Fancy white dress. Beautiful flowers. Ornate, tiered cake. And a handsome Prince Charming waiting at the end of the aisle to declare his eternal love to you before an adoring, teary-eyed crowd. Here comes the bride. She's just so beautiful and special!
For generations, the dream of a "fairytale wedding day" has been sold to little girls as the #1 romantic aspiration of "successful" womanhood.
Yet, for all of the "til death do us part" swooniness, and the $51 billion wedding industry that relentlessly perpetuates it, the national marital divorce rate consistently holds steady at a dreary 50 percent. And, despite the promise that your "happily ever after" is waiting at the altar, it turns out that women actually initiate two-thirds of divorces, 37 percent of them confessing that they had serious doubts on their wedding day about whether they were ready for the commitment or whether they were marrying the right person.
Why, pray tell, did they go through with their something borrowed-something blue "I do" then?
Many women said they felt "significant external pressure" from parents, peers, their partner, or societal expectations. Or they believed they wouldn't find anyone else to marry. In short, they thought it better to have the socially coveted status of being married, even unhappily, than not be married at all.
Which begs the question – why do we keep selling our daughters this out-dated fairytale?
For all the progress women have made in the world, why is a wedding still the one and only socially valued ritual our girls have to look forward to?
Think about it. A wedding is the one and only time in a young woman's life when everyone she knows (plus one) happily show up, even flying in from out of country, just to be there for her "special day." A wedding is the one "life accomplishment" that friends and family willingly, collectively, and extravagantly invest their time and money towards. And a wedding is the one occasion when we dress our daughters up beautifully and shower them publically with gifts, advice, and attention.
Is it any wonder a girl might dream of a magical day like that her entire life?
So much so that when her inner voice warns that she's not ready for the commitment looming for a lifetime after the fancy ceremony, she often swallows that truth and proceeds anyway. She goes ahead with the plan just to have her one shot at experiencing that once-in-a-lifetime, all-about-me, love, attention, and support for a day.
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