It started with the idea of keeping a blog called The Engaged Life, that was supposed to document, chart and consolidate the process of getting married. To use it as a learning tool and create a narrative that teaches. The only challenge was that the narrative quickly sped out of control and I was spinning.
Being a Bride is fucked up, not least because it’s a modern falsehood built on the idea of purity. It caused me problems. As I think on it now it makes me think of the painting of Lady Jane Grey by Paul Delaroche. Lady Jane Gray was a young English noble who was married off in an alliance that would make her the shortest reigning English monarch. S Lady Jane Grey was Queen for 9 days and was removed from the throne was later beheaded for treason along with her young husband. The painting depicts her in a white dress being helped to the executioners block blindfolded and most importantly in a white dress.
It’s a rough analogy I know; for being a Bride. I’m sad to say it’s how I felt and in moments even worse. For many of us, our wedding is some how meant to encapsulate all we are as women. It’s based on the idea that someone else should adore us enough to offer that validation, which all of us know on a spiritual path know is absolutely fucked. How do we get someone to love us that much if we don’t align with the idea of purity not only that how do we honour this idea when it’s all about somebody else feelings for you?
I’ve struggled with this, all of this, and much much more and i”m still wondering at it all. About what society think and why we are hell-bent on creating such unrealistic expectations of ourselves? To be young, to be beautiful and most of all that these are the qualities on which we as women are supposed to be honoured. When most of the women that I know have radically transformed themselves beyond the ideas of the maiden by the time they get married these days. That we are no longer sacrificial virgins, we’re just supposed to look like one. I’m glad to believe that ideas of the divine feminine are rapidly changing. That there are now hopefully a whole generation of young girls and young women that no longer seek to define themselves by these rules. Yet is it changing rapidly enough?
If Instagram is anything to go by not really and yet at the same time maybe? Ideas of perfection are crippling and self-harm rates among young women are on the rise as Instagram is suspected to be part of the cause. The perfect photo, the perfect body and the strange face smoothing filters that are just creepy. Yet, on the other hand, Instagram gives us a voice and the opportunity to honour ourselves, see our own value and write stories that represent us in all our messyness, rather than the picture perfect lives that we are supposed to be living. That our feeling matter and the idea of the female muse are quickly fading as the community Boyfriends of Insta suggests. That men too are supposed to glorify women for nothing more than their looks in beautiful locations presenting fantastical ideas of self-love; when in fact the photos are endlessly supported by someone other than ourselves. That somehow we need to be endorsed. I can’t figure out if it’s radical subversion of the concept of the gaze or a perversion of it? That women are still buying into the masculine control of the gaze. absorbing and adopting it as part of a toxic masculine framework. That they too believe that beauty is their only value. The self-harm epidemic certainly seems to suggest so.
Where does that leave us? Much like my idea of a blog called The Engaged Life, very confused, especially as women who straddle the new and old paradigms.
What alarms me personally most is…..that I did not grow up with body image issues. admittedly I’ve largely been quite slim and fairly attractive so why would I? Maybe this is the quandary of the older Bride and all that means. You think being an older Bride would offer you more confidence and control. Where in fact I found the opposite trying to live up to value and beliefs that had outgrown me, that my twenty-something self would have relished. It makes me believe that the worshipping of the maiden has to take on a different form. Develop its own ritual and Brides should be left to focus on the important things, marriage and the transitioning of families. The story has to change. Brides are not sacrificial offerings. They are Queens creating their own Queendoms.