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What is Brideorexia?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The term “brideorexia” has been coined to describe women who lose weight at a dangerous rate or in unhealthy ways in advance of their weddings. This is simply one form of anorexia, a dangerous and unfortunately very wide-spread eating disorder. According to an article in the scientific journal Appetite, up to 70% of American women within six months of their wedding dates are on some form of diet and exercise plan.

Many people have pointed to brideorexia as one symptom of the incredibly bloated and complex American wedding industry. The wedding industry around the world is quite large, but in the United States in particular, people spend large sums on their weddings in the pursuit of perfection, with many families going into debt to pay for wedding ceremonies. Brides especially tend to experience a great deal of pressure to look absolutely perfect in advance of their weddings.

Throughout human history, women have attempted to look good for their weddings, but the pursuit of perfection has reached new heights. Many brides engage on lengthy regimens before their weddings to achieve tanned, flawless skin, for example, and brideorexia is simply one facet of the pursuit of perfection. While a moderate diet and exercise plan in advance of the big day is not entirely unreasonable, especially if a women has been wanting to achieve a healthier weight anyway, the anorexic behaviors associated with some brides are dangerous and very sad.

Seamstresses and companies which purvey clothing for wedding parties have long commented on brides who deliberately order dresses which are too small, using the dress as a motivation to reach a desired weight goal. Seamstresses point out that it can be devastating for brides to fail to reach the desired goal, and since the goals are often unrealistic, this is very common. In addition, weight loss is not always predictable, and in the case of a tailored gown, it is impossible to predict exactly how the gown will fit if the bride is smaller, so this practice is also counterproductive.

Just like anorexia, brideorexia can manifest in a number of ways, but it is characterized by extreme caloric restriction with the goal of starving the body into weight loss. This may include the use of diet pills and other techniques to encourage weight loss, and in some instances a case of brideorexia may also be accompanied with bulimia, an eating disorder which involves binging and purging. Like anorexia, brideorexia strikes women of all sizes, including women who are already slender or even underweight.

The signs of eating disorders can be tricky to detect, as many victims of eating disorders attempt to hide the problem. Some early warning signs can be repeated discussions about weight and wanting to look perfect, along with discussions of extreme diet plans. Members of the wedding party may want to keep brideorexia in mind, so that they can create a supportive, encouraging environment in which the bride's weight is not the primary focus. It is important to remember that many people with eating disorders are strongly resistant to intervention, and if you suspect that someone you know may be in the grips of an eating disorder, you may want to seek professional help from a doctor or psychologist who specializes in eating disorders.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By eastwest — On Sep 29, 2008

This is so disturbing - that we have taken a wedding day from what it's supposed to be - a ceremony celebrating the marriage of two people - and made it into something that not only costs almost $30,000 in the US on average (on average, that means a lot of people spend MORE!) because it has to be absolutely perfect, but also something where the bride has to be absolutely perfect.

None of us are perfect and the sooner we realize that, the better, but it seems like we believe we have to be, at least on our wedding day.

I guess that only applies to women though - you don't see "groomorexia" being a thing!

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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