I subscribe to Marie Claire magazine. I had a whole bunch of expiring frequent flyer points and no plans to travel, so used them to subscribe to Marie Claire, Harper's Baazar, W, and The Economist. I have yet to actually read The Economist, but I like that it comes to our house with my name on the front.
I like Marie Claire. In this issue, I got to read a pre break-down interview with Demi Moore as well as a semi-fluffy profile of Nikki Haley (Republican South Carolina governor, possible 2016 presidential nominee). I also got to see some pretty clothes on some pretty people. It's generally a win-win. Sure, the 'money matters' section did offer the tip that marrying for money is 'then' and being your own breadwinner is 'now'. (Their definition of 'now' is apparently pretty flexible.) I had to read the article about the amazing autistic artist who wasn't diagnosed for some time because autism is more easily diagnosed in males (due to social preconceptions) to avoid throwing the magazine.
The second to last article in this issue (Feb 2012) is called Single Bridezillas. Here's a sample:
... Ruth, a 38-year-old Barnard graduate [ed: is this Marie Claire code for lesbian? It's not clear] turned lawyer, is actively planning her wedding despite the fact that she's single. "When I was 22, I bought two ring settings: one for a large diamond and a backup setting for a smaller diamond," she says. "I've also purchased a vintage wedding gown... My dream is to have a wedding as magical as - don't laugh - the one in Twilight: Breaking Dawn.... I feel pressured to get engaged, and it makes me fantasize about the kind of wedding I want someday."
Twilight reference aside (I haven't seen the movie and for all I know the wedding is breathtaking and the woman isn't just a big Edward fan), I found this entire statement heartbreaking. Here is a presumably successful woman who is spending time actively purchasing things for a wedding to a person that she has not yet met. Of all of the goals she could be planning towards, that is one that she feels strongly enough about to be quoted in a magazine.
Further along in the article, the author mentions a board on the website TheKnot.com, a wedding planning website.
The board is called 'Not Engaged Yet'.
This was the point at which I sputteringly read this whole thing out loud to Crockett. I finished with, "It's just so sad that the wedding industrial complex is profitting from these woman who are socially cued to think this is the most important thing they can be doing."
Crocket said, "Wedding Industrial Complex?"
I explained that weddings are a ~$160 billion/year business, we moved on, and I opened up The Knot to search for the message board. Sure enough, it exists, and is basically what it purports to be - a place for women who are not engaged but want to plan their weddings to chat with and support each other. (Today they also seemed to be really into cutting a hole in a piece of bread and sticking a cat's head through it as well, which doesn't really help counteract any single lady stereotypes, but to each her own.)
I don't blame these women for wanting what they want. Not knowing the details of their situations, I can't even blanket them with the assumption that the WIC, with some help from Disney, made them this way.
I once read that the average woman thinks about her weight and what she has and should do to affect that weight several times per hour. Accordingly, the average woman is hungry more often than the average man, because she is aware of the impact of consumption. The article suggested that women, overall, would be more successful if they could stop stressing about being fat. (Problematic, yes, but not the topic at hand.)
If that is in fact even sort of true, what does planning a wedding that isn't an actual wedding doing? I have known women while they worked with their fiances to plan weddings, and it's serious business. Even if you're doing it without a deadline, it can't be easy. Is it a hobby, like knitting, or is it an actual distraction from the things they could be doing?
People of my generation are getting married later and less frequently, and the Marie Claire article suggests that now that marriage is a 'choice' for woman, we've romanticized it more than ever before. If that's the case, though, where are the 'not engaged yet' marriage boards for men? Weddings have always been in the bride's domain, and whether that's right or not, a wedding is clearly not about marriage if the plan is in place before the groom is identified.
Along with a perfect body, a perfect wedding seems to be something that we, as young(ish) woman, are told we should have; and apparently we're going after it, even if we're missing that crucial detail of who is on the end of the aisle.