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White Weddings Used to be Scandalous

During the recent whirl of the royal wedding in the UK, much attention was focused on the bride's dress. Wedding gowns are getting sexier lately (i.e. going strapless), but that NEVER would have happened during the era of the Queen who STARTED the trend for brides wearing white. And a new study shows that Hollywood continues to be a difficult place for women to find on- and off-screen role models, and provides some grim details about society's sexualization of teenaged girls.

A young and vivacious Queen Victoria set the precedent for the white wedding when she wed her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg, on February 10, 1840. She wore a white gown made in England (like Kate Middleton's dress), with a low neckline, fitted bodice and full-pleated skirt. From then on, brides would forever say their vows dressed in white. Her attire was considered shockingly restrained by royal standards. Where were the jewels, the crown, the velvet robes trimmed with ermine? But her gown was also surprisingly modern: You can find something similar in any bridal shop today. Despite shocking the public with her wedding dress, Queen Victoria was otherwise very conservative. Widowed at the age of 42, she wore black for the rest of her life as an expression of her sorrow.

Meanwhile, the images of young girls are becoming sexier than ever. In a survey of the top 100 grossing movies from 2008, researchers Stacy L. Smith and Marc Choueiti found that almost 40% of teenage female characters were seen in sexy clothing, and 30% were shown with exposed skin in the cleavage, midriff or upper thigh regions. For teenage male characters, the numbers were drastically lower--less than 7% were shown in sexy clothing and only 10% were showing skin. Conditions for women behind the camera are similarly troubling: For every woman who directed, wrote or produced a movie in 2008, there were nearly 5 men chosen for the same creative positions. Smith says, "These findings are troubling given that repeated exposure to thin and sexy characters may contribute to negative effects in some female viewers. Such portrayals solidify patterns of appearance-based discrimination in the entertainment industry."

You can wear whatever you want to our wonderful Dreamland Festival in June--the weather will be sunny and warm, the flowers will be in bloom and, this being Nashville, music will be everywhere. Most important of all, our speakers will give you information that you just can't get anywhere else!  



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