Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Susan Perryman

Whatever your personal feelings are towards traditional marriage, I haven't met too many people who can't help but watch the addicting TLC show "Say Yes to the Dress".

Most of it is cringe worthy.

Brides who want to look like "Barbie".

Brides who repeat the phrase that they "can't make a decision without him." (the fiance)

Brides who spend ridiculous amounts of their parents earnings to have the "Dream Dress".

All that aside, its a pretty fabulous show. And to the credit of its producers, it presents a range of different types of people. As much as they possibly can anyways, given the limits of Kleinfeld's typical clientele.

There was a lesbian couple,

a woman who wanted to wear as much pink as possible,

and then Susan Perryman.

I don't know much about Susan. Anything at all really. But in her 15 minutes of spotlight on SYTTD, she inspired me more than anyone else in the entire series and made me think more about what it takes to be an individual than what it takes to be a bride. Which selfishly, makes me feel better about watching the show. :)

Susan is from the south, marrying the love of her life (most are), and from a traditional, conservative family that LOVES and HONORS its traditions. Her great-grandmother purchased a dress in the 60's that has been worn by 6 other relatives, including Susan's mother and sister. It is expected that when you get married, you will wear the long, satin, boat neck gown that has gone down the aisle many times before.

Susan has decided against this pre-set destiny. She is getting married in Mexico, on the beach, and doesn't want all that fabric. AND she wants to look and feel sexy. As her episode goes through the normal motions, Randy (the style guru of the store), nonchalantly verbalizes this feeling much to the dismay of her mother and aunt. Susan doesn't bat an eye however and says, "Yes! exactly." Then it cuts to her declaring that there is nothing wrong with feeling sexy.

This seems rather small in the grand scheme of our society. This sort of thing has been exclaimed to the point of over-exclamation. Except in Susan's world. You can tell her family is not comfortable with these ideas of hers. Yet, she goes forward, determined to do as she feels is best in her life. In the end, her family totally supports her, but you can see she did take a risk with her rebellion.

All of this got me thinking, how am I brave in my daily choices? Who are any of us standing up to? I feel like Susan affected me so much because she was a living example that the struggle for individuality is something that is completely personal. She had to know that she would create some type of hurt feelings within her family, but she also probably suspected that the choice she was making was a choice that the rest of her family had avoided. These "go against the flow" decisions can sometimes rip families apart. You can't help but feel encouraged by her sheer lack of fear in the face of a very real adversity. There are many times where I do and say things because I don't want to hurt those that I love. You can say its just consideration for family values, but values become outdated and aren't always as "valuable" as advertised.

Sure, in the current feminist environment, Susan is relatively outdated and potentially anti-progressive (heteronormative marriage and all). But I wonder what her stance will mean within her family and her immediate world? How will this affect her mother, aunt, and the rest of the women that wore the dress because it was what was expected of them? Maybe their own needs and wants will now be awakened and they will begin to value their own individuality. She has definitely affected me and I would have to assume others who watched her episode. Susan was a great reminder of the ripple that can be created when a female thinks for herself, no matter what the circumstance. In a time that is craving a new wave of feminist energy, even a ripple will surely produce some type of lasting change.

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