Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rage Against the Bridal Industry

Sometimes is it a miracle that I have not researched how to plant a pipe bomb in an empty bridal shop.  

There are few things I loathe in this life, but one of them is the hell that is mainstream weddings.

Now, I'm not talking marriage or civic unions, or love ceremonies.  I am talking about the bullshit bridal party, decorations, and dresses, manicures, colors, flowers, cake, bridesmaid coordinated colors that drive me insane.

It's not something I blog about often because it's so trivial, but with this latest debacle, I may take this issue on full force because of what it does to womyn's self esteem and body image.

I'm in a wedding this Saturday and while it is not my favorite thing to do to get trussed up in heels and curl my hair, the bride is a loved one and I'm honored to be her friend.  I ordered my dress and, low and behold, after size 14 or something, you have a $50 charge for extra cloth.  I ask, oh?  do you charge an arbitrary $20 charge when you have a person who needs a size 10 because they need more material than a size 2.  "No, there's no charge for a size 10."

Oh, I see.  So, because the bust is too small, never mind that I'll be swimming in the rest of it, I have to shell out more money because someone decided that womyn over an arbitrary number require "more resources?"

And it's not my whole body, it's just a part of my body - my breasts.  My lovely brown round globes of beauty, pleasure, life, abundance, and gift.  My breasts.  Apparently, they're too large for this dress and I have to pay extra because my body isn't uniformly distributed the way this all white bridal shop measures "normal" figures.

I wait the proverbial three months for the damn dress to arrive.  All the while, I am sweating, worrying, wondering what is wrong with ME.  Why, for the (not exaggerating) 9th time, I am forced to pay more for my breasts to be in another wedding.  I can't count how many arguments I've had with brides to convince them to let their bridesmaid choose a simple black dress they feel confident in and they can reuse.  I can't count how many conversations I've engaged with bridal shop consultants, telling them it's a ruthless discrimination against heavier womyn to charge them more their dresses.

A wedding.  Is it worth it to have everyone wear the same color when inside many of them are made to feel wrong for their bodies?

The dress arrives.

Surprise, surprise, it doesn't fit!  I have to wrap the dress around me like a towel.  It won't even hold up anywhere on my body.

While I am hanging onto the dress for dear life because it is about to slip to the floor with customers around, the alterations woman had the audacity to proclaim, "Your body is so big!  What happened?"  I stared at myself in the mirror, wanting to be better than the situation and not let it affect me.  

But I'm human.  I'm so very human and can't be dissected any more.  After months of struggling with body comments in the Philippines (Americans are GIANTS in many parts of the world), my wall of reason and retort collapsed.

I cried over the steering wheel in my car.

When I went back for the dress the alterations women informed me, "This is a big job, we have to really size down this dress.  It'll probably be another $100."

I cried inside.  My unemployed ass is feeling it.

There you have it.  I, training for my first road race, running to be a healthier womyn; lost 25lbs and am dropping weight not for weight but for health, to kick diabetes in the ass and tenderly care for my heart and rallying for a healthy pregnancy someday - am charged more for my larger boobs and then pay more to have it taken it all the while am told am TOO BIG.

The bridal industry makes billions for making everyday womyn feel less and too much and charges them to make them fit a "dress" or have the "dress" fit you.  But it's much more than a dress.  It's a costly uniformity to match other womyn who feel less then who they are because of a damn wring of cloth.  The vultures in this industry don't care what it costs you or what it does to your insides.  They care that you pay and will do all things possible to push you against a wall with an arbitrary chart nailed to said wall so they can measure you, coerce you, tsk tsk at your body.

It's more than bullshit.  It's dead wrong.

Fuck the bridal industry.

I picked the dreaded but gorgeous dress up today and tried it on for my final fitting.  It [now] fits perfectly and I love how I look on the outside.  Inside, I feel like shit and my wallet is empty.  How else can I say this: IT'S NOT WORTH IT.

The owner of the shop gave it to me and while I was gathering the nerve to say something of how a rude tailor has driven away my business, more customers came in the door.  I stood there, paralyzed, wanting to say something but unsure of how to say it.  

My sweaty grip on the plastic covered the dress was fading I tried to focus on my words and say what I so desperately wanted to communicate: YOU DON'T MAKE COMMENTS ABOUT PEOPLE'S BODIES WHEN YOU DON'T KNOW THEIR MEDICAL HISTORY.  If you know nothing about what someone has been through, what scars mean, how size, how little, how disappeared, how big, how crooked, how asymetrical things are - YOU SAY NOTHING or ask if you are genuinely curious about someone's story.  Ask out of kindness, never assumption.

My body is and has a been a battleground of health both physical and mental.  It's been a lovely developing playground and heaven for me.  As I age, I've learned how to honor it, keep it, and worship it with healthy living and sleep.

Bodies are sacred - how hard of a concept is that to grasp?

I ended up grabbing the business card and flashed her a look that said, "Oh don't worry, you'll be hearing from me."


  1. Bravo to this post!

    It also infuriates me how hard it is to go to a shop and try on dresses when they only carry one or two in tiny sizes and you just have to GUESS whether or not it will fit and then pay more for alterations.

    I can almost never go into a store and buy something that fits off the rack when they have every size for me to try on, and now I'm expected to just guess at expensive formal wear?

    And don't get me started on how the dresses are all "made small" and you have to get it in a much bigger size than you would have imagined. Even the most self-confident person can be destroyed by bridal shopping.

    It. Sucks.

  2. ^throws up.

    That is disgusting.
    I'm SO sorry you had to go through that, and I'm sure what hurts even more is that this is for a good friend. Just to make this easier on her, you don't say a thing.

    ^shakes head. I never wanna have a wedding.
    -cat m.

  3. Anonymous1:35 AM

    That's horrible :( I'm sorry you had to go through that, although I hear experiences like yours are not ... uncommon ... in the bridal industry, which is after all an image/experience-based industry. It's shitty all around and you'd still think that people would be able to be decent human beings about it, but no.

    Feh. When I do get around to having a vow renewal ceremony (already did the courthouse shotgun marriage deal, so apparently I can't call it a "wedding" per se) I fully plan on letting people wear whatever the hell they're comfortable wearing. It's just too much fuss otherwise and really, in ten twenty fifty years who wants to look back at the photos and gawp at the ugly bridal party outfits? Except maybe your grankids, who'll get a laugh out of it all. Feh again.

  4. a) fuck anybody who makes you cry, for any reason, unless it's from being overwhelmed with happiness

    b) I hate that there is no way to say "but but you're BEAUTIFUL so what the fuck!!!" without it inherently including the implication that it would somehow make more sense for people to be horrible like this if you were not beautiful, which also implies that there's an arbitrary definition of who's beautiful and that some people just aren't

    c) I don't know. It just seems like a fuller list with three points instead of two.

  5. I'm with the "stick two fingers up at traditional weddings and do it your way" crowd. If more people did that the wedding biz would lose so much of their entirely artificial power.

    I got married in church but dispensed with white dress, bridesmaids, car, bouquets, gift lists and all that junk. We just stood up in the regular Sunday morning service, got married and sat down again, then we had a big party for all our friends and neighbours afterwards. Brilliant. That was 23 years ago, and I'd recommend it to anyone.


Hey there,
Before you leave a comment, just remember two things:
1. You are taking responsibility for a public comment
2. Anything that resembles racism, homophobia, classism, ableism, or anything based from religion, citizenship, or ethnic bias - don't bother commenting, you'll be deleted.