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The shrinking bride
Every woman, no matter how young or old, rich or poor, wants to be at her thinnest best for her wedding day, even if she's already pretty perfect like queen-in-waiting Kate Middleton. The 29-year-old has knocked several pounds off her already thin frame, thanks to what many say is the controversial, high-protein, low-fat Dukan Diet ever since her engagement to Prince William was announced in November. Her slim look even prompted an onlooker in Belfast recently to tell her to "not to lose any more weight. "
The Big, fat wedding is great, but no bride wants 'fat' to be used to describe her figure. Be it royalty in Britain or the ordinary bride back home, they're all afflicted by "brideorexia", the term coined to denote the most extreme (and frequently unhealthy) of these wedding-related weight-loss efforts. Nutritionist and obesity consultant Naini Setalvad says a healthy percentage of her clients are brides who want to lose weight. "But I always recommend that the goal should be the optimum weight to look good, not just for the wedding. "
The pressure to look good has spawned a whole industry. The number of women who walk into a beauty centre six months prior to their wedding day and opt for body sculpting and weight-loss packages rises every wedding season. Many tell their darzis to stitch the wedding blouse several sizes smaller than they are in anticipation of losing weight.
All's fair in the off-with-the-kilos game, with some brides using laxatives or resorting to excessive smoking to kill their appetites. Pictures splashed on Facebook for the world to see don't help either.
But how thin is too thin? While Setalvad recommends eating more from the plant kingdom than animals and a healthy amount of exercise, there are those who try and skip meals altogether. It might shrink your waist but the Mumbai-based nutritionist warns, "Drastic weight loss will lead to fatigue, irritability, tired skin and a reduced sex drive. That is not what you want. "
Vrinda Kapoor got engaged in November and like all girls are wont to do, the Delhi-based advocate adopted a new fitness regimen three months prior to D-day but the results weren't what she expected. "I lost a lot of weight but a lot of people commented on how gaunt I looked, " says the 25-year-old. "I really restricted my diet and got paranoid about what I was eating and when. I could see the dark circles, " she adds. Now bigger and wiser, Vrinda is more confident and sure of what she wants to look like. "I still have a few months to go before the wedding but I'm not going to go overboard like I did, " she said. "I want to look stunning in any outfit but I'm not willing to go on a crash diet. I am trying to regulate what I eat and will exercise to tone up. " For celebrities, the pressure to look good exists on a daily basis but even they are not immune to running that extra mile when the wedding is just a couple of months away. Teejay Sidhu, a popular television anchor, who is married to actor Karanvir Bohra, admits to exercising more in the run-up to the wedding. "You never know when that extra bit you ate will show up, " she jokes. But she suggests adopting healthy habits that will stay on long after the nuptials.
"There are so many books available. Read up. Cut down on carbs and sugar. Adopt regular eating habits. I think Indian women are curvy and we shouldn't try and get rid of our curves, " she says.
Megha Chawla, who works as a consultant, is perhaps one of the few brides who didn't want a drastic change.
"I tried working out but work got in the way and I also figured that if the boy liked the 'fat' me then I don't need to be thin for my wedding, " she confesses candidly.
The 27-year-old who got married on April 11 feels most women attach too much importance to looking good. "People have a standard idea of what's beautiful or what looks good. On a more personal level, I didn't want to look at my wedding pictures and feel miserable seeing the thin me because all the weight does eventually come back. "
While a majority of the fasting women go back to their feasting ways after marriage, there are some that get too caught up in the cycle of being thin and feeling beautiful.
But Setalvad isn't unduly worried. "If you continue starving youself then you will suffer from malnutrition. However, most Indian women ease up on the dieting the minute the knot is tied. Not eating is too much of an effort. "
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