Tuesday, April 14, 2009

About the Wedding, Part 1: The Dress

I have recently referred to myself on Twitter as a "feminist bridezilla." It's probably time for me to start explaining what I mean. Last night, I wrote some pretty harsh words about weddings, spawned from a weekend-long binge of writing my analysis section. I'm guessing my brilliant advisor won't appreciate 30 pages of a rant, so guess what? The readers of LBDelicious get the rant that can't go in the analysis, for which I have to show some degree of restraint. Instead of turning my readers off with a really long, angry post, I'm going to break it down into sections, and tame it down a little.

Let me begin by saying that I don't think that weddings, or marriages, are anti-feminist or bad. However, they can be, if we're not careful. Hence the reason I consider myself a "feminist bridezilla." I reject the traditional notions of what it means to be a bride, yet I DO NOT JUDGE those of you who identify with that notion. If you want a big white pouffy dress, and if you want to spend $45,000 on a party for 200 of your closest friends, more power to you. But, to quote several of the non-traditional brides in my study, "it's just not me." Sure, it'd be great to waltz into an expensive bridal boutique with a brothel of important women in my life, pick out - with their help- a romantic, lacy, vintage-looking Claire Pettibone gown, shed a few tears over just how beautiful I am and how exciting it is to "go bridal," and drop a few grand on it with no remorse. But. That's. Not. How. I. Roll. Let's be honest, my mother and I can't even plan a trip to go out to eat in Huntsville without some degree of stress and anxiety; why would I want to bring these feelings into the bridal gown search?

Instead, I chose not to purchase a traditional bridal gown, and I chose not to shop for wedding dresses. It was a tough decision. It meant rejecting every single media message, and every other narrative from girlfriends and family members who've enjoyed their wedding dress shopping, that said I *should* want to hunt for and purchase such a dress. Some days, I feel like maybe my girl card is going to be revoked for not flipping through 20 bridal magazines, going into bridal salons with my mom or maid of honor, and not finding that "perfect" expensive dress that makes me look like a princess. But, I finally reached the conclusion that if a wedding really was supposed to be "about me" (honestly, they're not about the couple. trust me. I'm an expert on this), then who was I, really, and how do I represent that? You know who I think I am? I am a cute, white, cotton, $98 J. Crew sundress and Rainbow flip flops, hanging out at the bar on Saturday night with my friends. So that's what you'll get by coming to my wedding. It's as honest as I can be. I'm not a beautiful couture gown (can't afford it, and if I could, I'd probably spend that money on something else, like a kitchen with an island, tile backsplash and granite countertops). I'm not a mass-market "wedding gown" that looks expensive but really is overpriced and made overseas in a sweatshop where their employees make so little money that they couldn't purchase the dresses they toil over. I am a simple, plain, woman, not extra-ordinary or more special than anyone else I know, except that I have the most freaking awesome friends, family and life that I'll celebrate on June 6.

Besides that, there is a huge time investment and great deal of cultural pressure on women to have that perfect wedding/perfect dress. Can we talk about time for a little while? How exactly do I spend my time these days? My time is spent writing a dissertation. Making lesson plans. Teaching. Working with students. Helping them outline/write their papers. Seeing my friends, not nearly as much as I'd like. Training for a triathlon. Eating. Cooking. Applying for jobs that are non-existent right now. Frequent trips to Starbucks. Watching American Idol and Lost. And seeing my fiance, which includes 12 hours on I-75. And I'm supposed to give up part of those activities, which I absolutely love and are fulfilling in and of themselves, to find an expensive dress I'll wear for 4 hours? No ma'am. I am so, so thankful that I have a man who understands and respects the fact that I have a life I wish not to devote to planning a wedding, and thus has planned/done a considerable amount on his own to see the day happen. I quite simply don't have time to spend several Saturdays out of my life to search for a wedding gown. And if you've ever been clothing shopping with me (mom), you understand just how irritated and miserable I become after shopping, even for regular, everyday clothes - amplify that, and I'd turn into - yep - feminist bridezilla.

I am fully aware that I'm rejecting tradition, with most parts of my wedding. It's called "transforming" and both Carey (1989) and Kuhn (1962) have explained that concept pretty well. Perfection? It's a myth. I argue it's not really attainable in terms of a wedding ceremony. Isn't the beauty of life in the imperfections? When things don't quite go our way but work out better than what we expected or hoped for in the first place? Originality? It's what I'm going for, with Team Dawmilam Beerfest.

1 comment:

Carol Bruess and Anna Kudak said...

Good for you, LB. June 6 will be a glorious day for feminist bridezillas everywhere. You're amazing.