Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."

Does it get any more vain or vacuous than this - a story in the New York Times about a new trend in the already over-the-top wedding business? In "It’s Botox for You, Dear Bridesmaids" the Times reveals that the hot accessory for brides and their bridesmaids is botox treatments. And it doesn't end there. Plastic surgeons report that many brides-to-be (as well as mothers of the bride and groom) invest in everything from chemical peels and laser treatments to liposuction and botox injections before marching down the aisle. Even more astonishing is the report that these "bridezillas" often request that their bridesmaids do the same. Sure, many of these women pick up the tab for the treatments as a "gift" to their wedding party. As one bride explained, botox or a face-lift represents a more tangible and permanent token of appreciation than an engraved pill box or piece of jewelry. Nevertheless, not all bridesmaids are amused or amenable to such requests. One potential bridesmaid, for example, refused to follow a bride's request for all of her bridesmaids to have breast augmentation surgery performed by a California doctor who offered to operate on four women for the price of two!

Although a day at a spa or salon seems pretty standard pre-wedding fare these days, cosmetic surgery and botox are symptomatic of the wedding industry having lost its way in the desire to increase profits. Are we really that shallow? Have we elevated the wedding ceremony itself to the level of a Broadway musical or Hollywood movie requiring a director, producer, lighting crew, and set director? And couldn't that money be better spent - perhaps on a down payment for a home? Moreover, in a period of economic crisis, this kind of spending on wedding frippery just seems irresponsible, like a Gilded Age soiree. What's next - tummy tucks and botox for the grooms and groomsmen?


One Wink at a Time said...

I agree. Our society is way too concerned with appearances. If you prove to me that I'll be a better person; more caring/loving/whatever, a better wife, parent, friend, etc., then, just maybe I'll consider a chemical peel. Otherwise I'm happy with these wrinkles I've earned.
Ok, I'm lying about that last part but hopefully I never end up so shallow that I'll be taken over by vanity.

BooCat said...

I am not surprised. At my highest, I tipped the scales at 340 pounds. I have kept the bride's book or poured the punch at the bride's table (an honor in the South of my day) rather than be considered as a bridesmaid and that was back in the 60s and 70s. It was never said, but implied, that I would ruin the "Bride Beautiful" perfection of the wedding photographs. The exception was my best friend (more like a sister) who chose my plus-sized self as her maiden of honor. She is the one person from that period of my life with whom I have remained close.
As for plastic surgery, I have taken off more than half of my body weight. When I finally get the last 30 off (a slow,arduous slog taking longer than the first 170), I will probably find a good plastic surgeon to get rid of what I call my "hangings." It may be vanity (I would like to finally be able to wear a basic bathing suit in public), but comfort figures in there, too. Skin does not return to its original shape. It is going to need the assistance of a talented surgeon.

jblack designs said...

Good post, Brian. I don't know that I'd see it as our *elevating* the ceremony, though. I think weddings have become, for many people today (maybe always--I don't know), just a fancy party. A grown-up, I'm-in-control version of a personal prom, maybe, or our own red-carpet day.

I mean, most of the couples have probably already been living together, which is why they ask for his and her bikes, not knives and cake pans for wedding gifts, so what meaning does the big day hold? It's hard to see it as much more than superficial "splendor," especially given the stories you've presented.

I look at the wedding pages and marvel over how different the 50th-anniversary photos look than the current push-up bra extravaganzas.

From virginal to ... well ... fill in the blank, all in 50 years.


Isabel said...

Well, for me weddings became mostly a business instead of a celebration of the commitment a couple is making to each other. There are florists, wedding consultants, caterers, gowns and bridemaid's dresses, tableware, and extensive menus, and I have often guests who skip the wedding ceremony all together and just show up for the party. I have even witnessed wedding plans that lasted longer than the weddings themselves. Until I arrived in the States over 20 years ago and had never heard of bridesmaids or these elaborated parties. In Portugal, you had quaint family ceremonies in church followed by receptions solely given for family and close friends. Gifts were not required and no one was ever concerned they gave enough money to pay for their place at the table. But now, I go back to Portugal and find people totally taken by the wedding industry mentality. Very telling of the type of consumer society we have become, doesn't it.