wedding is an eating disorder “trigger” in those not predisposed to develop an eating disorder? I do understand that eating disorders can develop at any age. However, a women is able to make choices about food and “celebrate her love for her partner” before her wedding. I don’t know that one obviates the ability to do the other. It’s vaguely insulting to suggest otherwise.

    • Dr. Steve Orma says:

      Jennifer, I am stunned by your response considering you are a mental health professional. I wonder how you justify “maybe” supporting a woman to risk her health to fit into a dress. I said in the article that these “diets” (which are just forms of starvation) are POTENTIAL triggers for an ED, which they certainly are. Restricting in and of itself won’t necessarily lead to an ED–other factors have to be present, but I have seen clients who started with a diet of some sort, and that started the ball rolling toward an ED. Snorting cocaine or shooting up heroin won’t necessarily lead to a drug addiction, but that doesn’t mean this is healthy, self-valuing behavior. I also never said a women couldn’t “make choices about food.” The point of my response was to point out that the women in this article ARE making unhealthy choices with regards to food. That is a fact. How is it insulting to point this out and advocate for making healthier choices?

      • Anonymous says:

        i agree with you Dr Orma. Its another thing wanting to be fit and healthy which is a life time commitment of sticking to a healthy regime and another to starve yourself or use extreme measures to lose weight.

        • Anonymous says:

          I totally agree with everything that you have suggested Dr. Orna. As mental health professionals, we have an obligation to assist our clients in practing healthy behaviors and in learning the value of moderation and balance in their lives.

          Jennifer, it is obsurde to suggest that a client who starves themself is “celebrateing” her love for her future partner. In my opinion, she is demonstrating a lack of love and acceptance of herself. The reality is, most wedding dresses are purchased a size or so to large so that it can be custom fit to the bride’s body. Wouldn’t a remider of this reality be more therapeutic to our clients than suggesting extreme dieting?

          By the way, The Keys Study of Starvation, is a wonderful example of how food restriction can lead to lead to eating disordered behaviors in individuals who previously did not show symptoms of eating disordered behavior.

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