Losing weight for a wedding has been a rite of passage for many a bride for longer than we'd like to admit, maybe even forever, and there are stats to back up the fact that a majority of engaged women want to drop as much as 20 pounds before they walk down the aisle. But there's a newer, more disturbing ante-up at work. Pre-wedding diets have become extreme. Linda Lee writes of this awful new bridal "trend" in The New York Times Friday using the headline "Bridal Hunger Games." Katniss would not approve, though, to be honest, weight loss by feeding tube and the injections of a hormone associated with pregnancy do sound pretty dystopian. 

Meet the brides!

  • Jennifer Derrick, who had gained nearly 35 pounds and wanted to fit in her grandmother's 1938 wedding dress. She "took prescription pills, had vitamin B shots and made weekly $45 visits to a Medithin clinic in Janesville, Wis." 
  • Jessica Schnaider, who prepared to shop for her gown by consuming only 800 calories daily under a doctor-supervised diet that involved the insertion of a feeding tube up her nose. 
  • Lindsay Gardner, who lost 14 pounds on injections of human chorionic gonadotropin, a pregnancy-related hormone. Even though in 2010 the FDA declared the use of the hormone "fraudulent for weight loss and illegal," Gardner was prescribed it, and used it, anyway—pairing the hormone injections with a 500-calorie diet.

Comparatively less extreme, and more commonplace, are the brides shelling out money for juice cleanses (a popular cleanse, BluePrint, offers a special bridal cleanse), and personal training sessions to get in shape before the big day. Personal trainer Sue Fleming, who wrote a whole book about being a buff bride, charges $140 to $200 (everything having to do with weddings costs more, after all) for each session with bride-to-be clients, and she generally helps them lose 15 to 20 pounds each. Lee writes, "One of her customers was so proud of her improved arms that she dropped and did push-ups before walking the aisle." Fun wedding.

Compounding these issues is one of size-ism. Wedding dresses run small, which means a typical size 8 woman needs a size 10 or 12 dress, and no woman wants to size up to more easily fit the dresses, even though that's what the shops want them to do. It's a psychological minefield, apparently, one best traversed by shoving a feeding tube up your nose and walking around like that for 10 days. As for that diet, per Lee:

It uses a nasogastric tube (a tube that goes through the nose and down the esophagus into the stomach) to provide all nourishment, with no carbohydrates, for 10 days. Dr. Di Pietro said body weight is lost quickly through ketosis, the state in which the body burns fat rather than sugar. Patients at his office are monitored during the 10-day period for things like constipation, bad breath and dizziness.

Other potential side effects include kidney stones, dehydration, headaches, loss of muscle mass, and, of course, putting a tube up your nose and walking around like that in public, dealing with the reactions from strangers or friends who don't understand what in heaven's name you are doing: 

“People think I’m sick, I’m dying,” said Ms. Schnaider, a watch wholesaler in Miami. She refrained from going into her daughters’ school. “The children, they would be scared,” she said.

Well, yes. The privilege of doing this will run you $1,500 for 10 days. Just another small price to pay to look good in your wedding photos for all of eternity? For some, apparently.

Image via Shutterstock by MNStudio.