The Bad Feminist’s Wedding

After my last post, where I talked about having a ‘good feminist’ wedding, this is the post where I confess to all my anti-feminist wedding sins. Only kidding. Well, kind of.

 

The Dress

It’s white. Or ivory, or whatever you want to call it. Apparently when it comes to weddings white is never just white.

The white dress is part of the traditional wedding ritual. Unlike the man in his sombre suit, the woman’s wedding outfit cries out for attention. It’s a big stand-out reminder that women, more than men, are still judged more on what they look like than on who they are. Not only is the bride’s wedding day no exception to this rule, it is the epitome of this rule.

So why on earth am I wearing a white dress?

Because I want to.

It’s as simple as that. I looked at navy blue, red and gold, but nothing I saw had the x-factor I wanted. It may not stand up to militant feminist scrutiny, but I want to feel stunning on my wedding day, and a white dress helps me to feel that way. In fact, let me be very unfeminine (it’s very unfeminine to brag, after all) and just come out with it: I feel beautiful in my dress.

Whether or not that’s the result of a patriarchal ideal I’ve been brainwashed with, that’s the way it is. I know this isn’t a fantastic treatise on the moral ins and outs of wearing a white wedding dress, but it’s all you’re going to get from me today.

Oh, and I’m also going to be wearing a veil. Because it’s the veil my Mum wore to her wedding, because it looks fab, and because when else do you get to wear a crazy long bit of white tulle or organza?

I questioned whether wearing the white dress and veil was the right thing to do, using my feminist lens on life, and ultimately decided to go for it. I honestly don’t believe that incorporating these traditional wedding elements into our wedding day makes me a ‘bad’ feminist.

 

Looking My Best

Since I told a colleague about my bridezilla freak-out a few weeks ago (the tailor cut my dress too short – disaster) it seems that the whole office knows that I’m getting married soon. This week someone I’ve never even spoken to before asked me “Did you get your dress fixed?”

Of course, I know that Looking My Best is important on 24th April. And just because I’m having a small wedding and haven’t bought the back catalogue of Brides magazine doesn’t mean I’m immune to the Looking My Best pressure. Early on in the process I hired a personal trainer to whip me into shape. To get that ‘glowing’ complexion I scheduled in monthly facial treatments and even cut back on caffeine. (Well, okay, maybe just for a bit).

Not forgetting the make-up trial and pre-wedding mani, pedi and waxing. The whole Looking My Best palaver doesn’t come cheap you know. And that’s just to start with. I haven’t even got on to the shoes, jewellery, ‘wedding underwear’ (yup, that’s a thing) and hair accessory. Whatever you do, don’t ask me about the preposterous amount I spent on that.

 

What I’m saying is that just because I’m someone who believes in the equality of men and women doesn’t mean I feel the need to abolish every wedding tradition. Of course I can see how some people might view the things I’ve mentioned here as brainwashing by a patriarchal society. But I’m an educated woman with a feminist lens on life and these are my choices. And maybe that’s what feminism is all about.

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2 thoughts on “The Bad Feminist’s Wedding

  1. Snooping guest says:

    I really enjoy your blog Bel, I really identify with some early posts, and I’d love to have the drive to also write about some of the questions you raise, not to mention to write as beautifully.
    Two things:
    1) I really hope Liam is going to similar lengths for your wedding. Would welcome a post on Liam’s perspective! My boyfriend would be very alarmed if I started having facials for our wedding, for instance. Or a PT for any other goal than to look and feel better generally, and keep up with him better on our “life adventures” rather than look toned on one day.
    2) Liam is (surely!) marrying you for your brain, and you his. Which are both no doubt large and functioning superbly. That’s ultimately why you’re marrying, right? Hope you don’t lose sight of that.

    The sad part of this article for me is, I’ll get married at some point (I’ve had some rocks on my finger for a while), and much like a trashy bridal magazine or beauty magazine, your blog post has started to make me wonder if my “beauty standards” need revising upwards.

    Am I rebelling against the standards to which women are measured by, and which I think contribute to holding us back, or just lazy, or pro-unconventional? Is slapping on some concealer and eye makeup for my wedding not enough? The thought of a virginal *insert another word for white* bridal dress makes me squirm.

    Like

    • @TheWritingHalf says:

      Hi, thanks for your comment! Gosh, I could write a whole additional post in response…

      I’ll see if Liam would be up for writing a post. I guess the fact that I want to look my best for our wedding day doesn’t alarm me or Liam; we both do, and we’re both putting a lot of effort into looking good, from choosing our outfits, to trying extra hard with treating our bodies well (particularly good nutrition and a regular exercise routine). So he’s not worried about the facials!

      The PT sessions are definitely a part of me generally looking after my health, but it’s an expense I wouldn’t usually justify to myself. The whole ‘looking my best for the wedding’ expectation (coming from me, mainly, rather than others) means I can justify certain health and beauty sessions I wouldn’t otherwise.

      Liam and I are putting a lot of attention into our ‘marriage’ – as opposed to our ‘wedding’. So, for example, researching strong marriages and looking at ways we can incorporate the take-aways from our research into our marriage. Don’t worry, the marriage is the important bit for us, and the wedding is just the first step. (That’s partly why we’re not having a big, fancy do and are just keeping it small and simple on the day).

      I’m truly sorry my blog post made you question your “beauty standards”. Whilst I’ve fallen into society’s trap of stressing about my appearance, I don’t wish that on anyone else. Stressing about my appearance is not just a “wedding” issue for me – it’s a part of my life. The fact I’ve had low self-esteem and body/eating issues for over a decade is partly as a result of the societal pressures I feel, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

      I guess I intended to say that although I’ve made a choice to do it one way, the point of feminism is that we DO have a choice. Who cares if you don’t want to wear much – or any – make up on your wedding day? I see a wedding as an introduction to a strong, lifelong relationship. A face full of slap doesn’t seem all that relevant to that, after all. But if you want to get dolled up, why not?

      Finally – the white dress. As I say, I umm-ed and ahh-ed over this but ultimately decided that ‘white’ doesn’t symbolise ‘virginal’ to me. I simply think my white dress is beautiful. If I’d found a red/black/blue/insert-colour-here dress that I felt as beautiful in, I would have bought that instead. As I say, that may be a result of society’s brainwashing, but I did give it thought and decided that I’m a strong woman who knows her own mind enough to decide that – in spite of (not because of) society’s expectation that a bride should wear white on her wedding day – I still wanted to. Hope that gives a bit of clarity! Thanks again for your comment.

      Like

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