Tuesday, June 14, 2011

For every bride, a wedding

Darlings, there is something that has really really been bothering me lately. It seems there are a lot of women out there who have been made to feel they are somehow not enough - not thin enough, not tall enough, not pretty enough. On the flip side, are the women who are told they are too much - too plain, too punk, too be-spectacled. And when one of these ladies goes to plan her wedding...Oh the heartbreak.  Imagine being told that you are not good enough to have a celebration of your you-ness. Imagine being told that for this one day - this day meant to kick off a forever, meant to be remembered forever - you cannot and shouldn't want to be yourself.

That is unacceptable.

And we are going to change things starting right now so let me introduce you to a woman who has gotten a head start opening doors.

Elsa is a rare breed.  Born a "rubella baby," she underwent eight surgeries before she turned one. As a result she has a scar on her back from heart surgery (I can relate) and has to deal with somewhat problematic hearing in her left ear, she is completely blind in her right eye but has retained vision in her left eye. She's not allowed to drive, has no depth perception, limited peripheral vision, and calcium deposits in the right eye that cause her migraines if if she doesn't wear a scleral shell.Obviously, Elsa curled up in a corner sometime in her teenage years and has been wallowing there in the dark ever since. Um, no. Elsa is a burlesque historian and second generation burlesque performer. She just received her Master's in Women's History, she's an ardent feminist, and a proudly disabled woman who enjoys referring to her white cane as a "thwacky stick of destruction."

Before we go any further, what exactly does it mean to be proudly disabled?
Because the world isn't technically built to serve me, I have to make the world work to my advantage.  I am proudly disabled because I can make the world work for me.
Recently, Elsa wrote this guest post for Offbeat Bride. Women everywhere broke into thunderous applause. I added a standing ovation and sent her a message straight away. I had to know more.
Families can have a specific picture in their head of what a bride will look like; people on the street will even have images in their head. I am not that picture. It is no one's fault though, it's the fault of the Wedding Industrial Complex. The WIC likes to project the image of a bride to be one specific thing, possibly so that we all try to look like their models. Which would be why I've always envisioned myself as having an "offbeat" wedding.
I am not wearing a veil, because I know that it would prevent me from using what peripheral vision I do have. I am not wearing a white dress, because I would not be able to see the detail on my own dress.
Somehow I think going naked is a little too "offbeat," even for a chick as superbly cool as Elsa.  So what is she going to wear?

I'm going to rock out some dressed up dance shoes; preferably ones that look like they came out of the 1930s or 1940s. So, I'll  be wearing high heels, but I won't be wearing super showy high heels; they'll be somewhat practical. I am relatively short compared to my other half (seriously, this girl was totally meant to be my friend!) so I definitely want to be at least a little taller.
via Peonies and Polaroids
[As for] the dress, we're adding beading to the back in colors that represent the four elements, [a nod to Druid  theology]. We'll probably throw some dark blue sparklies on there, and some hints of lingerie detailing at the hip, since I'm a burlesque historian and performer!
And yes, I am going to play princess with my hair and makeup, though it'll be more 1930s princess with pincurled hair and so on.

Marcel Wave via Pinterest
 My glasses are a part of my face. And [my fiance] loves my face. So they stay, too, but...Within three days of becoming engaged, I had already been told that I shouldn't wear my glasses, because they're not bridal. I was told my cane wasn't bridal. I was told my eye (below) was not bridal.
 And I realized that if I was going to be "bridal" in their eyes, I would have to change who I am. I am proudly disabled. I am the blind woman who moved across the country by herself to live in New York City. I am the blind woman who has done sword fighting and parkour. I am the blind woman who loves to lindy hop on a crowded dance floor — and I will not change to meet what the Wedding Industry believes is bridal.
When I was told that I shouldn't carry my cane, my fiance's comment was this:

Him: I think you would look very pretty walking down the aisle with your cane.
Me: But it'll be a flat aisle, right?
Him: Actually, I was thinking speed bumps and broken glass!
But don't worry, darlings, Elsa will not walk down the aisle naked in the cane respect, either.

[A] very dear friend of mine Michael Angelus Salerno made me this cane:

This is the Steampunk White Cane aka, "The Steamcane." And lord help anyone who tells me it's not "bridal." I will carry it with pride on my wedding day.
Because of her background in Women's History and Feminism I wondered is Elsa was at all fazed that her fiance had been deemed "groomy" enough.
My groom doesn't feel pressured to do anything.  He has determined that he will do what he wants to, which, in his case, means wearing a tux. Personally, I think he looks hot in a gray suit, so I'm all for that. Now, if it had pinstripes, I'd be even happier, but I told him his clothes were up to him and my clothes are up to me!
Thanks to a vendor who requested Elsa not use a guide dog (which she doesn't use anyway), and another venue assumed she must be the bride's assistant on account of her killer typing skills (because apparently, blind people can't type?) our determined couple decided to implement some requirements of their own for their wedding day.
We chose not to hire these people because they were not supportive of who I am, or who we are as a couple. I could look at it as limiting [my choices], but I'd much rather look at it as a way to support myself and my community. If someone doesn't have disability accessible bathroom, for example, they're limiting me on my day so I won't choose to work with them. When we found our venue, we knew it was out venue because it was a museum and they made it very clear that they were happy to never let me use a set of stairs on our wedding day. They took me through secret passages, down elevators, through special doors...they've even offered to let me use the service elevator the day of so I can avoid the stairs down to the special garden where the ceremony will be. [Our] venue was the one that treated me like any normal bride, just recognizing that I had special needs.

I am so glad that my fiance chooses to combat my frustrations with laughter, and to support the decision to never give our money to someone who doesn't get the fact that blind women get married too. And, for the record, I think I am going to rock those stairs just so I can use my steampunk white cane.
via Pinterest


Kt said...

I loved reading this, quite inspiring.

Bunnycas said...

Truly inspiring!