When it comes to walking down the aisle, most women feel they’re never skinny enough. Those within the ideal weight mark still feel the need to lose, say, five pounds if it means a slimmer waistline and more defined cheekbones. Even Duchess Kate Middleton, who was never big to begin with, reportedly used the Dukan Diet before her big day.
From structured diets and popular fads to starvation and surgery, many women will do anything to embody the fantasy of the perfect bride. But the truth is, there is no such thing as the perfect bride.
“Every bride has flaws,” said fashion designer Frederick Peralta, who has been designing wedding gowns for 28 years. “Many have insecurities about their looks. When they come to my shop, they reveal their flaws and concerns. Many feel they’re limited to certain designs. I have to be sensitive to the concerns of these brides.”
Whether it’s the pressure to look stunning in a designer gown or to live up to the epitome of the glowing bride, brides have to endure head-to-foot scrutiny on their big day, even by their invited guests. So how she looks when she says “I do” matters to her more than anyone else.
Take for instance bride-to-be Sherizza Ann Brondo, who works as a system administrator in Singapore. While her marriage to fiancé John Neil Canivel is still almost three years away (on May 8, 2015), this chirpy 24-year-old already began her diet last September.
Skilled in the frightful world of crash diets—in college, she used to starve herself until she passed out and had to be rushed twice to the hospital by her parents—the 5’5” Brondo said she initially wanted to lose weight when her fiancé teased her about her expanding waistline and bulging arms.
Since she started working in Singapore, Brondo said eating burgers, ramen and milk tea with pearls every day has resulted in her puffy cheeks and bulging belly. She ballooned to 130 pounds in less than six months.
To lose weight, she substituted a full meal for dinner with a 140-g cup of low-fat yogurt. If she still feels hungry after, she’ll have a banana. She’s skipped the burgers and the ramen, but continues to eat rice at lunchtime. Exercising is not an option; Brondo dislikes physical activity.
In two weeks, she lost 12 pounds. When her fiancé, based in the Philippines, dropped by for a visit, he was happily surprised but disturbed that she wasn’t eating enough for dinner, so he started encouraging her to eat normally again.
Today, at 118 pounds, Brondo said she still needs to drop to 110 to look her best during her prenup shoot this December. One of her friends, Rechelle, set to get married in March 2013, has already lost 24 pounds in one month following her yogurt diet, and is now happily going to her gown fittings.
“It’s a must for brides to do that,” said Peralta. “The wedding day is the representation of the new her. For brides, it’s one event where everything is transformed, when she has that unexplainable halo of a bride. As a designer, I’m here to enhance the figure but I’m not Vicky Belo. I do discourage going on a diet for those who don’t need it.”
Auggie Cordero gown
As a food reporter, meanwhile, it was nearly impossible for Vangie Baga-Reyes to go on a diet. But the 5’2” Inquirer journalist wanted to look perfect in her Auggie Cordero gown. While she needed to drop from 120 to 110 to reach her ideal weight, she also didn’t want to deprive or starve herself doing that.
It was then that a friend introduced her to Fit for Life, a lifestyle modification program that follows strict food combination guidelines. Carbs, for example, are never combined with protein, but are okay to go with veggies.
Baga-Reyes only snacked on fruits. No coffee, no soda, no dairy products, and no exercise either.
“My goal was not to be healthy but to look good on my wedding day,” she said, laughing. In three months, she dropped to 105 pounds, exceeding her goal of 110. And she didn’t have to starve herself to achieve that.
Athletic to sedentary
Barbette Atienza-Soliven, for her part, had been very athletic in her youth, playing football and practicing taekwondo in college. She inevitably had the appetite of an athlete.
When she entered the workforce and became too busy with work, she couldn’t find time for exercise anymore. She lost her athletic stamina, but maintained the ravenous appetite. She was still eating two cups, sometimes even three cups of rice each meal, minus the active lifestyle.
From 112-115 pounds, the petite 5’1” lady’s weight went up to 150 pounds. It was a nightmare, she said, especially with the wedding day seemingly looming ahead. So she bought former “Biggest Loser” trainer Jillian Michael’s 30-day workout video and started working out every day. Thrice a week she jogged around UP oval from 6-7:30 a.m.
She was feeling better again, but Atienza-Soliven also modified her diet to remove red meat and sweets. She had a cheat day, though, allowing herself a piece of bite-size Cadbury chocolate at least once a week.
She dropped to 123 pounds on her wedding day. Not as skinny as she might have wanted, but enough to make her, and her groom Jeffrey, smile.
Then there’s news reporter Tina Santos-Tulipat, who dropped 20 pounds in two months by refusing to eat any form of carbs and sweets. With a wedding scheduled for January, she even managed to sneak in some holiday treats into her diet.
She was confident about losing weight fast, she said, because she had already done so before in an office bet. A few years prior to her wedding, Santos-Tulipat bet P10,000 that she’d trim down 20 pounds in three months. And she did.
“It is a paradox that a bride about to marry the man who loves her for what and who she is, for her looks and her ways, wants to be better still,” said psychiatrist Dr. Ricardo Soler. “But the fact may simply lie in her wanting to be perfect on such a perfect day as her wedding. She may be fussy, indeed, but it may not be necessarily for her husband-to-be or for anyone else but herself.”
According to Soler, as many as 70 percent of brides-to-be want to lose as much as 20 pounds. Mainly because they feel they will look better, real or imagined, he said.
“Indeed, a bride’s wanting to lose weight by one means or another appears to be no more than a simple feminine caprice or fancy to look lovelier on her wedding day. Pray tell, what is wrong with that?”