When I was planning my wedding and going on a dress hunt, I ended up calling this reputable bridal boutique in my city. On the phone, the saleslady diligently informed me on the whole procedure – because buying a gown is serious business. She also told me that there is a 3 person maximum on the day of the fitting. "OK, no biggie" I said. "I'm anyway planning to come alone". Pause right there. All of a sudden she told me that in that case, she'll have to charge me extra “because in our experience women cannot make such an important decision on their own and they end up not making any purchases”. For real?!
So I am able to enter into a committed relationship that’s supposed to last a lifetime, but I’m incapable of deciding on a piece of clothing that is only worn for six hours and paid by my effing self? Jeez. Talking about putting things into perspective. Needless to say that felt my blood boil and so I hung up on this lady before I would say anything that I'd regret later. It's there and then, that I realized that that it’s not just bad temper that turns women into “bridezillas”, but the bridal industry and generally the one-sided representation of women in media. All of these TV bridal shows are no so innocent after all. They actually have a massive impact on how women perceive themselves and vice versa, how society views us. In these bridal programs, women are often depicted as self-centered, materialistic and irrational creatures.
Evidently, the ‘bridezilla’ represents a specific female archetype and there are a number of those in our society: the girl next door, femme fatale, the it girl and the tom boy. The problem is that especially young women tend to internalize these archetypes as this helps them to develop their own identity and create an image of the self. Basically, these archetypes have come to serve as role models. Unfortunately, these characters are quite restrictive and especially teenage girls get the impression that they ought to stick to one of them. That of course conflicts with reality. A woman is not just a bombshell, a career tiger or a tomboy. In most of us you can find a little bit of everything. It is kind of like Sex and the City: Miranda, Carry, Charlotte and Samantha represent altogether the traits that you could find in every woman.
So I am inclined to say that these confining characters are bad news and that we should move away from them. Fact of the matter is though, that people often need some point of reference or image to hold onto. Therefore, I believe that the time has come to develop a new character. A balanced archetype that can actually serve as a role model and that does not result in a process of negative internalization:
This character is no airhead bimbo who strictly relies on her beauty and sexuality, but also not the emancipated hero who chooses career above anything. She is an independent female individual, yet not too proud or stubborn to take help from others. This type coexists in a harmonious manner with her surroundings but also pursues her own dreams and ambitions. Furthermore, she knows how to maintain a healthy balance between her needs and what society expects her to be. She wears whatever she likes and yet she understands that there is a time and place for everything. This girl won't show up to her son’s PTA meeting in hot pants, but neither will she hide herself in turtlenecks only. This female is comfortable in her own skin and she’s no prude, nor a sexual revolutionary. This type just is who she is. In relationships, she is a supportive partner or friend but she knows how to stand her ground and how to be respected. The bottom line is that this character represents a woman who has her priorities straight as human being. She understands and enjoys the power of her femininity, looks with a critical eye at society and seeks to live peacefully with herself and others. Now that's what I call girl power!