The bridesmaid dilemma

Article by Lauren Rosewarne /
ABC The Drum /
May 02, 2011 /

Click here to view original /

When a Facebook page gets quickly erected to honour your arse, you know you’ve hit the big-time. Of course, this weekend’s fetish for Pippa Middleton should hardly come as a surprise.

The papers suggested Pippa stole the show, upstaged the bride and usurped the spotlight. Such coverage should surprise few.

It’s yet another deftly contorted tale of competition between women and their stock standard packaging for mass consumption.

Even before seeing the gorgeous Pippa trail behind the bride, we knew the catfight coverage was looming. Pippa was, after all, a well-established society doyenne long before the engagement was announced: Tatler bestowed her with the “great” honour of top “society singleton” way back in 2008. Long before the wedding, young Pip was already considered the spunkier sibling. The foxier sibling. The sexier, flashier sibling. The press had long considered her Perfect Pippa, devoting copious words to documenting her perfect pins, clean smile, vivacious personality and make-it-happen attitude. And now she’s being considered Her Royal Hotness. Of course.

The clues prophesising catfight coverage existed long before the wedding: Pippa was frequently referred to in all the “ier” ways; as the more outgoing, sassier, and prettier of the two. And Kate, of course, was predicted to emulate a Disney princess. Good, evil. Madonna, whore. Fun sibling, dour sibling.

Such comparisons are mandatory: there’s clearly no ability to cover a wedding without comparing the bride to the bridesmaid. Just as there is no reporting on dazzling Logies frocks without mocking the shockers.

It’s the way women always get reported on.

Such coverage sets the stage for the default position of most media outlets when it comes to discussing women in the plural. It’s mandatory to ensure that there is, at the very least, a dash of bitchiness and competitiveness. That all important air of the catfight. Never explicit – the wedding spectacular was, after all, owed a little more class than that – but certainly nodded at. Just a little certain something to remind us that, apparently, all women’s relationships are accented by jealousy and vitriol.

And now that Kate is “off the market”, part of the Royal establishment and braving eminent baby bump speculations, Pippa is treated to the same bonkability coverage women are always subject to.

Married celebs don’t escape the pressure to look good, but the spotlight is just so much brighter on the unhitched women and just how worthy they are to schtup.

The world’s interest in Pippa was piqued because she’s the sister of the future queen. That interest sticks however, because she’s gorgeous. Because she wears clothes well and because apparently a good proportion of people have evaluated her worth in the sack.

And sure, it’s par for the course that the knives-out press have noted her fondness for fake tan and penchant for heavy handed make-up. And sure, it’s no surprise that other women made such remarks. Ah, because – evidently – it’s just what we do.

As the millions who tuned in to watch the wedding testify: we’re all very easily distracted by the razzle, by the dazzle and by the ever-so-easy-to-understand narratives. Princes and princesses, pomp and pageantry and catfights and objectification. Anything more complicated and we’d have to think too hard.

© Lauren Rosewarne