What not to ask a plus-size bride, according to a plus-size bride
I have only been engaged for a few months, yet I’ve been asked at least four times if I am going to wear a suit for my wedding.
As an LGBTQ bride, I understand that my fiancée and I might have more options when it comes to what we’ll wear as we walk down the aisle. I have seen many queer women rocking pantsuits on their big day, and I am a strong advocate of wearing whatever makes you comfortable.
But my queerness has nothing to do with why people are asking if I am going to wear a suit. They’re asking me because I am a plus-size bride.
In order to make up for our waistlines and spilling curves, plus-size women are expected to be on point with our makeup, our hair, and our clothes—to be extra feminine—so that we can be considered desirable. After all, much of the stereotyping and misogyny women face stems from the idea that to be female is to be desirable, above all else—and what society deems desirable is feminine, thin women. Again, if you enjoy and prefer wearing makeup and dressing feminine, that is your choice and you should feel beautiful and confident. I myself enjoy a swipe of red lipstick and my favorite red dress. But consider how makeup-free women are seen differently depending on their size. When a thin woman throws her hair up in a bun and dons a plaid shirt and boots, she is cute and outdoorsy. A plus-size woman doing the same thing is perceived as a sloppy lumberjack, and that’s the idea I am criticizing.
Walking our society’s tightrope of gender expectations can be especially hard on plus-size LGBTQ women and non-binary people, and I’m learning how much it impacts the wedding industry’s treatment of me.
Whenever my fiancée and I walk into a boutique to shop for our big day together, the staff rushes over to my wife-to-be with floor-length dresses made of lace, silk, and tulle. My fiancée also happens to be thin.
When I mention that I’m also looking for something to wear, they take one look at my body shape and try to show me some suits. Even well-meaning friends and family who have seen my feminine style for years have asked me what kind of suit I’m wearing. When you’re searching for what people describe as the most magical item of clothing you’ll ever wear in your life, this assumption about your femininity (or lack thereof) can be disheartening.
Something else you shouldn’t assume about a plus-size bride? Don’t guess that she is on a diet for her big wedding day. We’ve seen it in romantic comedies: The bride is eating a strict diet of lettuce and celery sticks and constantly weighing herself in the weeks before her final dress fitting. This obsessive behavior can even spill over into how bridesmaids feel about their bodies as well. Women are already constantly pressured into improving their bodies, and that pressure only increases when they are about to walk down the aisle.
Just a few weeks after my engagement, a well-meaning family member took one look at the salad I was having for lunch and said, “Oh, you’re on a diet. Good for you.”
But when my fiancée got down on one knee, the first thing I thought was not that I needed to go on a diet. It still isn’t. I have struggled with my weight and body image for years, and my wedding day shouldn’t be the moment that ruins all the work I’ve done to love myself.
Ultimately, the best way to support a plus-size bride is to simply ask her what she is considering for her big day—whether it’s the attire she plans to wear while saying “I do” or any last-minute details she is thinking of. Then offer to help her get it all together. Go with her to some bridal stores while she tries things on or do some searching of your own based on her ideas and provide suggestions. Because even as the idea of body positivity becomes more well-known and plus-size fashionistas take the world by storm, wedding dresses still aren’t that accessible for different body types. The good news, though, is that there are more and more designers and retailers carrying plus-size wedding gowns—and not just your standard drab, polyester, plus-size dresses either.
Now that I’ve established that I will not be wearing a suit on my wedding day, nor will I be crash-dieting in hopes of fitting into a particular dress, I have spent time excitedly searching for different styles to try. While we are still far away from a fashion industry that is friendly to all forms, it is still liberating to see changes already taking place. In the meantime, if people would just stop asking me and other plus-size brides rude questions…