How 'Waity Katie' turned into the vanishing bride
The princess-to-be has reportedly gone from a size 10 to a size six, writes Deirdre Reynolds
Patiently holding out for her prince to pop the question, she was dubbed 'Waity Katie' -- but one thing is for sure, no one could accuse bride-to-be Kate Middleton of being a 'Weighty Katie'.
With just a fortnight to go until the royal wedding, Kate (29) appears to have become the latest victim of Incredible Shrinking Bride syndrome -- reportedly dropping from a healthy size 10 to a scrawny size six ahead of her big day.
Natural beauty Kate first caught the eye of Prince William while sashaying down the catwalk in a see-through dress at a St Andrew's University fashion show in 2002.
But at a royal walkabout in Lancashire earlier this week, her once-enviable athletic body looked to have all but vanished in a saggy navy skirt suit.
"When I saw the pictures of Kate on Monday, I thought she looked haggard," says image management expert Terry Prone.
"All brides want to lose weight for their wedding -- but Kate had the perfect figure to begin with, so now she just looks way too thin.
"I doubt she went through any kind of 'Princess Bootcamp' to polish her image, though," she adds. "As someone who's chosen to do her own make-up on her wedding day, she knows her look.
"I figure it's just down to the usual bride thing -- but whatever she's doing, she should stop now."
At a statuesque 5ft 10in, Kate's guesstimated to weigh around eight stone. But with the camera infamously adding 10 pounds, even regular brides often go to extremes to look picture-perfect on their big day.
"This is a really common phenomenon among brides," says Rosemarie Meleady of TheWeddingPlanner.ie. "It's the one time in your life when you hire a professional photographer and spend an astronomical amount on a dress, so naturally you want to look your best.
"But the stress of having all eyes on you can cause brides to either become scarily thin like Kate, or go in the opposite direction by comfort eating."
Such is the pressure on brides to squeeze into a fairytale frock and look flawless in their wedding snaps, that two new reality TV shows have sprung up to capitalise on the trend.
In Shedding for the Wedding, nine pairs of overweight lovebirds battle it out to become the biggest losers in the run-up to their wedding day.
While the bulging brides on Bridalplasty go one step further, competing for plastic surgery and a dream wedding at which to show it off.
Ahead of her April 29 nuptials, however, Kate's frail frame has sparked concerns that she could have more in common with late mother-in-law Diana than just the sapphire engagement ring on her finger.
From shapely nursery teacher to pencil-thin princess, Diana's wedding dress had to be taken in from a 29-inch to a 23-inch waist as her weight plummeted in the weeks before her 1981 wedding day -- the beginning of a lifelong battle with bulimia.
"Your wedding is a very stressful time in a person's life and that's going to have consequences on your body," says Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director of Human Health and Nutrition at Safefood.
"Deliberately dieting to fit into a dress is one thing, but the social pressure of having the 'perfect wedding' often results in brides suffering unintentional weight loss.
"In the weeks leading up to the wedding, brides can be so busy that they 'forget' to eat -- compounded by the fact that they're running around like lunatics to dress fittings and rehearsal dinners.
"It's been happening since time immemorial and most of the time, it's a fairly benign phenomenon.
"However, with someone like Kate who's already very slim, it can be more dangerous," she warns. "Amid the chaos and stress of planning a wedding, food is something the bride can control -- which could potentially lead to unhealthy eating habits in the long run."
With a worldwide audience of two billion people set to tune in to the wedding of the decade tomorrow fortnight, who could blame star-of-the-show Kate for not having the stomach for breakfast.
At a recent royal engagement in Belfast, however, a throwaway remark by the soon-to-be Mrs William Windsor hinted that her dramatic weight loss isn't simply down to nerves.
When well-wisher Heather Lindsay implored the princess bride "not to lose any more weight", Kate told her it was "all part of the wedding plan".
Whether by design or default, one person who's unlikely to be too happy with her fading frame is the mystery wedding-dress designer.
British couturiers Bruce Oldfield and Jasper Conran are among those rumoured to have landed the commission of a lifetime to design Kate's wedding frock.
But if the bride's weight continues to plummet -- or indeed bounces back in time for the big day, the mystery designer could be on standby with a needle and thread to ensure their creation fits the way it should.
"A top designer will have recognised if the bride is losing weight week after week and adjusted the dress accordingly," wedding planner Rosemarie Melady reassures fashionistas everywhere.
"Most brides will go for regular dress fittings anyway. Weight loss is only really an issue if they've bought off the peg in a particular size -- and Kate's unlikely to have that problem!"
Married in 2008 in the glare of the Irish media, model Sarah McGovern says she can totally empathise with Kate Middleton.
"As a model, you're always under a certain amount of scrutiny," says mum-to-be Sarah. "So I can only imagine what Kate's going through with the whole world watching.
"I didn't get stressed about my wedding -- but a few months before my big day, I did hire a personal trainer to help me look my best.
"Between eating healthily and working out, I suppose I lost about half a stone," she admits.
"Some people might say I lost too much weight, but I don't think I looked unhealthy. You go to some weddings where the bride looks gaunt having lost too much weight.
"And as I was having my dress made, I was going for fittings the whole way through -- so I didn't have to get it taken in at the last minute."
If, like Kate, you're gearing up to say 'I Do' this summer, remember your five-a-day to look less bony bride than blushing bride, adds Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan.
"As well as the obvious weight loss, ignoring your diet can leave your nails, hair and skin in poor condition" she says. "Brides who don't value healthy eating during the wedding planning process will end up looking less-than-radiant on their big day -- which is a pity.
"My advice is to get plenty of fruit and vegetables in the run-up to the wedding -- and don't forget to eat!"