So I’m having a visual problem. Women all over can’t wait to get their first bridal magazine. Once that ring goes on the finger (or for some women well before they even have a significant other) they are plunking down some major cash on thick glossy magazines that have the words “Wedding” and/or “Bridal” in them.
I was no different. I got engaged quite a while ago, but I remember purchasing that very first thick glossy Martha Stewart Weddings magazine. I sat down — excitedly flipped through it, and then sighed in blissful wedding paraphernalia content. I had been waiting to read one of those magazines, and I refused to even glance at one without a shiny ring on my finger. Finally! In 2012, I got my wish. Yet…a few hours after the bliss faded, I found I was less than satisfied with the full experience.
Take a glance at the magazine sampling up there. Something missing? Yes…something was missing. What was missing was anyone in that first book (and those I’ve purchased and flipped through subsequently) who looked like me. Yeah that’s me in that side photo….pretty good looking huh? However, very clearly tan. And above — nope, no one tan. I actually remember the first wedding glossy I read that featured the wedding of an African-American couple, I squeeled and ran to show my mom. Yes, Virginia — Black folks do get married! Citing Angela Stanley’s 2011 New York Times Article entitled “Black, Female, and Single”:
According to 2009 data from the Census Bureau, 70.5 percent of black women in the United States had never been married — but those were women between the ages of 25 and 29. Black women marry later, but they do marry. By age 55 and above, those numbers showed, only 13 percent of black women had never been married. In fact, people who have never married in their lifetimes are in the clear minority, regardless of race. (emphasis added, source HERE)
So if by age 55, 87% of African-American women had been married — yet in my 17 months of being engaged I have seen less than 10 African-American weddings (by that I mean that at least either the Bride or the Groom (or both) are of color) being a focus in wedding magazines. What? However for YEARS African-American magazines like Jet and Essence (see their online features for weddings: http://www.essence.com/love/bridal-bliss/) have bothered to show brides who look like I do — and grooms who look somewhat like my ambiguously raced fiancé. Further, somehow certain internet cites feature only African-American weddings:
Some may ask about other more widely known internet sites for bride-to-be’s. One site I was excited to view was The Knot — a much sought-after wedding website. A quick look at its homepage shows no brides of color (no black, no hispanic, no asian…) and the site even segregates a page out for African-American brides:
Okay so why does this matter. It matters because a many women gets ideas for their own ceremony by looking through those glossies. That is their purpose to a large extent. Brides get to look through the thick pages and say things like: ” I like that dress, I love those bridesmaids dresses, that hairstyle is stunning, fantastic makeup!” However, I…didn’t. I had to wonder if the dress would look good on my curves and with my complexion. Two of my bridesmaids are of color — so I had to wonder if a dress would be as flattering on them as the model or real-life bridesmaid of a different complexion. The hairstyles aren’t made for my naturally curly and thick hair, and as much as baby pink lipstick may look good on that model I refuse to look like Nikki Minaj walking down the aisle. All of this is just an example of how in many little ways minorities are trivialized and forgotten. Women like myself get married — we get married in the South, wearing Vera Wang, with bridesmaids in Alfred Sung carrying designer garden rose bouquets. We use pinterist for tablescape ideas, are tortured over the idea of a reception dress vs staying in our gowns, and weighed the merits of cupcakes vs fondant covered monstrosity just like any other bride. I’d just like to see — more than 10 times in one year (not counting Jet, Essence, Black Bride, and Munaluchi) someone who looks like me celebrating their love through a Southern Wedding spread…..