Tuesday, April 03, 2012

My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

Last Friday I was very tired and decided in order to stay awake and take care of baby, I would have to turn the television on (I don’t usually like to turn the telly on too much with the baby around, because she stares at it and I can just see the brain cells atrophying.). Began flipping the channels around and caught onto this scene of a girl in a huge wedding dress, like something out of “Gone With the Wind.” What the heck??!!

Turns out it was My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding on TLC. Have you seen it?! Its this series from England that follows the weddings of the English Gypsy and Irish Traveller’s communities. The what you might be saying…I was of the same mind. I had no idea there were still gypsies living in England, practicing gypsies. These are not the stereotypical gypsies one pictures in one’s mind, with the bandanas and gold hoop earrings wearing women, but rather typical English people. I swear if I saw them on the street, I would think they are just typical English folk. Apparently they are highly discriminated against in England and Ireland, they are practicing Catholics, they have huge families, they still live somewhat nomadic lives and what was most surprising to me, they maintain the cultural norms of under educating their women.

The show follows these gypsy girls through their big day and I say girls because most of the brides are age 17 or 18. There was one at 22 who was considered old. All the girls interviewed indicated that they had been pulled out of school around age 12 or 13 and that was fine with them because their aim in life was to be a wife. The show emphasized how the girls lead very sheltered lives, how none of the girls were allowed to go out of the house without their parent’s permission, how the girls generally only dated one person, always lived at home before marriage and followed their parent’s strictures. All of this, fair enough but what bothered me was that for all this talk of being so sheltered, these girls all dressed like prostitutes! Daisy Duke Shorts, tiny tops and than I noticed when pictures would be snapped of the girls, pre-wedding, they would often be in VERY provocative poses, like something out of Playboy. Also, all the girls would dance like something out of a heavy metal or rap video.

The whole thing is just creepy to me, I can’t place my finger on it, but I just feel like there is more going on behind the scenes than we the audience are privy too. For instance, none of the dad’s in the series seem to have super steady and high paying jobs and yet they can all afford these exorbitantly priced dresses and in the back of mind is the stories I’ve heard of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of minors in the gypsy community.

Good luck trying to find information on this secretive society, I’ve tried and there is little out there….


Blogger Enid and Ciaran said...

I watch this show too. It's really quite shocking. All the girls aspire to be is a "Bride". Many find themselves in loveless violent marriages. Really awful.

Did you see the scars that the weight of the wedding dresses leave behind on the girls? Many have to put diapers on their hips as padding to prevent their bodies being cut up from the weight of the dress. Shocking!!!

But a highly entertaining show, all the same!

12:58 PM  
Blogger Secret Agent Woman said...

I just googled and see that I can watch episodes on-line, so I will check it out. But keep women oppressed - already not liking that!

8:45 PM  
Blogger Virginia Gal said...

Enid and Ciaran - welcome! I wish they would show us more of after the wedding, because I definitely feel like there is abuse in the background that we don't get to see. But you are right, highly entertaining!

Secret Agent - you might get frustrated but I would love your insights : )

9:50 PM  

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