Updated: May 4
Something that pops up a lot for me both as a yoga teacher and a wedding planner is body positivity, or a lack thereof. Especially for brides, grooms, and those family and friends who will be in the spotlight on the wedding day, the pressure to look perfect in every picture causes overwhelming anxiety for everyone. I’m not going to pretend that all your body image issues can be resolved by one blog post – or even years of therapy – but there are some things you can do to reduce the pressure and help you come to terms with this simple truth: you can get married with the body you have.
1. Choose the right people to go dress/suit shopping and to fittings with you.
Don’t invite people who you know are very self-critical, or always into a new diet, or who straight up stress you out. Have friends there that you know see you as beautiful the way you are. Everyone’s best friend thinks they are beautiful. Heck, I think all my friends are beautiful! I love their damn faces so much. It’s also okay to flout tradition and invite your partner along – it seems bizarre not to have the person who thinks you are perfect in every way there!
2. Choose clothing for you that makes you feel good about yourself.
Yasmine, a wedding dress designer and owner of the body positive (“before body positive was a thing,” she reminds me) Boutique Lustreexplains that everything looks better when it’s customized to your body. Buying a dress off the rack and spending up to $500 on tailoring is one option, but Lustre’s options start at $800 and tailoring is included. You choose from styles and fabrics in store, and they will customize the dress to your body and taste. In fact, because Yasmine is such a firm believer that women shouldn’t have to modify their bodies for clothing, she offers free tailoring on every item in her store.
When it comes to bridesmaids’ dresses, there are so many avenues to explore – choosing a colour, a colour palette, or a mood, rather than a single one-fits-all (it never does!) dress is definitely easier on your wedding party. No matter who is getting dressed, something custom and well-tailored always looks amazing, and confidence is the best look for any outfit.
3. Remember why you are getting married.
I always ask my clients what is most important to them about their day, even before they hire me. It’s part of how I find out if we’re a good fit for each other, and also helps me personalize their engagement journey. Usually, my clients care most about their guests having a great time and making amazing memories. If your budget doesn’t include a wedding coach and planner (or if you’re not sure you need one), Bride Disrupted has a really good free worksheet to help you figure out what best represents you as a couple and what really matters for you on your day.
And, engaged or not, if you’re here, the rest of this self-love wisdom is meant for you, too:
4. Take rest.
Recently, I went to see an acupuncturist and asked for some help dealing with hip pain (courtesy of 15+ years working on my feet on events, go figure). She suggested that I lose weight, and I replied that I’m trying to love the skin I’m in. She shook her head, told me I was “poofy”, and that I should learn to love the feeling of hunger. Even as I type that, I’m annoyed. I had a good cry when I got home, and decided not to go back to that acupuncturist. But it wasn’t enough. That person really picked out one of my pain points, and I wasn’t going to get over it quickly. Instead, I’m getting over it slowly. Taking a little more time each day to dive inward, pulling out my gratitude journal to take stock of what’s going right, and listing my good qualities to myself. I love Jameela Jamil’s take on it – @i_weigh means that my value as a person has nothing to do with the number on the scale, or my body fat percentage, or whatever other metrics I’m sure exist to make me feel inadequate.
It’s important to take time for yourself, so whatever your self-care ritual is, make a regular date with yourself to dive into it, and make sure you do something for yourself every single day. Post-acupuncturist, I’ve been having long phone calls with close friends, an uplifting tea of rose petals, hibiscus, and raspberry leaf, a daily yoga practice, and chocolate. Every day. And I booked fun things for myself in the week ahead: a tarot reading, a massage, and brunch with someone who loves me.
5. Remember that comparison is the thief of joy.
I could feel great about myself, but when I make the mistake of comparing myself to some other yoga teacher or wedding planner, it sucks all the joy out of me. I always refer to an observation made by Kristen Bell on episode two of the Armchair Expert podcast. I listened to it when it aired two years ago, and then repeatedly afterward; I have even played this section in yoga classes. It happens at 46:03-47:50, when the host, Dax Shepard, asks his wife, “How is that, over the years, you have… gotten more comfortable being exactly who you are?” And she replies, “It’s ease of life. I’m looking for the easiest lane. I’m not here to suffer…If I spend my time after hanging out with… Tina [Fey] and Amy [Poehler]… talking to myself about how I’m not as funny as they are and I never will be… it’s misery. And I don’t want that… I don’t want a comparison hangover… It’s useless, and it’s a waste of fucking time.”
6. Be a friend to yourself.
There’s an episode of The Mindy Project, guest-starring Laverne Cox as Tamra’s cousin Sheena, where she asks Mindy, who is pregnant and being particularly self-critical, “Now, if the person in the mirror was your best friend, would you be as mean to her as you’re being to yourself?” and then quips, “Well, I got news for you. You are talking to your best friend.” (Season 3, episode 20). That episode aired back in March 2015, which means that I decided five years ago to start being kind to myself. I am so proud of that, and though it’s still an uphill battle, it does get easier. Like I said way back at the beginning of this blog – your best friend thinks you are beautiful and perfect just as you are.
I’ll let that be the last piece of advice I give you. Pema Chödron puts it best (doesn’t she always?): “Be kinder to yourself. And then let your kindness flood the world.”