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Hunter McGrady on the pressure women face to lose weight before their wedding

"When did your wedding become your weight loss journey?" the plus-size model said.
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Plus-size model Hunter McGrady is speaking up about the unfair pressure women face to lose weight before their wedding day.John Parra / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Brides face enormous societal pressures when it comes to how they look, and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Hunter McGrady is no exception.

She recently opened up to Glamour about her disheartening experience shopping for a wedding dress.

"One of the first questions salespeople asked me was whether I was planning on staying this size for the wedding," McGrady told the magazine. "It made my heart sink. I walked in feeling confident and dreaming of a dress that was romantic and whimsical, and suddenly all I could think was, 'Wait a second. Should I lose weight?' I even had salespeople say that they could cover certain areas to hide my hips or my tummy."

But McGrady, a successful curve model who's well-known for her body-positive posts on social media, had no plans to change for the big day.

"Are you kidding? I want to accentuate my curves!" she said of her response to the salespeople. "Here's another thing: We need to start educating the people who work in retail about how to speak to customers, because if they want to help, they need to do it the correct way."

"Not every woman is ashamed of her body," she continued. "We need to stop pushing that narrative."

McGrady, 26, married Brian Keys this past weekend in California.

In her interview with Glamour, which took place before the big day, she added that the way wedding dresses are sized (women typically wear two sizes up in bridal) didn't help.

"There's so much emphasis placed on the number inside your dress, and we've been told our entire lives that larger numbers are bad — society has brainwashed us to believe that being anything larger in a number size is worth freaking out about it, and that's bulls---," McGrady said.

Women for years have counted calories and embarked on fad diets in anticipation of their big day — a part of wedding prep that's become such a given that it has its own hashtag: #sheddingforthewedding. And while there's nothing wrong with wanting to look your best, a point McGrady also makes in her interview, she's one of a new wave of women who are pushing back against the stereotype that all brides want to lose weight.

Take the woman who, after being shamed via text message by a personal trainer who offered to get her in shape before her wedding, had to politely explain that she's already in shape and happy with her body. Or the bride who did lose weight for her big day but also called out the unfair "fat tax" that's added to plus-size wedding gowns.

In Chicago, one woman has even opened a wedding dress shop that's exclusively for plus-size brides, who are often turned away from other boutiques or have to resort to a single rack of gowns among dozens filled with dresses they can't wear.

As for McGrady, she ended up with a custom dress from Watters Bridal — one that showed off all the curves she's proud of.

"A lot of people asked me if I was going to wear a figure-hiding ballgown," she told Glamour. "If you know me, you know I want to show off my body because I am proud of my body, damn it! I wasted too much of my life and too much of my time when I was younger obsessing over how I could change it and how I could be different. It was exhausting."