If you choose to get married, the build-up to your wedding day should, in theory, be a time of busy excitement and happy anticipation. However, for many brides-to-be, the pre-wedding period is spent dealing with rebuffing other people’s unsolicited opinions about how they and their wedding days should look.
One of the most prevalent sources of pressure for many women is the assumption that they must want to lose weight before their ‘big day’. No matter that your friends, family and future spouse presumably already know what you look like; no matter that not everyone aspires to a super-slim body. The idea that preparing for marriage should necessitate ‘getting in shape’ is a pervasive one, and one that has led to the creation of an entire sub-industry.
There are wedding dress diet plans and wedding-themed workout gear. You can even, if you so desire, pay a doctor to hook you up to a feeding tube. Wedding weight loss is a lucrative business, and it’s one that largely exists to capitalise on women’s insecurities.
But Cassie Young isn’t interested in losing weight before her wedding – so when a personal trainer recently tried to body-shame her into hiring him, she responded in the best way possible.
Young, a US radio host and photographer, became engaged to her partner of a decade in early August. Like many women in 2017, she posted excitedly about her engagement on social media. Shortly after, she received a direct message on Twitter from a man she didn’t know, who claimed to be a personal trainer.
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“Congratulations on your engagement,” read the stranger’s message. “Hire me to get you in shape for your wedding. I charge $75 an hour and I’m worth every penny.”
Rather than telling the guy where he could stick his pitch, Young replied with remarkable grace and kindness. “I am in shape!” she messaged back. “Thank you so much for the offer, though.”
It was here that things took a bizarre, nasty turn, prompting Young to share screenshots of their exchange – with the man’s name edited out – on Facebook.
“I know you want to look your best on wedding day,” the trainer informed Young, proving that his grasp on grammar was as shaky as his understanding of common human decency.
“If you don’t hire me hire someone. Those pictures lasts centuries,” he continued (again, grammar). “Your children’s children’s children will still have those pictures. You want your best you.”
For the second time, Young responded to the trainer with acres more dignity, politeness and warmth than he deserved – explaining exactly why she felt comfortable with her body exactly as it was.
“I know it’s probably hard for you to understand this, but it’s taken me a long time to love my body,” she wrote.
“Health is one thing [...] But the idea of me being embarrassed by my wedding pictures because I might be ‘fat’ in them and people centuries from now will be ridiculing me?
“F**k that noise.”
She goes on to say that her weight has nothing to do with her value as a person or with how her intended feels about her, so thanks but no thanks.
You’d think that at this point, the trainer would realise that he was tangling with a woman whose insecurities he wouldn’t be able to profit from. But he didn’t.
“You can accept how you look but you can’t be happy with the way you look. You can’t lie to yourself,” he wrote.
“No one wants to accept the way they look in their wedding pictures, they want to be happy.”
He proceeded to make a rather convoluted reference to the old adage “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” (to be honest, we still can’t figure out what he meant by this), have a go at the body-positive movement and say that he had once been overweight – so, you know, it was totally fine for him to contact a random woman on the internet and start body-shaming her.
Young, again, expended time and energy trying to bring the personal trainer around to a less messed-up view of the world.
Pointing out that he was revealing his own issues with self-worth and appearance, she wrote: “[Your comments are] perpetuating a cycle of self-loathing that we’re taught by society [...] Once you see the truth – that it doesn’t define you or devalue you – you’ll realise that being fat doesn’t have to be this looking cloud throwing shade every time you look in the mirror.
“It’s just an adjective.”
But of course, it didn’t make a difference. The guy responded by telling Young that she was conflating “society” with “how you will feel yourself on your wedding day”, apparently oblivious to the fact that societal pressures are inextricable from self-esteem issues.
“It isn’t society that tells us we look bad,” he said. “We all have a conscious.” (We think he means ‘conscience’.)
“You can see yourself in your wedding dress and know you don’t like it not based off society but based off what you see,” he continued. “When it comes to ‘fat shaming’ you can only be shamed if there is something to be ashamed of. When you get to the point where you have no conscious [sic] then you have no shame.”
He went on to offer his assessment of the photos Young chose to share on her own social media accounts. “It’s like when I look at your Twitter and Instagram. You have so many posts about food. And it’s all bad food. You love food and you know that’s not the right way to live. So you feel ashamed when you people bring it to your attention.”
At this point, Young finally lost it – albeit in the most articulate and powerful way possible.
“People don’t want you to fat-shame them because it’s F**KING MEAN TO MAKE SOMEONE FEEL BAD ABOUT THEMSELVES BASED ON THEIR APPEARANCE.”
She added, succinctly: “Get some morals.”
Now that’s a mic-drop moment. Writing on her Facebook page, Young said that she had chosen to share the exchange in order to highlight the relentless pressures that women face to look a certain way, particularly ahead of getting married.
“I’m posting this because I want every woman and man to know that it does not MATTER what you look like,” she wrote.
“You are worthy. Love is out there for you. Life is waiting with open arms. It doesn’t matter if you’re skinny or fat or between the two or willowy or broad shouldered or peer shaped or like a board or anything in between. You get good stuff in life by being YOU. That's what matters.”
“If you think of life as a ‘game’ with being skinny as how you ‘win,’ this guy is offering to play by the rules and get you there. I’m telling you the game is BOGUS. You don’t need the game. I reject the game. I REFUSE TO PLAY. It’s a fake construct that you can step outside of.”
Young concluded: “Life is waiting for you. It’s too short to be spent worrying about a belly roll. Go be happy and live it to your fullest.”