I Almost Let My Weight Ruin My Wedding Day - Here’s How I Got Over It
Fearne says: "As someone that has dealt with eating disorders in my twenties I know only too well how hard it can be to reach for confidence when it comes to all things physical. Bulimia stole the limelight for me in my twenties and left me with shame in my thirties. I'm continuously looking for positive role models, advertising, conversation and inspiration when it comes to body confidence. Finding peace with your own flesh is freeing. I have days where I feel connected to my body but not ruled by it. I can recognise its strength, resilience and at times sheer magic. I can give it thanks for growing my babies, running in the park and breathing air in to my lungs. I know only too well how easy it is to slip in to the narrative of having the wrong-shaped, too-broad shoulders, postpartum belly that will never reveal abs again, but I have to remember where my focus should lie; on the bits of me I know I love. My hands, that can draw and type and grab someone I love. My eyes that can see and distinguish and bring colour into my world. My boobs that let me feed my babies after they were born and now droop a little more for doing so. I have told myself to stop looking at my reflection in shop windows with focus only steady on the loathsome bits. The bits I believe have troubled me for years. Why spend your life looking at the colour blue when it's really green you love? Why obsess about bananas when its strawberries you adore? I've changed focus and am learning to cherish the body parts that make me feel free."
Words by Emmie Harrison-West, 27, from London
Stepping into my champagne-coloured wedding dress for the first time, I held my breath.
I'd imagined this moment since I was a girl - laying my eyes on the gown I would wear to say my vows in. Now it was here, resplendent in all its ribbon-covered, sequinned glory.
It didn't fit.
'But... it's my size,' I whispered, my emotion catching in my throat as the zip on the back of the size 14 dress stopped firmly at my waist. I posed for a picture and forced a smile as my mum pulled the backs together to make it look like it fit.
That night, though, I cried myself to sleep. I'd spent so long looking for a dress that ticked all of my boxes (non-white, non-strapless like one that didn't leave my looking like my grandma's frilly tea-cosy). And now, instead of looking forward to marrying my fiancé Jethro, I was utterly consumed by my weight.
I'd bought it from a bridal boutique online - it had a big discount, and I was on a budget. I'd seen celebrities wear the same brand, so I trusted the quality. Still, the zip that was supposed to fasten at the nape of my neck, wouldn't budge past my thighs.
It's safe to say I'd never had a completely healthy relationship with my body (find me a woman who does); for as long as I can remember, I've always been bigger than my siblings and friends.
Throughout school I was always the fattest girl in the group, wrestling with my tight jumper across my chest and standing at the back of school photos, pulling down my skirt to cover my thighs.
At the same time, everywhere I looked, I was bombarded with the message that to be a successful woman, you needed to be small. To be likeable, attractive, talented or hard-working, you needed to be slim.
Until I met Jethro in 2014, I was on antidepressants, couldn't bear to look at myself in the mirror and swiftly untagged photos of myself online.
Jethro helped me feel worthy of my body for the first time in my life - he appreciated me for me. I felt worshipped.
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And yet, on the day I first tried on my wedding dress, all of that progress and self-acceptance came crashing down into the folds of fabric around me.
'You're going to have to starve,' friends and family joked - and, honestly, I laughed with them. Thinking it was the only way that my size 14, 13 stone body and 34DD boobs were going to fit into this extremely beautiful, tiny, dress.
While my fiancé got busy mapping out table plans for our 100 guests, poring over menus, overseeing invitation design, organising photographers and flower arrangements - I was scrutinising my body.
I forced myself to run, sweat in the gym for longer than felt comfortable and ate smaller portions. I took pictures of myself in underwear most mornings and felt my heart sink when I didn't look any different.
That was until I tried my dress on for the second time, mere months before the big day - and it still didn't fit. The zip went up a few more inches, but it was clearly never going to fit. Even if I chopped off a limb.
Then it hit me. I was an intelligent, full-bodied, big-breasted woman who was loved and cherished. I had friends traveling from Madagascar, Japan and Australia to come and see me married. It wasn't my fault that this dress was grossly small.
I took it to a clothes altering service and asked them to cut the back out, right the way down to my waist. I had a satin ribbon stitched in that formed a loose bow at the base of my back. The dress was unique, and it was perfect. For the first time in months, I was happy - I felt like me.
The big day finally came around and, as I walked up the aisle with my backrolls proudly on show, I felt beautiful for the first time in months.
Watching Jethro cry when he first saw me affirmed that I was worthy of love, that I always had been - even if society didn't deem my weight to be worthy.
This July, I'll be celebrating my first wedding anniversary. My wedding day was the best day of my life - but looking back, I was truly and utterly miserable planning it. I was ill with worry.
I let my skewed perception of my body taint the experience of planning my wedding, and it nearly ruined the most important day of my life. I'm so glad I didn't let it.
Happy Place Festival is a a month-long schedule full of passionate people promoting mental and physical wellbeing running until July 12th. Find out more at HappyPlaceFestival.com
Featured Image Credit: Forget Me Knot Images