Thursday, June 19, 2008

Princess for a day?

When I was a kid, I desperately wanted my mom to buy me an elaborate princess gown to wear for Halloween. I’m talking about the kind of gown adults buy when they’re really serious about period costumes – I would have liked nothing better than to trick-or-treat as a genuine Renaissance princess. The pink polyester gown and plastic tiara I got kept me reasonably happy, but I still looked with longing at the top-quality costumes at The Wizard’s Chest (a local costume and game store, one of my favorite places in the whole world) and fantasized about receiving that deep red princess gown as a surprise early birthday present.

And now, or so I’m told, I have the chance to fulfill my childhood princess fantasies. Every woman’s a princess on her wedding day! But for some reason, the word “princess” in conjunction with my wedding doesn’t fill me with excitement. In fact, it kind of pisses me off, and I’m not sure why. The only thing that makes me even more uncomfortable is hearing someone call the wedding “[my] special day.” When I read on a vendor’s website a phrase like “We want to make sure your special day is as perfect as you always dreamed it would be,” my skin crawls.

I think I react this way because as an adult, I find the “princess”/“special day” stuff infantilizing. It sounds like something you’d say to a little kid on her birthday: “Hi, princess! Guess what? It’s your special day!” I’m a woman getting married, darn it, not a five-year-old playing dress-up.

I feel like I’m in the minority in my feelings towards being a princess on my wedding day, though. On one bridal message board I’ve visited, dozens of women gush about “feeling like a princess” in their wedding dresses. Tiaras seem to rival veils as the wedding headgear of choice. And Disney does a huge business in weddings – they even have a ridiculously overpriced line of wedding gowns inspired by Disney Princesses, and you can hire Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage and stay in Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Clearly, this “princess” thing is hitting a nerve for a lot of women. (But what about their husbands?)

That kind of plastic fantasy sounds incredibly UNromantic to me. It’s not that I’m anti-Disney – I will freely confess to loving Disney animated movies. (I can sing most of the score to “Beauty & the Beast” from memory.) But I don’t want to pretend to be some fantasy princess on my wedding day. I just want to be me, marrying the man I love.


Anonymous said...

love the light pink gown. what can I say, I'm a sucker for white with some sort of sheen...gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

oops, posted in the wrong post.

Anyway: I agree with you entirely--there's a kind of infantilization of women by the bridal industry. It's all very sugary sweet and objectionable. The grooms, accessories that they are, are standing aside, aghast.

It must not be very profitable to treat women like sober adults.

Bride in Exile said...

What's really disturbing is how thoroughly some brides buy into this fairytale wedding thing.

On one message board, I read a post by a bride who said "I've always dreamed of looking like a princess on my wedding day" but was crushed -- CRUSHED!! -- when she saw Glamor's Dos and Don'ts of Weddings on TV. Why? Well, they said petite women shouldn't wear ballgowns, and this bride is 5'0. "They ruined my dream!"

Okay. First, you're giving up a lifelong dream because a Glamor Magazine TV special told you to? Second, your lifelong dream is to wear a big poofy princess dress? I have nothing against the big poofy dresses -- they're not my style, but to each her own. But shouldn't a woman old enough to pledge her life to another person have a slightly more interesting lifelong dream?