And the bride wore…. Blue?

By Emily

I so often hear brides tell me: “I know I should wear a white wedding dress, but white just isn’t very flattering on me.” Or my other favorite: “What color should I wear for my wedding, since I’m really not that…pure?” (Pandora: People actually say this?! Emily: I’ve had someone say it to me. Sad.) Because as we all know, white is the universal symbol of purity…right? Wrong!

Historically, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, blue has been the color of purity and faithfulness. In America, we have morphed the color blue to mean loyalty (e.g., true-blue American). So it should come as no surprise that blue was often a first pick for wedding finery (something old, new, borrowed and blue, anyone?). When you couldn’t run out to Target to grab a new outfit, or have the expendable income to spend on a lavish wedding, women would wear their best dress to get married in, with favored colors being blue, gold, and/or silver. White was incredible expensive. Because fibers were natural, they were actually closer to ivory, so the process to create white fabrics was both labor and cost intensive. In addition, white was horribly impractical. Life and white clothing are NOT friends, even today.

Engraving of Queen Victoria's wedding to Prince Albert, February 10, 1840

Engraving of Queen Victoria’s wedding to Prince Albert, February 10, 1840

We can really thank big business, the inustrial revolution, and the media for white wedding dresses. About 150 years ago, Queen Victoria rocked the western world by wearing a white dress for her wedding. (She’s not the first! I actually found a reference to Queen Mary of Scots wearing a white trimmed gown with grey fur, but that was a bit more political perhaps. She was marrying into French royalty and at the time in France, white was the color of mourning. Although she claimed it was her favorite color.) Ok, back to 1840. The industrial revolution was in full swing, and Victoria decided to be a responsible regent, and promote handmade arts. She chose to use handmade lace on her skirt, and lots of it. White was chosen to compliment the lace. Then, the media published an engraving of her wedding (this was big news, kind of like Prince Charles & Diana’s televised wedding).

So, here is the most powerful woman in the world, wearing the most impractical, and one of the most expensive colors at the time. And, thanks to the growing media, everyone could see it for themselves. White became a highly prized color for weddings, not to show purity, but to show how wealthy you were, that you could afford a “throw away” dress, a dress that would only see one or two uses. The color waxed and waned in popularity for wedding apparel through out second half of the 19th century. With the emergence of the wedding industry in the first half of the 20th century, white became more de rigueur.

So, if you want a “traditional” (traditional here meaning a tradition of conspicuous consumption about 100 years old), wear white. If you want a sign of purity, you could always try using your bloody bed sheets as a banner on your house. That is a much older tradition. Personally, I find the conspicuous consumption white dress to be less offensive, though!

I’m not your boyfriend!

By Pandora

This has happened to me too many times to be an accident. Women use me when they don’t have a boyfriend. They don’t use me for sex; I’m straight and so are these particular friends. Emily: phew. Thanks for setting the record straight on that one!  They use me for companionship and I mistake it for friendship. It has happened to me since middle school and has happened all the way up into my 40s and I have just now caught on. What is wrong with me? Well, I know what’s wrong with me. I’m co-dependent and this feeds right into my disorder. I love to be useful, until I get dumped.

Here’s what happens: it follows the same predictable pattern time after time. I meet a nice woman. She is fun and looking for friendship. Typically, she feels misunderstood by other women, or doesn’t have many other girlfriends. We start off doing crazy fun activities together, then we start sharing, usually pretty quickly into the relationship. She will confide in me how no one understands her, other women are always jealous of her, her life is very hard and depressing, men just use her or don’t appreciate her or she can’t find a good one. This sharing goes on for a while. I am the strong one, I am the one she turns to for help, I am the shoulder to cry on. I am her best friend. This goes on for a while, sometimes years. Eventually the girl finds a boyfriend. It’s a rocky relationship at first, but I am there for her. Until she doesn’t need me anymore and I get dumped. I never see it coming! Emily: going forward, what’s the solution? How are you going to make this not happen again?

Am I a secret lesbian? I’m not physically attracted to women, but maybe they are secret lesbians and they are attracted to me?!? Is this just a problem for women? Does this happen to other women? Emily: yup. Maybe not as often, but I could certainly name a few “users”! Does this mean I have low self-esteem? Does this mean I am the “man?” I can literally think of at least five female relationships that have been characterized by this pattern stretching throughout my life.

I think it’s getting worse. I think my pool of eligible friends has been narrowing over the years and all the good friends are taken. Looking for a good girlfriend is like looking for a husband; all the good ones are taken and the leftovers have issues, that’s why they don’t have any girlfriends. Does that mean I’m a leftover? Am I the one with issues? Emily: doesn’t being human mean that you have issues? I don’t think I’ve come across anyone who doesn’t have issues. I think I’m a good friend. Emily: True. I’m not needy, but I’m fun and honest and loyal. Emily: True. I don’t ditch on women for boyfriends. Emily: True. I know boyfriends come and go and now that I’m married, it’s not even an issue, except that all the good girlfriend candidates have kids now and they are too busy to maintain a friendship with a child-free lady. Just a side-note, I have a lot of single friends and I am not dissing them. They are excellent ladies who have never thrown me over for a man. I am just getting tired of the ladies who masquerade as nice, but really they just want to use me. I am not a place-holder!

Sparkly, Shiny, and Skimpy

By Pandora

I want to join the circus. I want to wear sparkly, shiny, skimpy clothes and do daring feats of strength that hundreds admire from afar, and run away from home. That pretty much describes the factors I look for when I choose a Halloween costume. It’s pretty ridiculous because I am 40 (Emily: at least you don’t look 40) and not 8, but I don’t care. I still love my world of imagination and anything that allows me to make that world real is awesome for me. I assume it is awesome for people who get to see me as well.

I believe my Halloween costume can inspire. I talk about it to everyone I meet. (Emily: Yes. Yes she does.) I talk about the process of choosing it and creating it and wearing it. I am not just describing a fun interest, I am proselytizing a world of childish imagination and showing people that even normal-seeming, old-ish women can still live out their wildest dreams. (Emily: I agree – I think that it is sadly common for grown ups to lose a sense of awe and wonder and excitement.)

For awhile I thought my dreams were dead. I have infertility and I thought having lots of children would make my dreams come true, but I was wrong. I have found new dreams and they are fabulous and they involve lots of sparkles. People always say they don’t know what they want to be when they grow up and I don’t either. I am making new dreams and resurrecting old ones, and joining the circus could still happen, at least for one night in October. And it will be sparkly, shiny, and skimpy.