On one of the happiest, most memorable days of your life, you want to feel your best – and if you’re struggling with body positivity, it’s likely this will be a challenge. This is why we spoke to an expert about how we can all learn to love ourselves and our bodies, just as we are.
In an ideal world, doughnuts would grow on trees, our celebrity crush would passionately reciprocate our affection – and, miraculously, know who we are, and we’d feel happy and confident with our bodies 100 per cent of the time, never second-guessing whether our bottoms looked too big or too small in a pair of jeans.
Alas, I’d hazard a guess that most women – and men – have had a body hang-up at one time or another, with a seed of self-doubt blossoming into full-blown insecurity.
While normal to have some reservations about your body on occasion, in the lead up to your wedding, stressing about how you’ll look in your wedding dress won’t do you any favours.
Thankfully, you don’t need to suffer through body image troubles, and there are things you can do to feel more comfortable in your own skin before your wedding day (and afterwards, too – why stop the body love once the day has passed?).
At Easy Weddings – and according to Audrey Hepburn, too, but we digress – we believe that happy women are the prettiest, and love when women are unapologetically themselves: snort-laughter, pimple scars, lockdown weight and all.
There’s nothing more attractive than the glow of someone happy within themselves, and we want to help you get there so you can enjoy your big day.
This is why we spoke to Julie Sweet, a clinical psychotherapist at Seaway Counselling and Psychotherapy, practising in Sydney’s eastern suburbs in Bondi Junction (learn more about her by visiting her website).
Here, Julie breaks down why we may have body hang-ups, and details how we can overcome these insecurities so we can feel happy and confident come wedding season.
“For brides to feel confident and comfortable in their wedding dress, they must feel confident and comfortable within themselves, which is underpinned by self-worth and self-acceptance,” says Sweet.
“That’s an inside job, so regardless of the big day or chosen dress, if we don’t feel we are deserving, that needs to be explored”.
So, what can we do about our body insecurities?
Julie stresses that we validate ourselves, steering clear of self-gaslighting, minimising our lived experiences, or giving our power away.
“Negative thinking can often be questioned when we identify what we are feeling and label it. Having another person to share our thoughts with, like a professional or trusted friend or close family member, can bring about fundamental behavioural change,” says Sweet.
Another way you can help yourself? Self-care – and it has nothing to do with buying a new piece for your wardrobe or watching Younger reruns in the bath.
“Stress can cause anxiety and overwhelm so self-care is critical. Often people think self-care is nothing more than running a bath or listening to a podcast (both of which are wonderful, however, self-care consists of more).”
Julie explains that self-care is less about pampering ourselves and more about setting limits and having boundaries. She also recommends asking for help when we need it.
“Additionally, it’s helpful to practise gratitude and mindfulness, as well as sleep hygiene, mental wellness, and physical health.”
Some other helpful coping strategies include:
- Reality testing. Countering that negative voice we often hear in our minds.
- Affirmations. Using liquid chalk to write something powerful on our bathroom mirror.
- Journalling. Externalising our feelings and emotions.
- Therapy. Engaging with a clinician to work introspectively, examining patterns of behaviour and body image.
- Group work. Group therapy that explores body image, eating disorders, and our relationship with food, for instance.
- Exercise. Weight training, yoga, meditation, swimming, and walking, for example.
Body positivity advice from real Easy Weddings brides.
We asked our Instagram community their best advice for brides who are struggling with body positivity, and their answers range from practical to emotionally supportive. Here’s what they said:
- Buy clothes that fit you and make you feel confident, don’t try to force-fit into small sizes.
- You are beautiful as you are and your future husband/wife is so excited to see you in the outfit you picked .
- Remember, your body is part of you and your story and everybody is so, so beautiful!
- Following diverse body types on Insta, not just skinny influencers.
- Love the features you love. E.g. if you like your eyes, love your eyes.
- Unfollow people on socials that highly edit their images.
- Get a dress that suits your body shape and make sure you feel comfortable and confident.
- Think about all the amazing things your body does – it’s working hard every day to keep you alive.
- Go for a walk when you can – it’s not strenuous, but it makes you feel fantastic once you’re done!
- Start with body neutrality (if you’re not sure what this entails, check out this article for a rundown on what body neutrality is).
For more advice from real brides, our article on wellness, beauty, and skincare is a real kicker. It includes lots of helpful suggestions from brides on topics ranging from how to get healthier hair to skincare tips and tricks you need to know.
When to seek professional help.
If you’re struggling with body image to the point it is distressing you and interfering with aspects of your life, it might be time to consider talking to a professional about how you feel.
“When our mental health is compromised or we feel a lack of confidence or low self-esteem, therapeutic intervention can be grounding and serve to increase wellbeing,” says Sweet.
“Whenever we feel a prolonged period of unrest, unease, restlessness, anxiety, depression, hyper-vigilance or emotional dysregulation, these are usually indicators that we may need support outside ourselves.”
Where to get help:
- Butterfly Foundation’s National Helpline. This service provides information, counselling, and treatment referral for people with body image-related issues. Call 1800 33 4673, email, or use their online chat function.
- Your local GP. Your doctor can write you a referral to see a licensed professional as part of a mental health care plan.
While we understand your wedding day is extremely important to you and the desire to look your best in your dress is likely playing on your mind, try to keep things in perspective – you are cherished, healthy, and happily in love.
“Sometimes brides can focus more on the wedding itself rather than the marriage,” says Julie.
“Brides can benefit from coming back to self (looking within themselves) and drawing upon the person they’re choosing to marry, as opposed to the wedding day.
“Whilst the day is significant, cultivating a secure, functioning relationship is what truly matters.”
And above all, please remember to be patient and kind with yourself. You’re doing your best, and that’s all any of us can ask for.