The XX Factor

Trashing The Dress: A Radical Form of Self-Expression, or Just Totally Obnoxious?

Yesterday, the Today show featured a segment on a new trend for the modern day radical bride: trashing the dress. According to the clip , the cooler brides among us are destroying their wedding dresses post-ceremony, whether through a paintball fight or a four-wheeler ride across swampy grounds, as a form of creative self-expression. One bride, still donning her untouched white satiny number, tells the camera that weddings are so “formal and traditional,” so not her , right before she and her husband dirty up their matrimonial garb in the desert dust. The photographer shooting them points out that it’s “a more creative way to express yourself … in a way you can’t on your wedding day.” And that’s when I got really irritated.

If being a prim, dressed-to-the-nines bride isn’t your “thing,” so to speak, why even have a formal wedding and spend gajillions of dollars on some silky fluff you’re just going to turn around and destroy? If there’s anything worse in my mind than rampant wedding consumerism, it’s intentionally wasteful wedding consumerism. I’d like to think that the women who spend hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars on a wedding dress do it for some sacred reason, not just to burn money.

Over on Jezebel, Sadie was just as annoyed with the segment as I was , and also points out the uniquely Western indulgence of such an act by juxtaposing the trend against a recent article in British Marie Claire about Ugandan brides-to-be, many of whom had been raped, who felt blessed just to be receiving used dresses:

First of all, almost all of the women had been raped by rebels - some held as “wives” - and had thought they’d never marry as a result. Then, having fallen in love, many of the grooms were unable to come up with the traditional dowry, let alone the trappings of a wedding. And planning marriages amidst the chaos and despair of the camp was a challenge that the newly-married Katie Karpik appreciated. They raised the money for a wonderful wedding, and six couples were able to get married - in dresses donated by British women to an organization called Jireh Women. More than 50 gowns and bridesmaids dresses were donated, and Karpik says they’ll continue to use the gowns for future weddings.

Note to brides: You know what would be really rebellious? Not buying into the crazy consumerist patriarchy-fueled rites of a traditional wedding in the first place-say, don’t have a wedding, or don’t wear a dress, if it’s not you. I fail to see how playing radical-Barbie-bride only after reinforcing the admittedly ill-defining cultural traditions of a formal wedding could function as cathartic form of self-expression. Seems more like a copout to me. Then again, when the Today show highlights something as a badass trend, you know it’s about as hardcore as a fly in a glass of Kool-Aid.

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