Post # 1
We are having a very small wedding so I was originally only going to have one attendant, my sister as a maid of honor. Then my fiance announced that he could not decided between his best friend and his brother for a best man so I had to acquire another bridesmaid to even it up. I asked my best friend to be my bridesmaid. I love this girl to death and we have known each other since high school. About one and a half years ago she was diagnosed with anorexia. It was one of those things where we all told her she was getting too thin but she got defensive and wouldn’t listen. Finally she admitted she had a problem when her gynecologist threatened to hospitalize her after discovering that her weight loss had ended her menstruation a year earlier. She was told that she would not be placed under supervision in the hospital if she took her health seriously and started gaining weight.
For the first 6 months or so she was determined to prove that she could be trusted with her weight management and she did gain some weight. That being said, I still don’t think she looks healthy. She assures me that her doctors have told her that it will take about as much time to recover as it did for it to get this bad. I know that this is just an excuse for her to stay at the weight she is. However, it has been more than enough time and I know she should be bigger by now.
I figured that I would challenge her to gain weight for my wedding in September. I told her she could not participate in the ceremony if she was not 125 pounds by the big day. She seemed to think I was joking but I told her I was completely serious. I have wanted to see her healthy again for so long and if I have to make it happen under the pretenses of being a bridezilla then that is what I will do? I know that it is typically considered in poor wedding etiquette to ask attendants to make drastic life or personal changes for your event. Is wanting to do the right thing for her worth stepping over my bounds as a bride? After all I’m not just asking her to do this as a bride, but as her closest friend. I fear that unless anyone really makes her accountable for her weight and gives her a deadline, she will fall back into more extreme habits like before.
Most of all I’m afraid that as the date of our wedding approaches she will start to feel a little cornered and our friendship will suffer. But I don’t think she should be rewarded for not taking her health seriously. I don’t want this scrawny, shivering stick figure holding a bouquet in my procession because it just looks wrong. I guess the truth is that deep down i really don’t want to look back at my wedding photos and remember her like this. I hate to document this sad time. I am also afraid that I won’t be able to stand my ground and I will let her be in the wedding regardless of her weight. I need to hear from others that I am doing the right thing. I guess I just want to hear that there are other brides in my corner. Please tell me I’m not insane.
Post # 3
I know you have the best of intentions, but I think you’re overstepping. Unless you are acting in consultation and with the approval of her mental health caregiver, you could be undermining her recovery. I know you really want the best for her, and that’s wonderful- but you can’t and shouldn’t force this issue. That’s not your role.
Post # 4
But don’t take my word for it – if you are really committed to helping her, get in touch with a specialist in anorexia and ask what they think about this course of action. They will be able to help you support her in the most productive possible way.
Post # 5
If she won’t gain weight for herself and her own survival….
….why would she do it for a wedding?
She doesn’t need “motivation”, she needs a therapist and a team of people to help her through this.
Post # 6
You can’t bribe someone to recover from a disease. Despite your good intentions, you will do more harm than good. I would apologize to your friend, asap. I’m sorry, but you are definitely not doing the right thing.
Post # 7
This is really hard. Your wedding day is still a ways away, and a lot of things could change by then. I think that a lot of times, medical professionals DO use patients’ weight as a motivator (i.e. when they hit X pounds they get X privillege), but that’s in a controlled environment.
I guess the thing to me would be this–you don’t want her to be in the wedding if she is so thin because you don’t to look at the pictures and remember this sad time. But for her, it will come across like you don’t want her as a friend if she doesn’t get better.
Post # 8
Also–what about asking her if you can come to a counseling appointment with her? It might be good to have this discussion in front of a therapist or counselor, so there is someone else there to referee the conversation and make sure you are both hearing what the other is saying.
Post # 9
Thank you. This helps a lot. I know she was seeing a therapist initially but has not been to an appointment or support group for some time. I will ask her to consider talking with a professional again because I feel like I really saw an improvement in her self esteem when she used to talk with someone about it. I will definitely back off and tell her she is welcome to be in the wedding no matter what. I do want her there by my side. Ideally I just want the day to be a triumph for both of us.
Post # 10
I am sure you have the best intentions, but as someone who has recovered from anorexia I can tell you that you are severely overstepping your boundaries. If you want her to get better, you need to be there to support her, and ‘challenging’ her and giving her ultimatems is the last thing you should be doing. It sounds to me that you are more worried about how it will affect you and will make you look, and not about the general concern for your friend, which seems pretty petty. I know this is an important day for you, but from what you have said she is also an important friend. Take a step back and try and make an attempt to be there for her.
Post # 11
I’m sorry, I know you want to have people support your decision and please don’t take this as an attack, but I agree with the other posters. You are going to hinder her success by doing this and I think you are going to really hurt her and your friendship with her. Any weight gain should be celebrated and there shouldn’t be so much pressure on her while she’s going through this really difficult time. Especially if she was really thin before, asking her to get to 125 by a certain date could be really hard and terrifying for her and I think it would cause even more problems for your wedding. She needs to gain weight safely and healthily and so asking her to hurry up and put on weight won’t help her long term success.
I think you owe her an apology to be honest, even though I defintiely understand that you just want the best for your friend, I really do think you went a bit too far with this request.
Post # 12
You’re not insane, but you need to consider that anorexia is a life-long and chronic disease that your friend is going to battle in ways large and small for a very long time. Issuing and enforcing an ultimatum isn’t going to solve anything, nor will it be a supportive and loving gesture, and my best guess is that it will only serve to push your friend away.
What I really hear from you is fear; fear and sadness about what your friend is experiencing, and also frustration that you want to help but maybe don’t know how. THAT’S what I would share with your friend. Come from a place of love, support, and acceptance and let her know how scared you are for her, how important she is to you, and how much you love and accept her (accepting her does not mean being okay with her disease, but acknowledging that it is a part of her life right now). The wedding is not the important thing, your friend’s health is. Is she in treatment? Ask her how you can help, ask her how you can best be supportive. Is her family involved? Are they, can they be supportive? If she’s not in treatment, is she working with a therapist/psychiatrist/nutritionist? The best (only) way to effectively treat anorexia is with a really comprehensive treatment. Look for resources in your area that you can offer her in case she’s ready to take a look.
Come to her with love and support, openness and a willingness to listen and see where that takes you.
Hope this is helpful, and good luck.
Post # 13
@RobotBabooshka: i agree with @mightywombat. this would definitely be overstepping boundaries. when someone has an eating disorder, it is a mental illness – just like alcoholism is a mental illness. sometimes, no matter how hard someone wants to get better, they simply can’t on their own. they need the help of a professional and need to be able to count on the close people in their lives for support — because it might be all they feel they have left.
your friend is telling the truth about it taking a long time to recover. eating disorders can take years to recover from – and sometimes – you will battle it your entire life. the reason it is a mental illness is because they have an altered image of themselves and no amount of persuasion from peers/family/doctors will make them see it as otherwise. you might see a perfectly fit, healthy, beautiful girl – – but all she sees ugliness.
eating disorders can also be issues of control. in this case, when a person that suffers from the eating disorder feels a loss of control in their life, their weight becomes a focal point by which they can better control it. if you try to take more control away from her by making these rules you could actually be doing more harm than good.
be there for your best friend. be her support system – because i assure you, she needs you. don’t attack her. tell her how much you care about her and that you worry about her health. you worry that her habits are slowly going to kill her and tell her how much it hurts you to think about losing her. write it all out. give it to her in a letter. i promise it will be well received.
(if you need to, PM me)
Post # 14
The thing about anorexia for some is the issue tends to be about self esteem. Some (and this may or may not be the case for your friend-and I’m not qualified to make that judgment) believe they don’t deserve to eat and be healthy. Delivering an ultimatum is not the way to go with this. If you want to help her reach a more healthy weight, talk to a qualified mental health professional and find out what you can do as a friend to help. I don’t think you are insane, I think you do want your friend to be healthy, but telling her she has to reach a certain weight by a certain time-is not the way to go. Her recovery will be slow, and know even when she is at a healthy weight it is still going to be something she will struggle with for awhile.
Post # 15
While I believe you care about her 110%, I don’t agree with the way you are going about it. She has to do it for herself. She might have to go through the hospital supervision to get her to realize the severity of her disease. I think encouraging her to gain weight while holding her position in your wedding over her head will just stir up emotions that lead her to her anorexic behaviors. And thus the cycle will never end. She needs professional help, and even if she does gain the weight, who is to say she won’t end up in an even more grave situation afterwards trying to lose it again? You will have your wedding photos, but risk the loss of your friend through death from this disease. You cannot and should not take this into your own hands.
Post # 16
I agree with the PPs. Anoxeria isn’t that she simply won’t gain weight and that she needs motivation to do so. It is a psychological disease– and it’s often lethal. People have to be trained to help anorexics recover from this disease. Recovery is a long and difficult road, and relapse is common. I also think you should apologize to your friend and just explain to her that you’re very worried about her and you don’t want her life to end. But that it wasn’t appropriate for you to put a time frame on her recovery. And I would recommend that you talk to her therapist, if possible, to see what you should or shouldn’t do/ say and possibly get some pointers on what your role is in this delicate situation.
“I don’t want this scrawny, shivering stick figure holding a bouquet in my procession because it just looks wrong.”
She has a potentially life threatening disease, and it strikes me as very sad that you are worried about what she’ll look like in your wedding procession. Some things are more important. How are you going to feel about excluding her from your wedding if she dies?
ETA: I just saw your follow up post. It seems that you really have the best intentions, but again, this is a delicate disease and very innocent comments can have drastic effects. Doing something like “making her wear a shawl or something, if she doesn’t hit that target weight” like a PP suggested, could possibly convey to her that you think she’s disgusting to look at and want her to cover up– which probably isn’t going to help her recovery. The way she sees herself in her head is different than she actually looks, so any comment about her weight can potentially be misconstrued as something negative.