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Guys Talk About Their Wedding-Related Body Image Issues

From height to receding hairlines.

Andrew Richard / BuzzFeed

When we talk about people trying to feel good about their bodies for their wedding, there's a tacit agreement that we're talking about women. Don't believe me? Think about the shows and articles you've seen, or the conversations you've had.

Do a quick Google image search for "wedding weight loss," for example, and the results will be 99% female. The photos show women in lace wedding dresses with measuring tapes around their waists; before and after photos of ladies proudly showing off all the spare fabric their pre-wedding diets gave them.

Setting aside the pressure this puts on women who, I don't know, maybe just want to get married and be happy, it creates a vacuum for men who might be grappling with body image issues of their own.

When I put out a call for men to share via the BuzzFeed Community how they were affected by their their body insecurities before and during their weddings, I received dozens of responses. Men, it turns out, deal with a lot — weight, height, hair loss, too much hair, excess sweat — but rarely have the space to discuss it, or even feel that they're not alone.

Here are three of their stories.

Paul, 29, Berkley, Michigan

Andrew Richard / BuzzFeed

Paul and his wife, Nicole, got married in February 2015 after dating for five years. Paul hoped to lose weight before his wedding.

How has your weight affected you throughout your life?

I'm about 5'11" and I've always fluctuated around 250 pounds, plus or minus 20 pounds. It's only bothered me in the same way it'd bother anyone — you're much harder on yourself than anybody else is. Especially in high school and in early college, it affected my confidence in approaching any romantic interest. As you get older, you realize that weight isn't all that there is to people. Especially after I graduated from undergrad, I became more accepting of who I was at that time. It's good to strive for improvement, but you have to have self-respect and acceptance for yourself. I met my wife just after I finished my first year of law school.

How did your concerns about your weight affect you as you prepared for your wedding?

The joke after I got engaged was about me going on a wedding diet. Even when we went shopping for the engagement ring, the joke in the background was like, "When's the diet going to start?" When you get married, all you do is open yourself up to unsolicited advice from people about everything.

I guess it didn't bother me because as a guy, you're exposed to things like King of Queens — you know, the guy is a fat, funny slob with a hot, young wife. The trope that it doesn't matter what guys look like because no one cares is everywhere. Even the dadbod trend was about embracing that whole mentality. The whole thing is really, really strange.

It wasn't too worried about losing weight, but I wanted to look the best I could for my wedding day, because those are the pictures everyone looks at. I used apps like Fitbit to figure out what I was eating, what my target would be. By the wedding, I'd lost 5–7 pounds. As the wedding approached, the anxiety would increase that I wasn't making it a priority. At the three-month mark, I realized some massive change wasn't going to occur, so it became more about feeling good than hitting a number I thought would look good.

How did you feel about it on your wedding day?

I'm very pleased with how everything turned out. I don't remember much from the wedding; it was a blur. On the day itself, I wasn't bemoaning that I should've lost more weight. I was just in the moment, so it didn't bother me too much. The pictures look good, I felt good, and now I look back and I feel good about it — "How tight does my jacket look?" was not anywhere on that list. Sure, in some photos, I look and think, "That's not a great angle," but not every photo is going to be a pleasant one. I don't think anyone is 100% happy with the all of the pictures taken of them.

How do you think men experience body image issues differently than women?

Body image issues are the same for weddings as they are in general — there are mass-produced, heavily sexualized [images of] women in advertisements for everything. Wedding magazines and everything make women think they should look that way when they get married, too. Men are kind of told it doesn't matter how you look, as long as you're funny or have a hot wife.

Men don't really talk about anything that's important. Male friendships are predicated on different experiences than female relationships are; men don't turn to each other for emotional support. When it came to wedding stuff, my guy friends and I only talked about the bachelor party, and if I were to bring up my weight, it would be about losing it in general, not for the wedding. I didn't feel alone or anything — I had support from my fiancé and my family when I was trying to lose weight — but I think men should be more open to speaking to each other about anything.

Trevor, 30, Portland, Oregon

Andrew Richard / BuzzFeed

Trevor and his wife, Karen, married in August 2012 after five years together. Trevor was self-conscious about his receding hairline before their wedding.

When did you first notice you were losing your hair?

Karen and I met on Halloween of 2007, and I noticed that I was losing my hair right around the time that we met. I used to get a regular short and tight haircut once or twice a year and then grow it out to your standard young skater punk long hair flop. And then every time I got it cut short I started to notice that it took longer and longer for the front part to grow back, and it was coming back thinner every time. It was a huge bummer, especially because I wasn't even 30 yet. I loved being able to grow my hair longer, I felt so cool. I tried for a little while to do buzz cuts but I have a funky-shaped head so I wasn't really feeling it.

How did your concerns about your hairline affect you as you prepared for your wedding?

I thought about it a lot right from the beginning of our engagement. I mean, I can't speak for all dudes, but I personally had put a fair amount of thought into what my wedding would be like as I grew up. I never pictured me being balding. This is gonna sound lame, but I always pictured an "Uncle Jesse from Full House when he married Aunt Becky" type of hair situation.

I considered going back to the buzz cut but again, I hate the way my bare head looks. I also considered trying Rogaine or something, but that stuff is expensive and I've always heard such mixed reviews about how well it works.

Trevor Dunham

How did you feel about it on your wedding day?

Honestly, it crossed my mind when I was getting ready and then I didn't think about it one time the rest of the day. There is so much happening on your wedding day, especially if you have a bigger wedding (I think we had around 150 guests) that all of the smaller things kind of fall by the wayside. I just didn't have time to think about it.

In terms of the love I felt, and the love I was feeling for my gorgeous bride that day, it affected me none. Sometimes when I look at our wedding pictures I cringe a little about it, and it's still an issue that I have. But whaddayagonnado, amiright?

Has any of this affected your relationship with your wife?

She's always been super kind about it and always says I'm being silly and it's not that bad. Which is nice to hear, but you know when you get an idea in your head regarding something you don't like about your appearance? It can be hard for others to convince you otherwise.

It really sucks that we, as a society, put such an unrealistic picture of what it is to be good-looking out there. Like I mentioned my lame Full House comparison, I used to have [that idea in] my head. Well, I am no John Stamos, that is for sure. But damn it, I don't need to be. I'm Trevor fucking Dunham and that's all I need to be. And it seems to be good enough for my wife.

Alex, 36, Farmington, Utah

Andrew Richard / BuzzFeed

Alex and his wife Christy got married in March 2016. Alex is 5'0", and his wife is 5'3".

How has your height affected you throughout your life?

Most of the women I have dated have been much taller than I am, usually around 5'6" or 5'7". I was always extremely self-conscious. It made me feel weak. To me, it felt like people I dated would be overprotective of me, like they were thinking, "Hey, I have to protect the small one." That's OK sometimes, but not all the time. That's not how I felt inside, so that was very frustrating for me. I am strong even though I am small.

Christy and I met about a year and a half ago. I was speaking at a LGBT conference at the University of Utah. She was attending a class I was speaking in, and we talked afterwards and formed a friendship. As time went on, we acknowledged our connection, which was really special.

Alex, who is transgender, started transitioning in November 2011.

Before I transitioned, I was insecure about everything about my body; everything I felt was much more intense. Growing up assigned female, it was still hard to be as short as I am. I wanted to hang out with the guys, but I always felt less than. I got shoved into a locker in high school because I fit inside it. I liked playing basketball, but I never got picked because I was small. It felt like my height always put me at a disadvantage.

When I decided to transition, it was hard. In the guy world, there are alpha dogs, the super manly ones. I wondered where I would fit in, and I was nervous. I am very, very short in the guy world. As I transitioned, though, it changed. I have become much more secure and confident now that I feel like my soul and body are connected. It is so much easier to get through. It isn't always about height anymore; I have bigger things to worry about. Still, I do sometimes feel insecure about it. When you're smaller than your wife is, people look at that. As I've transitioned, I get the short jokes from guys. I get roused about it, but I take it all in good fun.

Alex Florence
Alex Florence

How did your concerns about your height affect you as you prepared for your wedding?

I was pretty conscious of it for a few reasons. You look at the magazines and see tuxes on 6-foot-tall model guys with big biceps. I knew I wasn't going to look like that. I thought, "Am I going to look like a squat guy in their dad's suit? Are people going to think it's too big? Or that I really found something that worked for me?" I will always have to get things tailored so that they're not too long, but I was concerned that my suit wasn't going to come out right. I wondered if I was going to look like I have broad shoulders, with that V-shape look from the shoulders down.

How did you feel about it on your wedding day?

I was conscious about everything up to the moment the wedding happened, and at that moment, I was like, "Eh, whatever." Up to the day we were getting married, I was like, "Am I going to look short? She's going to be wearing heels." She did buy heels, but she ended up taking them off because she knew it was something that made me feel, for that moment, less masculine.

During the wedding, I was wondering if I I looked handsome in my suit, if it fit the way it should fit a guy. You know, straight down in the hips, with broad enough shoulders. Once I saw some of the candid pics, I was like, "Damn, I look handsome! It looks so much better than what was in my head! That's what I was going for!" I was really happy about it. A lot of people complimented me on my suit, and I looked nice. I cleaned up well. I'm small, but I worked it. I looked like I felt really confident and that's what I wanted, that's what I hoped for.

How does your height affect your relationship with your wife?

She's very conscious of my feelings; she helps me feel better when I have dysphoric feelings, like if I look guy-ish or not. When we first started dating, she wore flat shoes a lot, but our height difference isn't super noticeable — she's only three inches taller than I am. Discussing my height wasn't the first thing we talked about, but after a while, I told her I feel smaller sometimes, especially when people asked if I was her son. She's older than I am (even though she doesn't look it), and I look younger than my age, but I thought that was happening because I look short. Now she'll do things like walk on the lower part of the slope when we're walking so our height is even, or hold me tighter when there are bigger guys around. She says, "I love you, and nothing about you embarrasses me at all."

How do you think men experience body image issues differently than women?

I've learned that in guy world, you don't talk about your feelings. With weddings, everyone goes through their own stress. I thought that when I transitioned, my body image issues would go away, but they just transferred somewhere else. The media says I should have a six-pack and look a certain way, and I have to be secure with the fact that I never will. Height-wise, this is something I can't change. I have to accept it. I'm going to have bad days or moments. On your wedding day, you have to be secure and focus on what's important — you're marrying the love of your life.

Interviews have been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

Body Positivity Week is a week of content devoted to exploring and celebrating our complicated relationships with our bodies. Check out more great Body Positivity Week content here.

Chris Ritter / BuzzFeed