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Even though my own wedding is three-to-five years down the road, I’ve been feeling that horrid pressure to lose weight. Not just for my own long-off wedding, but the long-off (Though closer to reality than mine) wedding of my stepsister.

The story of the tensions between myself and my step-family (Not legally my step-family mind you, I was just always forced to call them that) are long and varied. To condense that story, let’s just say that my stepfather made it a blood sport in my teen years to compare my sister and I unfavourably to his own daughter (and son, less often) calling us ugly, stupid, fat, arrogant, undesirable, spoiled, and lazy, whereas she was pretty, skinny, smart, could do no wrong, and was big-breasted and could get any man she ever wanted. I’m not exaggerating here, I promise you, those could be put in quotes if you so desire.

So when the announcement came that she was getting married, my stepfather first decided to react with disappointment (He doesn’t like the guy she’s marrying and thinks she’s too young) and then decided to move onto bragging about how pretty she would look, and that my sister and I would look “like piglets” compared to her on the big day. This, combined with my mom beginning to pressure me to try to lose weight for my own wedding, has really screwed around with my self esteem, and niggles needlessly in the back of my mind whenever I browse for bridal outfits. I find myself holding back the urge to overdose on fibre supplements and stool softeners, and I feel myself getting stuck in a less dramatic version of my old binge/purge cycle, where I would eat foods my mother would scream at me for eating at home (bread, sandwiches, cupcakes, milk, juice, rice, crackers, peanut butter) and then feeling incredibly guilty and purging it by eating nothing but citrus fruit, peppers, and spinach for a few days.

I’ve also found myself obsessively combing the internet for diet tips (Of which there are many, and they all seem to contradict each other) for brides-to-be, and mentally taking notes, when I could just be enjoying the food I eat and feeling good about the way my body moves. The most ridiculous thing is that, no matter what size you are, these sites all encourage you to lose at least ten pounds before you get married, citing the camera’s illusion of added pounds. This of course, has the effect of making me more anxious, even though I know it is silly.

This is less destructive to my body than what I used to do, but it is still bad behaviour. I am aware of it, and that just makes it worse. I can’t seem to stop myself from repeating old, bad behaviours.

This time though, there’s an added element that is driving me towards this destructive behaviour, and much as I try to stop it, being aware of it, I can’t seem to overcome it: Jealousy and wanting to prove that I am just as beautiful and worthy of admiration and excitement for my big day as my stepsister. This makes me grit my teeth, and not only want to be prettier than her on my wedding, but also makes me want to have a better wedding than her.

This is terribly wrong of me, I know it. She’s not the culprit here. Her horrible father is the root of my jealousy and insecurity. I shouldn’t attempt to abuse my body and participate in a ridiculous nonexistent competition just to prove something to him. He doesn’t even deserve an invite to Jaime and I’s most special day (Though I must invite him, only to please my mother. Concessions concessions…) let alone having him be the reason I make certain decisions behind it.

I’ve decided, in light of these feelings and behaviours, that I am going to take some time out of my schedule to see a nutrition and body image counsellor when I am at UVic. I know deep down that I can exorcise these feelings about myself, and, if I have the love and support I need, permanently banish them. Leading a lonely, mostly sedentary lifestyle due to depression and unemployment just contributes to this, in a vicious cycle. I have four days left in Montana, and once I start a new life at UVic, I promise I will not let anything, be it a wedding or a misogynist prig, get in the way of feeling beautiful, healthy, and at-ease in my own body.