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How to have a “feminist wedding”: complain about “the patriarchy” and don’t shave your legs

October 31, 2013

Tracy Clark-Flory of Salon expresses horror that she ended up with a white wedding dress and high heels:

Bride Clark-Flory: OMG, a white dress!

One of the first things I told my fiancé after we got engaged was, “I am not wearing a fucking white dress.”

Fast-forward to now, mere days before the wedding, and I am wearing a fucking white dress. That isn’t all. I spent hundreds of dollars on makeup and makeovers. I purchased multiple pairs of sparkly high-heeled shoes that left me limping after trying them on. I crash-dieted. I bought a pair of Spanx, a modern girdle (a contradiction in terms if there ever was one).

This is how it was supposed to be:

As a little girl, my dad praised me for climbing in creeks, kissing banana slugs and having a good frisbee throw, not for my ability to look cute. When I started wearing makeup, high heels and perfume in high school he rolled his eyes and called it a waste of time. “I think what makes a woman attractive is her brain,” he would say. My mom was evidence of this: She was often bare-faced and focused on comfort, not fashion.

By the end of college, I was convinced that makeup, leg shaving and high heels were tools of the patriarchy. I would make such proclamations with an ironic self-mocking grin (but actually, no, seriously, it is the patriarchy). And yet, I participated anyway. It was one thing to think these things, it was another to live them. Really, what it came down to was that I wanted male attention more than I wanted to live by my intellectual principles.

So, I resentfully applied makeup and hobbled around in heels that sent me to a podiatrist — until I found my person. Then it was comfortable shoes and an incredibly lazy leg-shaving routine.

But then, Clark-Flory succumbed to “the tyranny of the wedding industry:

All of the everyday personal battles I successfully won in my late 20s were suddenly undone. I found myself turning to women’s magazines for makeup tricks and hairstyles as I once had as an insecure teen. The cosmetic counter goons talked me into makeovers and facials — and bags full of products that I will never actually use. I listened to their girlfriend-y pitches and thought, “Why yes, I do think that a $125 makeup brush set sounds sensible” or “Gosh, this $60 under-eye cream seems essential.” They drew me diagrams of all the ways I could use bronzer and blush and highlighter to define the contours on my face, and I paid them rapt attention, as though they were sketching out the ends of the universe.

So now she’s conflicted:

I feel decidedly un-feminist when I wear shoes that hinder my movement and work to deform my feet; when I shave my legs and suffer the resulting nicks, and sometimes scars, and ingrown hairs; when I wear a garment that makes breathing — and moving and living — difficult, all in the interest of maintaining unrealistic standards of femininity; when I contemplate wearing a white dress, traditionally meant to represent virginity, on my wedding day.

But she hasn’t completely compromised her feminist principles:

I’m not changing my last name. My dad is not walking me down the aisle. I won’t be throwing a bouquet for all the single ladies.

What I want to know is: What kind of guy would want to marry a feminist? I’d love to see a photo of Clark-Flory’s fiance.


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