Ladies, you deserve to flaunt your symbolic virginity on your Special Day. Vera says so.
Isn’t that more: “Every bride deserves to wear off-white with a black flower of death around her waist”?
Wearing white was originally a display of wealth not (supposed) virginity so that actually makes sense give the cost of her dresses.
1) This girl looks like someone just kicked her puppy and drowned her kitten … not like she’s about to marry her chosen partner.
2) If there’s a wedding in my future, I plan (in the words of P.T. Barnum) “to put a little color into this campaign” and wear crimson and gold and kelly green and violet. What can I say: bright colors make me happy.
@Kate: Just about every source I’ve read says that white wedding gowns were chosen as “a connotation of innocence and sexual purity.” (Howard, Vicky (2006). Brides Inc.: American Weddings and the Business of Tradition. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.) Not surprising given that it’s a tradition that started in the Victorian era.
I’ve also heard numerous comparisons between the white of christening gowns for infants and little girls’ first communion gowns, which both basically look like mini-wedding dresses. It’s all about symbolic purity and innocence.
@annajcook: I heartily endorse a wedding coat of many colors!
And yeah, to me the bride in the picture looks sort of teary and zonked out, like she’s been hit with some horse tranquilizers.
@ BeckySharper – Really? That’s not what I’ve read. From what I’ve read it did start in the Victorian era with Queen Victoria’s dress. Women used to get married in their “best” whatever that happened to be because most people couldn’t afford to only wear something once. Lighter colors showed wealth because they stained easier and were harder to clean thus showing that you could afford to wear a dress only a few times and pay someone to clean it for you. Then the queen got married in a white dress and that became the ultimate status symbol.
In the judeo-christian tradition blue was the color most associated with virgin purity which is why the Virgin Mary’s cloak is usually trimmed with blue in paintings (and that probably comes from the history of Jewish brides trimming their wedding clothes with blue ribbon as a symbol of their purity).
Of course this doesn’t in any way preclude white from quickly morphing into meaning purity, especially in America where we seem to be obsessed with that.
fuck me I so wish I had worn a bright red dress to my wedding.
Why didn’t I do that like I imagined I would? Wait, I know why. It’s the difference between brave me in my head and real me in my life.
@Kate: But don’t you think today the whole point of the white dress today is commonly accepted to be purity/innocence/newness? No one in Western culture wears blue as a sign of purity these days, and brides today don’t wear white to flaunt their wealth.
Hell, neither do debutantes, who always have to show up in white dresses as a sign of their newness and purity. Same goes for girls at those dreadful “purity balls.”
She also appears to be about 12 years old in that shot. Nice to see that they’re bringing back child marriage…
I made a compromise with my dress. It’s a white bodice with a colored skirt. Figured I can give both sides of the family what they want…
In a weird way, I appreciate the inclusivity of “every bride.” They’re not saying only virgins need apply. And I remember Ann Landers or someone saying that we could reimagine white to represent the purity of a couple’s love, or the purity of their intentions. But still, there’s the old purity thing.
@funnyface: Yeah, still the old purity thing, and obvs, the fact you’d have to “reimagine” means…the original meaning’s still culturally prevalent.
Although I’d love an ad that just came right out and said something like “You’re never too slutty to wear white!”
Wow, that “bride” sure does look happy…
I wore an emerald green dress for my wedding. It matched my emerald engagement ring. Alas, it was the only thing in my wedding that I was brave enough to put my foot down on. (I didn’t change my name either, but I don’t consider that part of the wedding.)
I don’t really know what to say about the ad though.
Yes, the white dress originally was just an imitation of Queen Victoria’s dress, because I guess every bride wants to be a queen on their wedding day. The purity meaning was tacked on after the fact. Considering that the vast majority of wedding dresses are white and the majority of brides are not virgins, I’m not sure the connotation is quite the same anymore. My sister wore a white dress, and her daughter was at the wedding.
I’ll take on another aspect of this ad… the DESERVES part. Sorry, but that’s just part of the ad machine that tells women “go ahead, you DESERVE IT! Spend money, you DESERVE IT!”. Like women need some omniscient ad-voice to tell them what is OK to “give in to” to purchase. Like it’s not ok for women to just say “hey, I’m buying that”, it has to be some whole internal denial, giving in struggle.
Dang, that woman must be one hard-core feminist if the patriarchy needed that many tranquilizers to get her in that dress.
@Ms. M – arguably it should be a struggle for most people to spend several grand on one article of clothing…
But I take your general point.
I wasn’t anything about purchasing a wedding dress, just ad voices on the theme of deserving things. I see how it seemed I was making a point about the dress though.
Personally, I think the WIC pushing women to spend large amounts on a one-time dress is outrageous. This ad is just one more example of it.
@Danika the Lesbrarian: The “you can only wear white if you’re a virgin” thing is still alive and well in many areas.
I had been previously married. A year after my previous marriage, I was vaguely planning out a wedding to my then-fiancé. I went to a few dress shops to browse wedding gowns with my mother.
She told me point-blank, in a furtive whisper in the middle of the store, that it was “inappropriate” for me to even consider anything white, because white represents purity and virginity. When I took a white gown into the dressing room anyway, she looked scandalized.
The relationship with the guy ended, making the whole thing a moot point, but I still remember how *dirty* I felt because I let her get to me.
I’m Pagan now, and if I ever make a life-long commitment to anyone, I’d like to have a simple, outdoor hand-fasting. I’d probably wear green, for the Earth.
Yeah, Skada, I’ve been to more than a few weddings where people have nudge-nudged each other and said of the bride: “I dont’ know why she’s wearing white! HUR HUR!”
The “white is for virgins” stereotype is definitely still alive and well, even if the reality is that the brides are almost never actually virginal.
Yeah, Skada, I got that from a family friend when I told her I was going to wear a green dress. She was scandalized and insisted that I should wear white so no one would talk or assume I was knocked up. I told her white was meaningless given all the white maternity gowns and celebrities on their second+ marriages wearing white. Her rebuttal was but people will talk like they wouldn’t make comments like Becky overheard anyway given how long we’d been dating. That person is no longer a friend acutally, and I kind of think that my wedding had something to do with it.
When I got married, I didn’t have much of a choice in what I wore (I was in my husband’s conservative Kazakh hometown where older people decide things, and my imperfect grasp of local languages meant conversations whizzed by my head a lot). I liked what I ended up in, though–a khalat, or southern Kazakhstani women’s traditional everyday outfit, which in this case resembled an embroidered red velvet bathrobe with a waist tie and matching somewhat slim-cut yoga-like pants. Also a headscarf and about four layers of clothing underneath because my mother-in-law is a worrywart and part of the ceremony was outside with a spring breeze blowing. The red color was to ward off the evil eye, something essential for brides. I think people generally hoped I was a virgin (ha!) but were too polite to ask. I’m kind of glad we had the ceremony there, because I could never decide what color to wear to my hypothetical American wedding–all the choices seem so loaded and it was hard for me to separate personal desire from cultural conditioning.
VaS – I wore a green dressing too. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the shitstorm (sorry for the language) that I thought it was going to be. My family was overwhelming supportive. Then again they are by no means a normal family so that might have something to do with it.
When I was planning, I learned the same as Kate that white originally symbolized wealth, but now I definitely think it’s more of the virginity stereotype than anything else. It’s sad that the stereotype is still so common these days. I also didn’t wear a veil for a similar reason. I dislike the implication of the husband taking ownership of the wife with the whole lifting-of-the-veil situation. Also, most veils are ridiculously ugly.
foureleven – I was expecting more shit over the dress too. Besides the one woman, it never materialized. Also, we must be long lost twins, I wouldn’t wear a veil either.
Sorry for the threadjack.
@foureleven: Ugh, veils. They’re usually ugly and tend to get in the way.
One of the pre-wedding customs in Orthodox Judaism is called the “badeken”, where the groom, his family and usually the bride’s family and rabbi come to where the bride is sequestered, and the groom veils the bride with the veil she’ll wear throughout the ceremony. It’s meant to ensure that he’s getting the bride he wants and that no one will pull a fast one on him by switching brides, as Laban did with Jacob in the book of Genesis. Nowadays the veil is usually just tulle and you can see the bride perfectly well, but if you ever go to an ultra-Orthodox wedding, the veil is so thick as to render the bride completely unrecognizeable. It’s such a “woman as chattel” custom, I can’t even…ugh.
Btw, the Talmud specifically interprets the veil as a symbol of virginity (building on the Torah’s examples of veiling as a form of modesty).
I’ve always thought that if I get married I would have a nice rockabilly cut dress made with a cherry print fabric, like this: http://ny-image2.etsy.com/il_fullxfull.150628858.jpg
Because symbolic meaning is fun to play with.
If I ever bother getting married (I mean, really, I’m not sure what the advantages are over long-term committed partnership?), I think I’ll do it at a registry office – NOT wearing white, because the virginity connotations are bullshit – and throw a great big party afterwards. No veils involved.
The virginity connotations are bullshit, but so is telling folks they can’t wear white because they AREN’T virginal. Eff all of it, wear whatever the hell you want on your wedding day. I won’t be wearing white because it makes me look like death, not because I feel slut-shamed for not being a virgin.
[Hello. I don't usually curse so much in my first comments on a site. I'll be more polite in the future. :D]
I felt compelled to be honest at our wedding, so I wore off-white, to indicate slightly soiled goods.
@Danika: oh, your sister must have had a virgin birth then! *grin*
@Kate: off topic, but when you talk about the virgin Mary, the term “Judeo-Christian” is jarring. In fact, there is no such thing as a Judeo-Christian anything. Christians use the term to indicate that their tradition is built on Judaism, but it’s not consistent with Judaism. Jews use it to make nice and indicate respect for Christians and Christianity, but no educated Jew would use that term to mean anything substantive.
I’ve never seen or heard of the blue thing at Jewish weddings. Has anyone else? It is a tradition to have a blue thread in a tallit as the Torah requires, though.
@Becky: so true about Orthodox weddings. The other really creepy thing is that brides are completely silent throughout the ceremony. It’s just chilling.
I wore “off-white” too. Our ceremony was set in a restored Victorian mansion, and the wedding party all wore Victorian costumes, so I guess in hindsight the color of my dress was historically appropriate. Neat! The best man looked a hell of a lot like Oscar Wilde, too–it was really funny. I loathe the wedding industry on principle. Every couple should feel free to decide what they do or don’t want in their wedding ceremony, and their friends and relatives should just smile politely and go along with it.
@ bellacoker: Love it! With bright red pumps!
I wore a red dress. It was wonderful. And a little scandalous in the small southern-ish town we live in.
@annajcook: “This girl looks like someone just kicked her puppy and drowned her kitten … not like she’s about to marry her chosen partner.” I didn’t think she looked all that thrilled about wearing white.
Regarding the whole virgin/purity subject, my first dread when I saw the picture was that it was going to be an abstince ad.
Mail (will not be published) (required)
Choosing Your Choice
Fat Is A Feminist Issue
Great Male Narcissists
Theory and Practice
Things That Are Awesome
Violence against women and girls
Work Administrative Professionals Day (2)
Anonymous Prosecutor (4)
Culcha Vulcha (53)
Discussion Time (9)
Feminist Food for Thought (54)
Friday Fun Thread (95)
Guest Post (49)
Harpy Book Club (64)
Harpy Cinematical Society (19)
Harpy Droppings (2)
Harpy Hall of Fame (27)
Harpy Periodical (3)
Harpy Seminar (29)
Harpy Shout-out (63)
Harpy Televisual Society (4)
Help Me Harpies! (20)
Honorary Harpies (18)
International Museum of Women (1)
Language Matters (25)
Let's Talk Images (5)
Morning Snark (49)
Poetry Saturdays (6)
Reader Request (17)
Retro Pleasures (13)
Solo Flying (66)
Thursday Night Trivia (11)
Wednesday Whiplash (1)
You Have Got To Be Fucking Kidding Me (138)
WP Cumulus Flash tag cloud by Roy Tanck and Luke Morton requires Flash Player 9 or better.