Getting engaged is an exciting time, but for many women, it cues an outpouring of questions and unsolicited feedback from friends and family members. The whole process is often the opposite of low key. For Julie Tamir, a branding and marketing strategy consultant who also teaches indoor cycling, her seamstress was another source of added stress.
"When I went in for my first fitting, she told me, 'You look amazing, but I want your husband to cry. If you lose 5 pounds, when you walk down the aisle, your husband will cry,'" Tamir tells SELF. "Then she started screaming over and over, 'Ex-er-cise! Ex-er-cise! Ex-er-cise!'"
At the time, Tamir was teaching four cycling classes a week at Equinox, taking personal training sessions herself twice a week, and following Kayla Itsines's Bikini Body Guide one to two days a week. "I work out a ton, and I care about being in shape and looking good and eating healthy," she says. She'd heard about the pressures you feel as a bride-to-be, but she didn't imagine her seamstress would be part of that.
It turns out her seamstress was just the tip of the body-obsessed iceberg.
Like most brides, Tamir was so excited to find her perfect dress and feel good on her wedding day. She hadn't expected that her seamstress appointments would make her question herself and how she looked.
She also didn't expect to become so caught up in others' comments. "When you teach fitness, there is a heightened expectation that you will look good [for your wedding]," she says. "I felt like every time I saw someone, they felt the need to tell me I looked good, and if they didn't, I was paranoid, like nobody noticed I was trying hard."
Or people would tell her, “You'll lose weight right before the wedding because of the nerves,” which made Tamir question how she looked. "Do you think I need to lose more? If you thought I looked good now, why would you say things like that?" she recalls thinking. "As a bride, you are super nervous, all eyes are on you, and because you are in this paranoid state, any comment could be taken in a certain way."
It didn't help that when she looked at bridal catalogs and blogs, she didn't see models who looked like her. "I've never been called skinny—my build is more athletic," she says. “What I saw wasn't very representative of women who aren't super tall and super skinny."
Weight loss talk seems to be everywhere when it comes to weddings.
In a 2014 Australian survey of 343 brides-to-be, more than half reported they wanted to lose weight before the big day. Most wanted to lose around 20 pounds, which is about the same amount reported in an earlier survey of 272 women in the U.S. by Cornell University researchers.
"A wedding is an important day and there is a lot of pressure on women—particularly from the media and from the bridal industry—to look a certain way for their weddings. If we only see thin brides in the media, then that can lead people to believe that in order to be a 'good bride' one must be a 'thin bride,'" Ivanka Prichard, Ph.D., author of the Australian study, tells SELF. “Research we have done also indicates that women feel it is important to look good on their special day because of the photos.”