My husband and I will celebrate our fourteenth wedding anniversary very soon. After all these years, people on both sides of our family still talk fondly about our wedding, about how simple and lovely it was, and about how much fun they had.
No one talks about what the bridesmaids wore, or about who had the best boobs or the fewest wrinkles. I promise. Apparently, though, that is no longer the case.
Today's New York Times has an article on a trend that has left me truly agog: brides who are asking their attendants to have Botox or other cosmetic proceedures as part of being in the wedding. In what I think has to be the most horrific moment in the article, one woman dishes about her engaged friend's request:
Becky Lee, 39, a Manhattan photographer, declined when a friend asked
her — and five other attendants — to have their breasts enhanced.
“We’re all Asian and didn’t have a whole lot of cleavage, and she found
a doctor in L.A. who was willing to do four for the price of two,” said
Ms. Lee, who wore a push-up bra instead.
Oh my. And I thought asking bridesmaids to attend multiple showers was a bit much.
I am not opposed to plastic surgery; I can't imagine having an invasive cosmetic procedure myself, but I know women who have had Botox and breast enhancement and other tweaks and have been very happy with the outcome. I am also not surprised to hear that brides -- especially older brides (and by "older" I am using the Times definition, which is women in their 30s which is not old AT ALL but let's just go with it shall we?) might want a little smoothing or tucking or peeling before their Big Day.
What makes me clutch my pearls and gasp is the idea that any bride would be comfortable asking her friends to have a boob job just so they will look better in the wedding pictures. Perhaps a bra fitting would be more apropos? Or -- dare I suggest it -- a different dress?
Let's not go crazy here, right? Right.
Michelle Preli, at Brides.com's Wedded Bits blog, sees this as an inevitable step in the evolution of wedding festivities: "But brushing aside the alliterative and attention-grabbing headline, what they're really magnifying is the trend of brides holding a skin care soiree as a modern twist on bridesmaids gifts. . . . Bonding over beautiful skin can take many forms and whether that's a massage, manicure, chemical peel, or Botox...well, that's up to your personal choice." Maybe, but it still seems like a lot to ask.
Marie, at Every Day is a Miracle, writes about her own simple, economical wedding and wonders about the larger value system at play here.
I have strong opinions about cosmetic surgery. Why take a risk by going
under the knife purely to look younger or more "beautiful"? I have
great respect for plastic surgeons, having been born with a cleft lip
and palate, and one of my favorite charities is The Smile Train, which
raises money to perform plastic surgery on children in developing
countries with cleft lips and palates.
But how can people spend gobs of money on temporarily looking younger...when so many are in need?
I confess I agree with Marie; I think there is a place in the world for cosmetic surgery, but perhaps a bridesmaid's luncheon isn't that place.
Marilyn Sewell has another take on this, from the vantage point not of the bride, but of a member of the wedding party. She tells the story of a mother whose daughter-in-law-to-be asks that she do something about the crow's feet before the wedding.
All I can is that if my son's beloved asked me to do that, I would take
my son aside and have a heart-to-heart talk with him. I would say,
"Son, I feel obliged as a mother to warn you. I will say this only
once. You're about to marry a woman who doesn't like herself the way
she is, and never will. She is a woman who will spend the household
money foolishly. She may never want to have children, because of
course the little tikes are demanding and do some damage to a woman's
girlish figure. She may spend more time staring in the mirror than
looking at you. I cannot tell you who to marry or not to marry, and I
will of course support you, and your bride, whatever you decide to do.
But know what you're getting into."
This is a common assumption about women who have plastic surgery, and true or not, demanding that other members of the wedding party have themselves plumped or peeled or lifted for your wedding opens you up to this kind of criticism. I would be devastated if my son's fiancee insisted I have a little tuck for the photos; I cannot imagine how our relationship would ever recover.
Being a bridesmaid can be a tough gig -- there's the dress, for starters, and the parties, and feeling obligated to talk nothing but wedding with the bride for as long as the engagement lasts. I think most of us agree with great delight to help women we love celebrate their marriages, but the financial and emotional investment can be substantial. Some brides are also asking attendants to sign contracts agreeing not to gain weight or cut their hair or get a tan, which is crazy in itself -- but then to ask for a boob job on top of all that?
My bridesmaids wore their own dresses -- on a fluke, all three of them owned dresses in similar shades of violet. They did their own hair, and mine, and their own makeup. They were beautiful, and we laughed and cried and laughed UNTIL we cried. And fourteen years later, people still talk about what a beautiful wedding it was.
Without ANY Botox at all.
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