When we hate on bridezillas, what’s really going on?

Article by Lauren Rosewarne /
Sydney Morning Herald /
January 28, 2019 /

Click here to view original /

There are certain news items I’ll click on — every time, without hesitation — despite there being no logic behind my interest. I’ve read, for example, every single “Kmart hack” story despite not visiting a store in over a decade. And I’m hate-clicking on every gender reveal write-up, from the tie-dyed lasagnes to the gender reveal forest fire, because, evidently, I have neither dignity nor willpower.
And whenever a bride-from-hell-story presents itself, I’m there for it.

Despite having zero interest in weddings or wedding culture I’m powerless to the pull of finding out just how unreasonably she acted in the lead up to her Special Day.

Why? Where does the pleasure come from?

Most obviously there’s the same joys that are mined from any what-in-the-weird news item. The vegan bride-to-be who uninvited her “murderous” relatives, or the one with different dress codes for differently girthed guests are, simply, objectively funny stories.

I’ll laugh just as I did at the parents who circulated a list of acceptable birthday presents for their toddler or at the white woman who darkened her skin and now thinks she’ll have a “milk chocolate” baby. People can be awful and the more awful they are the more hilarious.

Assuming that the tales are real, underneath all the mockery and the memes is a living, breathing woman who’s being recreationally shredded.

Laughter also comes from these stories complying with the worst stereotype of brides: the woman who feels that the world revolves solely around her and her princess-for-a-day soiree. The entitlement, the melodrama, the exquisite treachery of her nearest-and-dearest leaking the story all make for a hilarious read.

And, just quietly, her shenanigans can help us feel less wretched about our own high-maintenance: my skincare regime might have 97 steps but, hey, at least I’m not secretly slipping fattening mickeys into my bridesmaids smoothies.

But is that all that’s going on? Surely the pleasures of devouring these diabolical divas is worth unpacking a little.

It wasn’t mere chance that I opened this article by flagging my lack of interest in wedding culture. I do find all of it — from the poofy dresses to the dress-a-like lady slaves to the seating charts and the gift registries — to be ridiculous. It’s easy to pin my opposition largely on politics; the feminist in me has never liked the institution of marriage. But it’s more than this. I’m going to admit here to some regrettable internalised sexism.

Culturally, things that are disproportionately enjoyed by women are frowned upon. From boy bands to chick lit, from women’s magazines to reality television, there’s a tendency —and I’m unquestionably guilty of it — of often dismissing things women like. When we think of high culture, or even just celebrated culture, almost never do the passions of women make the list. I wholeheartedly believe that reality TV is garbage.

And boy bands will undoubtedly be the soundtrack to my kidnapping. But I admit to occasionally wondering about whether a culture that couples the frivolous with the female is to blame for thwarting my ability to just enjoy an episode of Married at First Sight or Masterchef and not hurl a brick through the screen.

It’s no accident that the much-maligned Bridezilla figure is not just a woman, but one who’s wholeheartedly partaking of the dress-up, coiffed-hair, centre-of-attention femininity extravaganza. And I have to ask myself, am I laughing at her not only because I think of her demands as outrageous, but because I actually have no respect for the malarkey she’s chosen to become obsessed with.

Gender is also at play here given that these Bridezilla stories are playing out in a space notoriously hostile to women. Viral Bridezilla stories, after all, are an Internet age phenomena: not only rapidly circulated but with the inevitable ensuing feeding frenzy across social media.

Assuming that the tales are real, underneath all the mockery and the memes is a living, breathing woman who’s being recreationally shredded.

No, she’s not a particularly sympathetic figure, and her demands that guests put aside two-weeks vacation for a destination-to-be-determined palaver don’t quite frame her as a victim. But it’s interesting that in a society so worried about schoolyard bullying and so conscious of the different ways we shame one another, that we let ourselves off the hook for partaking of similar mean-spirited behaviour towards these b(r)atty brides.

I’m not woke enough to resist clicking on tomorrow’s bride-gone-bonkers story. And I probably won’t embrace the idea of marriage anytime soon. Instead, I’ll do my bit for gender equality and ask the universe to even things out with some stories of nutty grooms. Surely they’re out there, freaking out about boutonnière and bonbonniere, just salivating for my cackle and scorn.

© Lauren Rosewarne 2019