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The Princess-Bride Syndrome

by Michele Yulo

You may have heard about the latest dieting fad that is sweeping the wedding industrial complex. It involves using drastic measures to shed those pesky extra pounds enabling the bride-to-be to fit into the dress that she, apparently, purchased two sizes too small so she could have the body she always wanted for ONE day! You know...the BIG day. I have to admit--this one is just plain scary to me.

Image from ABC News

It's called the K-E Diet which is short for "ketogenic enteral nutrition," which is short for inserting a feeding tube up your nose that goes into your stomach providing a liquid diet of protein and fat (mixed with water) for ten days at a cost of $1500. Now--call me crazy--but, paying $1500 to lose weight by basically not eating for ten days seems not only like a no-brainer, but a ripoff as well. 

Sadly, there is nothing new about soon-to-be-brides going to extreme measures so that they can feel like a princess on their wedding day. Isn't that what we usually hear about weddings? That "it's the bride's day" so that they can "feel like a princess?" Reality television has even caught on to the obsession with shows like "Bridezilla" in which average, normal women are transformed into hideous monsters who have an insatiable need to control every aspect of what will inevitably be "the happiest day of their lives!" Or how about the horror show "Bridalplasty" which featured women competing for plastic surgery to complete their fairy tale? In the show, each woman is out to prove that her physical features are more horrifying and hideous than the other's, thereby winning the plastic surgery of her choice. (I can't imagine how much worse the losers must feel having to go home with the same body.) The groom gets to see his "new" wife revealed at the ceremony. Granted, she may look completely different than the woman he thought he was going to marry--but that's his price to pay.


The story about the K-E Diet, highlighted on Good Morning America yesterday, seemed only to focus on the physical aspects of the diet discussing the possible side effects like constipation, bad breath, diminished energy level, and, potential harm to the kidneys. Also, that "[s]lipping into a wedding gown for a dream wedding is a moment of truth for most brides" because "there is a real fear that it will not quite fit." The NY Times actually ran an article today called "Bridal Hunger Games" which also mentioned the new diet saying, "[the] crash dieting in general."

But is that the real problem? Where is the discussion about the psychological issues associated with this irrational fear? Why are we not talking about the massive elephant in the room--the underlying problems that are at the foundation of women who often risk their physical health to look like a princess for one day? Could one reason be a result of growing up exposed to unattainable images from stories about fairy tale princesses? After all, Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Belle, and Rapunzel are all just brides-in-waiting--waiting for their prince so they can be married and live________? That's right: happily ever after. This image women have of themselves walking down the aisle begins as soon as they've been read their first fairy tale or seen their first princess movie, but rarely does "happily ever after" actually materialize the way it does in those stories. We all know that statistics will prove this phrase wrong as over half of marriages fail. 

Shouldn't we be asking why so many women are obsessed with getting into the gown over everything else? After all, at this point, they've already got the guy who clearly loves them as-is. So who are they trying to impress? Some say it's for the pictures. You know--so the bride can look back on that day and say, "I never looked better," and then cry when she tries on the wedding gown that no longer fits. 

Look--I love weddings. I was a bride once. I wore a pale gold dress that I found in the back of my closet that my mother had bought at a garage sale. But I could not have felt more beautiful that day marrying the man I loved. So, I am not saying that I think women should not want to feel beautiful on their wedding day. They absolutely should. But for the right reasons. They should be glowing because they feel special knowing that they're about to embark on a lifelong journey with a person who has accepted them for who they are. Not because they can fit into a smaller sized wedding dress. I just want all women to believe that too.


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