On Weddings and Women and Weight (oh, my!)

s_bride-dress-200x300

In a week I’m going to be a married lady.

I’m looking forward to the ceremony, and the reception, seeing people I haven’t seen in a while, and getting family members together who haven’t seen each other in a while.

However, I’m not wrapped up in my wedding as if it were some peak of my youth, or a day which will transform me into some new “wifey” creature I have yet to meet. This is despite the (still, in this modern age) drumbeat that weddings are, for young women, as meaningful and final as death (it’s no coincidence that many classic novels featuring women end in marriage or death). Heck, I’ve been living with my fiancee for two years now, we have a mortgage and a cat, it’s not like much will change once we get married.

Marriage ceremonies, for many, center around a fundamental objectification of a woman.  Marriage is the ultimate day of triumph for a lady and her family, and hence much moola is invested in making the day a huge bash, and dressing up the women and their friends, meant to convey that the woman is a valuable, worth-while wife, as our current culture still defines her.

The ritual is, in fact, centered around making the bride appear as if she has high value, within the strictures of how value is defined in our modern times. This is from where the tradition of the parents of the bride paying for the wedding stems (it is a symbol of her dowry, which, most of the time, was the only monetary value with which a woman came into her married life). Also, the appearance of the woman herself must be that of a valuable object. One can’t convey to one’s family that one’s future bride has a math masters and a great singing voice and is kind to children and that is her true value: no, all the family will see is a woman in white, parading her body down an aisle.

Given the current Healthistic trend and the moral value invested in the width of a woman’s hips or the circumference of her upper arm, one can be damn well sure that the sense of the value of the bride will be, for many family members, tied into those numbers. Many a wedding I’ve attended has featured snarking about the bride: “Oh man, she shouldn’t have chosen spaghetti straps, really,” or “Oh man, she’s really spilling out…strapless?” or “I bet they won’t do the garter ceremony with her!” or “She really should have done something about those arms before the wedding.” And so forth.

So much value can be placed in, and so many assumptions can be made, from the appearance of the woman alone. And for many women, it is the one day they will be on display like no other, where all eyes will be on them, eyes of people who do not know much about the bride except how she looks. Given women are aware of how much value is place in their “numbers,” it can make even sensible ladies throw their sense out the window and try that liquid diet, or put their personal lives in jeopardy in order to get another hour at the gym. Even more sensible family members and friends can be sympathetically oppressive, suggesting the bride change her eating habits or exercise, making not-so-subtle hints about the way in which the dress fits. Silence is also telling: your mother and attendant are silent as you model your dress, saying weakly how it looks good, while the mother and attendant of the thinner girl gush about how she could “be in bride magazines,” etc.

30 lbs, the magical amount of weight for any bride-to-be to lose, can turn the lead-up to a wedding from stressful time filled with planning into a veritable nightmare. The day of the wedding the bride, hanging on to her most prized asset — her weight loss — greets friends and families through a starvation-induced haze. For what? So that she is not judged harshly by the possible (probable) bigot in their midst. She reinforces that a woman’s value is tightly wrapped up in the shape and circumference of her body parts, like an animal to be sold to the highest bidder.

What’s the point of this? The point is to bring attention to how harmful and damaging such a “wonderful” day can be for a woman, when it is the day she is told she must treasure as one of the best in her life. In order to be worthy of such a day, she is told, she must starve, sweat, whittle down, and loathe her body. The sum of a sufficient amount of torture and self-loathing, she is told, is one day she can rest on her laurels, since she will find her self-worth — at long last — in the approving gaze of strangers.

5 comments on “On Weddings and Women and Weight (oh, my!)

  1. angrygrayrainbows says:

    Ooooo… awesome post! I will be getting married in August… and I’ve felt the cultural pressure in regards to the things you’ve posted about. It is really validating to see it all broken down in ways I haven’t considered myself!
    However, I am proud to say that losing weight for my wedding never crossed my mind and from the beginning. Yay me! I cannot imagine the stress of planning a wedding while at the same time dealing with the malnourishment of a diet. Meh. No fun at all!
    Congrats on your upcoming wedding!!!!

  2. fatchic says:

    Many congratulations, and yes, awesome post. I’m getting married for the second time in December (I guess I’m a little slow on the uptake.) While I do feel that my wedding has spiritual, personal meaning to myself and my fiancee, I’m still troubled with the expectation that I put on a show for my friends and family. My feelings for my man are very private to us, and while we’re doing a small wedding with his and my immediate family, it still bothers me that something so sacred should be made a spectacle of at all.

  3. blablover5 says:

    It’s incredibly depressing to hear “commentary” later on pictures from the bride herself on how she should have spent even more time trying to get her body into some predetermined shape all so the pictures would look better.

    Ugh.

    It is kinda funny in a sad way how many times I saw women about to get married go off on the honeymoon and go off the strict diet only to come back a few months later and declare they were “bad” and had to go back on a diet. So it’s like anymore you can’t even be that one small size for one day but once you get down there you have to maintain it for the rest of your life.

    On a whole nother topic good luck with the wedding BL! Did you have any luck with the organic cotton dress? I’d see some every now and again and think of you.

  4. meowser says:

    Congratulations, you! I hope it’s a beautiful day for you. I’m sure it will be.

    I can’t fathom the 30-pound thing either. When I was off antidepressants for a couple of years, I lost about 20 pounds. NOBODY NOTICED. (And I sure wasn’t gonna bring it up!) I doubt they would have noticed another 10, either.

  5. bigliberty says:

    Thanks for the congrats! I can’t believe it’s tomorrow, eeeek! ;)

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s