“See, I’m on this new diet. Well, I don’t eat anything. And right before I feel I’m going to faint, I eat a cube of cheese. I’m one stomach flu away from my goal weight.”
Ah yes, that laughable line from “The Devil Wears Prada.” The first time I saw the movie (and I will admit, I’ve seen it approximately seven million times since then), I laughed. I laughed uncomfortably. I laughed uncomfortably because that diet sounded eerily familiar.
You see, as a teenager, I followed a similar diet that made me many things — hungry, irritable and bitchy among them — but it didn’t make me skinny. Sure, I was 110 pounds at 5’7, but I looked sick, I had a bloated stomach and I hardly slept.
I distinctly remember one bizarre Friday night in high school. I was at home with my two best friends, sitting in my living room complaining about some teenage drama or another. All three of us were starving, mean people, though we didn’t openly discuss our disordered eating until many years later. Somehow, all three of us ended up laying on the carpeted floor in a row, banging on our own and each others’ hip bones, proud of their protrusions. I think it was shortly after that that I wised up to my “thin-sanity” and started including actual food in my diet.
Fast forward some years later to the months leading up to my wedding day. I by no means had a “Big Day” — I got married at a Los Angeles courthouse wearing a $90 dress from Macy’s and flat shoes that I bought on eBay. For my husband and I, our wedding was perfect. Having spent a sizable chunk of my youth restricting my caloric intake, however, I fought dozens of personal, pre-wedding battles: my internal critic reminded me that my fat Greek lady arms would be forever immortalized in my wedding photos, while my internal fat Greek lady reprimanded me for forgetting how delicious food is and eventually helped me tell my internal critic to shove it.
I may have won the battle (fat Greek lady arms and all!), but I sympathize with women who will go to any length — and I mean any length — to reach their goal wedding day weight. On Thursday, The New York Times reported on a bride who had a feeding tube inserted into her nose that reached down through her esophagus to drip a liquid diet of 800 hundred calories per day into her stomach for 10 days. Other brides tried extreme cleanses, vitamin injections and crash diets, all with the goal of dropping pounds before tying the knot.
The Florida doctor who inserted the feeding tube, Dr. Oliver R. Di Pietro, told The Times, “At first I decided not to do it for people who just want to lose a few pounds … But then I thought, why should I say 5 or 10 pounds are not enough? People want to be perfect.”
I have to tell you, doc, your attitude is not OK. When did it become medically-acceptable to recommend 800 calorie diets because people want to “be perfect”? When did doctors — professionals who are ostensibly in our lives to support our well-being — become propagators of “thinspo” culture? These types of diets, along with reality TV shows like “Bridalplasty,” take a celeb-saturated, Photoshopped un-reality and make it attainable; admirable, even. And it’s not. It’s exhausting, it makes you feel bad and you’ll never look as good as a Vogue model, anyway.
Here’s what I learned from my small wedding: Your wedding day will be perfect if you’re marrying the right person. It will be perfect if you get red wine on your dress, or a bird poops on you at the beach or you can’t find your tiara. And it will be perfect whether you lose five pounds, gain ten or weigh exactly the same amount you did when your partner proposed. Getting married is about love — loving your future spouse, yes — but also loving yourself enough to eat, and not being so starving at the altar that you forget to say “I Do.”
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