Monday, December 11, 2006

WHITE WEDDINGS


Here's an article from the Las Vegas Review-Journal saying that Brides of Color are rare in bridal magazines.



WHITE WEDDINGS: Bridal magazines reflect white world Study finds no black women on covers, fewer than 2 percent of brides in ads were black By LAWRENCE MOWER REVIEW-JOURNAL

UNLV assistant professor Erika Engstrom, above, along with University of Missouri assistant professor Cynthia Frisby, conducted a study that found that black brides are severely underrepresented in conventional bridal magazines. Photo by Craig L. Moran.
Thoughts of getting married generate images of white -- white dresses, white flowers and white wedding cakes.
But according to a recent study, they also generate images of white brides. White, thin and attractive brides, to be precise.


Women of different ethnic groups, particularly black brides, are continuously left out of advertising and content of the three major bridal magazines, creating a reflection of which group of people should get married in American society, according to Cynthia Frisby, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri at Columbia.
Frisby, along with Erika Engstrom, assistant dean of the Greenspun College of Urban Affairs at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, conducted a study that found fewer than 2 percent of brides featured in the three major bridal magazines were black.
The sampling consisted of covers and advertisements in 57 randomly selected issues of Bride's Magazine, Modern Bride and Elegant Bride published between 2000 and 2004.
Of the more than 6,000 ads, fewer than 2 percent featured a black woman as a bride, the study found. No black woman was featured on the cover, and the most frequent image of a black woman in the magazines was as a bridesmaid.
The phenomena points to a larger problem in society and could have negative effects on black women, according to Engstrom.
"It kind of tells black women who is supposed to get married, and basically re-establishes the concept of a white wedding being white," Engstrom said.
Statistics show that black women are less likely to get married than other women.
According to a 2005 U.S. Census report, 43.4 percent of all black women have never been married, a rate that is far higher than for whites, Hispanics and Asians. The national average for women who have never been married is 25.8 percent. Figures from 2004 show that 12.8 percent of the U.S. population is black.
The study, published in the fall 2006 issue of the journal Media Report to Women, also says the lack of black brides in the magazines communicates "a negative assumption that it is better for African Americans to stay in background roles as opposed to positions equal in status and power to their White counterparts."
Bridal magazines, because they consist almost entirely of advertisements for dresses and other wedding products, are an accurate projection of what group of people businesses cater to, according to Engstrom.
"Bridal magazines are basically a specialized form of publication. It kind of tells us something about society in general."
The results were little changed since a similar study looked at bridal magazines in 1999, she said.

"Despite significant improvements in media representations of African Americans," the study stated, "images appearing in popular bridal magazines are fairly homogenous, and contribute to the notion African American women seem to be socially unimportant in this form of media."
Bridal magazines are available that cater to women of color, such as Brides Noir, but the report said those were insufficient and shouldn't be viewed as substitutes.
"We believe such demarcation between 'White' bridal magazines and 'Black' bridal magazines only emphasizes segregation of races," the report stated.
The study suggests advertisers, not readers, could be the only party interested in seeing only white brides.
"Whether bridal industry advertisers and those who publish bridal magazines believe this or not remains to be seen," the report stated.

For more reading on the racial/class/gender aspect of the bridal industry, please read Chrys Ingram's White Weddings.

5 comments:

Stephanie B. said...

This comes of as no suprise to me at all. The whole marriage market is both racialized and genderized. It's also class and sexual orientation biased as well. One has to look at history when only the upper classes, nobility, royalty, and the bourgeiosie were fit to get married. Read Chrys Ingram's "White Weddings" in order to get to the bottom of this.

Ann said...

"Women of different ethnic groups, particularly black brides, are continuously left out of advertising and content of the three major bridal magazines, creating a reflection of which group of people should get married in American society,..."

Yes, we black women don't get married.

Marriage? What the hell is that? Does not compute in the minds of us "invisible, don't have any worth in the eyes of anyone", black women.


"No black woman was featured on the cover, and the most frequent image of a black woman in the magazines was as a bridesmaid.
The phenomena points to a larger problem in society and could have negative effects on black women, according to Engstrom.
"It kind of tells black women who is supposed to get married, and basically re-establishes the concept of a white wedding being white," Engstrom said."

Yep, that's us black women. The proverbial "sidekicks". Good enough to fuck, but not good enough for marriage. Good enough to be used and abused; but not good enough to be treated as a woman should be treated: as marriageable prospects, as worthy of dating, as worthy of having children/ a family with, as worthy of building a life with.

Yep, that's us black women.

Still, and always devalued and degraded by American society.

The study, published in the fall 2006 issue of the journal Media Report to Women, also says the lack of black brides in the magazines communicates "a negative assumption that it is better for African Americans to stay in background roles as opposed to positions equal in status and power to their White counterparts."

Marriage gives power to women.

A married woman is not alone stuggling to make ends meet. A married woman has someone in her corner (provided he is a man who is sure of himself and believes in equal treatment and compatability with his wife.) A married woman is less streesful wondering how she will pay the bills, how will any children that she has will be taken care of.
A married woman who has a good husband with her best interests at heart, is a woman who is less likely to have many health problems, less financial strain on her, and especially if the man is good father material, a good father for her children.

But, I tell ya, us black women, well, we just don't have time for something like marriage.

Nope.

Marriage is just for "white, thin and attractive brides".

Definately NOT for black women.

As far as the rest of society is concerned, black women don't deserve to get married. We just aren't good enough for it in the eyes of many people.

What the heck, come Valentine's Day, we're probably not good enough to get flowers, cards and candy.

Sheesh!

"Despite significant improvements in media representations of African Americans," the study stated, "images appearing in popular bridal magazines are fairly homogenous, and contribute to the notion African American women seem to be socially unimportant in this form of media."

Of course we black women are unimportant in this form of media. Heck, we're unimportant PERIOD.

Unimportant. Let me count the ways:

-Not appearing in bridal magazines
-Not appearing in non-bridal prominant mags such as the likes of W, Vogue, Glamour.
-Not appearing in movies opposite major male lead actors (Pshaw! Those old parts should all go to the non-black actresses out there. Black actresses. They're just acting because they have nothing better to do. Just honing their skills as actresses because, well, it's just something to while away the time while doing our nails.
-Dating sites (both online and establishments located in major cities). I mean who's really interested in marrying those invisible, unimportant black women? No one, obviously, since those black women don't have feelings and asking them out on dates, wining and dining them, and possibly marrying them. Everybody knows black women aren't human like all other women. Nope. Black women just can't be pestered with that old fuddy-duddy institution of marriage.

Pshaw! Perish the thought!

"We believe such demarcation between 'White' bridal magazines and 'Black' bridal magazines only emphasizes segregation of races," the report stated.
The study suggests advertisers, not readers, could be the only party interested in seeing only white brides.
"Whether bridal industry advertisers and those who publish bridal magazines believe this or not remains to be seen," the report stated."

Advertisors of these magas are white. And their priorities are obviously, from the contents of these mags, definately not in the best interests of black women.

As far as the advertisors are concerned, their thoughts on black women are:

"You're good enough to keep us rich by buying our products, but, on the other hand, you're not good enough for us to represent you in our mags, even though you represent almost 13% of the US population.

"You're invisible.

"Drop dead."

Message heard loud and clear, advertisors of bridal magazines.

Message heard loud, and clear.

Stephanie B. said...

Thanks, Ann. You never lied. This system never meant to value Black women period. The glorification of blond, thin, white brides says something about the maintenence of whiteness and of white racial purity more than anything.

tiffanybbrown said...

i'm not buying their conclusions: "creating a reflection of which group of people should get married in American society."

except that these magazines are targeted to and for the most part read by (a) women who are already engaged and want to get married and (b) are dumb enough to spend $40K+ on a wedding.

on the first point: if you are on the wedding trail, you're not going to be dissuaded because there are no brown-skinned women in the bridal mags. if you're not on the wedding trail, i doubt you're reading these magazines and absorbing that imagery.

on the second point: generally speaking, black folks don't have the means or the will to have the kind of materialistic, spare-no-expense, rock-star weddings these magazines promote. so again: are we really reading these magazines?

the unfortunate truth is that black women are less likely to get married because black men of marriageable age and condition are non-existent in many black neighborhoods (i.e.: alive, legally employed, disease-free, addiction-free, never been to jail, and not crazy).

it has nothing to do with not being in magazines that are full of sh*t we can't afford and/or wouldn't buy anyway.

Anna said...

Must Congratulate the blogger for coming up with such a thoughtful and sensitive issue, when the entire blogger world is going gaga over glitzy, glamorous and cheap stuff. I am so glad that I chanced upon to come across such a lovely article and so much thoughts being exchanged over this. This article has really set me thinking on many such similar issues. Krrp up the great job!!Cheers!!wedding

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