Feminism | Posted by Gina S on 07/3/2013

The Sexism Of Bridal Culture

I’m not a fan of the whole heterosexual white wedding package. The sexism, gender roles and heteronormativity that generally come with it are far too problematic for me and the fact that this is what society likes to spoon-feed females practically from birth is troublesome. It starts with the Disney Princess movies which feature weddings as the ultimate happily ever-afters. It continues with romantic comedy movies in which getting married is the central goal of the protagonist. And it continues in real life when your friends and relatives anxiously inquire when your ‘special day’ is going to be as soon as you reach a certain age and are in a relationship. Women are taught to aspire to marriage above all else, to crave it more than intellectual success or the freedom to pursue happiness with someone else in a different way(one with possibly less expense and more significant symbols of our love and commitment to our partners). I’m all for celebrating our love for our significant others, but I’m not for this ridiculous bridal culture. So why do we become so obsessed with the “princess style” wedding? I believe that wedding-oriented media is largely to blame. Have you ever picked up a bridal magazine? Have you ever watched Bridezilla or My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding? They all stress the dire importance of showy extravagance and feature a disturbing fixation with the bride’s beauty. Am I the only one who sees the supposed meaning of the day slipping away into an abyss of confetti and glitter? Why are women taught to strive for this expensive, unrealistically perfect story-book wedding. More importantly, why do so many women accept it?

I think we buy into it because from very young ages, girls are socialized to wait for a nice handsome man to rescue us from distress with a big shiny rock and the expectation of home-cooked meals. The cover of ‘Brides Magazine’ is a perfect example of the problematic nature of these weddings. Some sample headlines: ‘No nerves, no tears! We show you how’, ‘lose 6lb in 6 days!’ and ‘the shocking secret to a happy marriage’. Numerous bridal magazines promote the general idea that if you’re not hysterically crying, fraught with nerves and losing weight in preparation for your big day, you’re not doing it right. Also, if you think that the obvious level of commitment, connection and love that you have for your partner is enough to secure a happy married life, think again. The secret to a happy marriage is shocking and can be delivered in a bullet-pointed list format, which is teased on the cover.

But even worse than bridal magazines are bride-centric T.V. shows. Watching ‘Bridezilla’ is both alienating and pathetic. I find myself feeling bad for these women who have so absorbed these ideals of having the wedding to end all weddings, who become so embedded in their own narcissism and greed that the true meaning of the event doesn’t even come into play throughout the episode. The whole thing is geared specifically towards the bride, which only furthers the notion that getting married is the best and most important part of any woman’s life. Why isn’t there a show about the madness and perfectionism of grooms? The implication is that the wedding is just another even in the groom’s life whereas it’s the biggest day of a bride’s life and everything else should pale in comparison. These shows make clear that weddings aren’t about celebrating love and commitment: they’re about the bride’s beauty and need for attention.

Is this what being female means to women today? Being considered ‘unusual’ or ‘strange’ if, for example, you want to walk yourself down the aisle in a dress that isn’t white (symbolizing your purity and virginity)?  Is the idea to raise our women to aspire to have such ridiculous weddings and then air it on TV in order to have a good laugh at them? To me, the whole wedding-oriented media seems incredibly misogynistic and damaging. Why can’t we live in a society that presents weddings for what they ideally should be (a ceremony that marks the serious commitment to the person you love) rather than the ultimate best day of a woman’s life that focuses on her beauty and encourages her to act ridiculously?

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  • Patricia Hester @ at 3:24 am, July 4th, 2013

    Consider the contribution to society of the typical bride. She will sacrifice her health (consider the effect on the body of bearing children), her time and efforts to raise a child which is a commitment of at least 21 years and the end product is another “consumer” in our profit-driven culture and even worse the children will possibly be cannon fodder for future wars. That’s the true purpose behind the whole bridal culture and the increasing restriction on freedom of choice when it comes to procreation. Women must bear and raise children with very little help (assistance with child care) from the government. So why not give them the notion that they are “queens for a day”.

  • Talia bat Pessi @ at 10:05 pm, July 4th, 2013

    I’m not sure your analysis of Bridezillas is 100% correct. Watching the show, it’s clear that the brides are just not nice people – they scream at their parents and call their friends names, act disrespectfully towards bridal store staff and florists etc., and cry hysterically when things don’t go their way. I don’t think perfectly lovely women are transformed into monsters while planning for their weddings. The fact that there’s a show about these women while they plan their weddings and get married is a manifestation of what you’re saying in the rest of the article, about how we live in a bridal culture. But your analysis of Bridezillas may be a little off.

    Past that, excellent social criticism. Keep up the good work.

  • Arlene C. Harris @ at 1:19 pm, July 7th, 2013

    This goes to explain a few things, when my friend of many years pulled a deal breaker of a stunt and I decided I no longer wanted her and her drama in my life, her first response was “Well you’re no longer my maid of honor!” Keep in mind, she’s not even engaged to anyone at present. So, yeah. Priorities.

  • The Sexism Of Bridal Culture | Fashion @ at 11:59 am, July 15th, 2013

    [...] I’m not a fan of the whole heterosexual white wedding package. The sexism, gender roles and heteronormativity that generally come with it are far too problematic for me and the fact that this is what society likes to spoon-feed females practically from birth is troublesome. It starts with the Disney Princess movies which feature weddings as the ultimate happily ever-afters. It continues with romantic comedy movies in which getting married is the central goal of the protagonist. And it continues in real life when your friends and relatives anxiously inquire when your ‘special day’ is going to be as soon as you reach a certain age and are in a relationship. Women are taught to aspire to marriage above all else, to crave it more than intellectual success or the freedom to pursue happiness with someone else in a different way(one with possibly less expense and more significant symbols of our love and commitment to our partners). I’m all for celebrating our love for our significant others, but I’m not for this ridiculous bridal culture. So why do we become so obsessed with the “princess style” wedding? I believe that wedding-oriented media is largely to blame. Have you ever picked up a bridal magazine? Have you ever watched Bridezilla or My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding? They all stress the dire importance of showy extravagance and feature a disturbing fixation with the bride’s beauty. Am I the only one who sees the supposed meaning of the day slipping away into an abyss of confetti and glitter? Why are women taught to strive for this expensive, unrealistically perfect story-book wedding. More importantly, why do so many women accept it? Read more… [...]

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