I’ve been reading a lot of bridal magazines lately. And although a few months ago I might have classified even one bridal magazine per lifetime as “a lot” – or, dare I say, “one too many” - these days “a lot” is actually… well, a lot. Enough to wallpaper the pantry masquerading as my study, for instance. Twice.
I have not gone mad. The reason for this newfound hobby is simple: a dear friend of mine is getting married and has asked me to be her bridesmaid. And before I go on with my cruelty and anti-marriage shite, please, allow a brief disclaimer to say that I am ecstatic that she and her fiancee are tying the knot and quietly stoked to be involved on the day. Anyway...
It’s been a weird experience, reading these magazines. Having never really paid attention to bridal magazines in the past 26 years I’ve paid even less attention to the wedding photos inside them, containing one nauseating image of people I don’t know after another, rictus grins and spray tan smeared all over their faces in more or less equal quantity. So I’ve never appreciated before just how chillingly depressing they are. Sort of like porn. Because, just like porn, after awhile they all start to look exactly the same. And by the time you get to the money shot (in my mind it’s a toss up between the inevitably vomituous ‘misty gaze’ or the poncy one where they cut the cake), as with porn you can’t help but feel a little bit, well, deflated.
My distaste for this sort of thing is not motivated entirely by my distate for marriage. While I may not be exactly the marrying kind I don’t actually HATE the idea behind it - a big booze-with your friends and family and presents besides – nor those who choose to do it. But faced with page of smiling couple after page of smiling couple it only take to about page 30 or so before you can’t help doing the maths. I don’t keep up to date with divorce statistics but I assume they still sit pretty close to fifty per cent. Which means you can draw a line through the centre of any given page and… well, you know.
Now I know that magazines exist to sell readers idolised versions of themselves. For women’s magazines this is a sort of vision of what you could be if you ate nothing but rice cakes and cocaine all day. But while there are plenty of people prepared to slag off the fashion glossies that depict prepubuscent thirteen-year-olds writhing around on catwalks, beaches or the thighs of Armani-clad models, where are the people complaining about the particular brand of false hope dished out by bridal magazines?
Fuck calling for “real women” (somewhere between a size ten and the half of the two fat ladies that is still alive, I gather) to be included in bathing suit spreads, why is nobody calling to have images of real marriage included in bridal mags?
The answer is, of course, obvious. It’s the same reason you don’t get to see flaccid cocks and post coital STD clinic appointments in a porno or Dawn French in Cosmo.
But that doesn’t make it right.
Even a single photo of a sexless, running-to-fat couple sitting in dinner table silence would be sufficient to lower the marital expectations of the average reader, if not lead them to re-think this whole marriage malarky altogether. Get those damned statistics down, maybe.