Maintenance-shaming: You don’t have to pretend you’re so cool that you’re “over” your own wedding

Guest post by LikeGraceKelly
Florals close ups

After my parents gave us a generous donation towards our wedding budget, I'll admit that I added some things that I had previously crossed off, like professional hair and makeup, or hiring an Etsy seller to do paper flowers rather than doing them myself. I don't wear a stitch of makeup in everyday life save for some tinted SPF and maybe red- or pink-tinted Chapstick if I know I'm going to be photographed. So upon hearing that I want my hair and makeup done, people say, “but you're so low-maintenance.”

So I have invented a term for what I'm going through: “maintenance-shaming.”

Here's the thing about “maintenance”… It has locked arms with “one-lowmanship,” and they are happily skipping off to see the Wizard.

You see this a lot in the beauty world: The “natural” face made with heaps of product you can only get at Sephora. The “bedhead” that took three heat styling tools and hair products made with unicorn tears. The hours spent making it seem like you don't care how you look. You definitely see it in the wedding world, where some people believe being anti-Wedding Industrial Complex means snarking on people who do make a big fuss about their big days: “Why not just get a white dress from Forever 21, go to the courthouse, and be done with it?” This, I think, is why a “rustic” aesthetic is so popular with weddings right now. It keeps weddings from being too girly, too glamorous, too… high-maintenance.

Maintenance-shaming is essentially telling a woman that she should not make a fuss about traditionally feminine things, or really that she shouldn't make a fuss about anything. It is seen as “cool” for women to be low-maintenance, the girl who is down for anything and chill about everything, as described quite colorfully in this infamous passage from Gone Girl:

“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don't they? She's a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she's hosting the world's biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size two, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don't mind, I'm the Cool Girl.”

I am partly this “Cool Girl,” this Millennial version of the “women should be seen and not heard” housewife. I live with three male roommates and my partner. They will readily admit to you that I drink more beer than they do and have the most raunchy, sarcastic, “Cards Against Humanity“-esque sense of humor. But I also love to go shopping, can bake up a storm, and will readily stop a woman on the street to tell her that her shoes are out of this world. I was a camp counselor for four summers in college and, though I lived in my Chacos, I also liked for my nail polish color to match the design on my Chacos.

That's the thing: my wedding is complicated because I'm complicated. It's not Wedding Industrial Complex, it's me complex. We're having a curated playlist in lieu of a DJ, and barbecue for dinner because I'm the Cool Girl, but I'm also wearing heels and getting my hair and makeup done because I am a Pretty Pretty Princess. More than one personality type can fit within a person—revolutionary!

Now, I understand that having a low budget kind of forces your hand in being low-maintenance (“maybe I WANT someone to do my hair and makeup but I can't AFFORD it, geez gah, Grace!”), but this philosophy still applies. If you want the “charming” pink teacups from Goodwill rather than the “cool” Mason jars marked down at Michael's, get the damn pink teacups. They sound bitchin'. My point is, you are not Maru the cat — you do not need to fit into a box someone puts in front of you.

You don't have to pretend that you're so cool that you're “over” your own wedding if you want to be excited about centerpieces and shoes. As Ariel said in this article,

“Engaged women don't need another voice telling them they're failing. It doesn't matter if it's a voice of tradition telling them they're wrong for wanting to have their wedding in the round, or a voice of non-tradition telling them they're wrong for wanting to wear a white dress — brides need encouragement and support.”

A-men.

Comments on Maintenance-shaming: You don’t have to pretend you’re so cool that you’re “over” your own wedding

  1. Ug YES. There is this weird thing with being a girl that you’re expected to like all the girly things, but not too much or you’re not a cool girl anymore. You’re expected to plan a perfect wedding and have opinions on all this stuff, but god forbid you’re actually excited about it or bring it up in conversation. Weirdly I feel this the most from my liberal, well educated female friends- wanting to be married or do anything traditional carries this weird unspoken shame. I have to remind myself constantly that it’s ok to have been dreaming of my wedding since I was 13. That’s not an anti – feminist position or whatever. That’s just me, I like weddings. And that’s ok.

    • I hear ya on the shame. It’s unfortunate that in feminist circles feminine things are looked down upon (as with society in general). The woman who builds her own bridal fashion empire is just as feminist as the woman who is a kick-boxing rocket scientist. We should celebrate ALL women who kick ass.

    • “You’re expected to plan a perfect wedding and have opinions on all this stuff, but god forbid you’re actually excited about it or bring it up in conversation. ”

      Oh THIS. THIS so hard. I am so lucky that my friends are sympathetic to my desire to talk about wedding stuff (I love weddings so talked about other people’s to them incessantly before we even started planning our own). Nevertheless I feel so conscious that wedding talk is deemed dull but pulling off a wedding that is perfect, classic, unique, personal, meaningful, rich in tears in laughter, aesthetically pleasing, highly styled and traditional in all but one tasteful positive-conversation-provoking respect is Expected. Le sigh!

  2. I love, love, love this post. I’ve unexpectedly bumped up against “maintenance shaming” with someone I would never have expected-my dad. In my attempts to find a dress that is uniquely me (now being made for me and it’s going to be AWESOME) he told me that I was buying into the Wedding Industrial Complex because of pushing for something tailored to my specifications in the color and style I wanted. I patiently explained to him that underneath my everyday lack of fuck-giving, I’m actually a fashionista who wants to look fabulous at all times and that my wedding is as good an excuse as any to really go all out.

    I actually think this post applies to so much more than just weddings-it’s valid for everyday life, too. We’re all multifaceted, dammit, don’t put us in boxes!

    -a fellow sarcastic, beer-loving, “cool girl”, baking, shoe-lover

    • My dad is kind of maintenance-shame-y as well, but then again he just generally gripes about how different weddings are today than from when he got married 30 years ago and, of course, how much everything costs. PREACH PREACH PREACH on the “I want to look fabulous at all times and that my wedding is as good an excuse as any to really go all out.” When you look good, you feel good!

  3. “I also liked for my nail polish color to match the design on my Chacos.”
    Word.

  4. YES! Kind of like Lee said, I think this stems from the bigger problem of people thinking they’re progressive and shaming women for liking traditionally feminine things.

  5. Amen sister! Just because I am a camp counselor/horseback riding instructor/lifeguard certified/beer drinking girl whose day job is dispatching truck drivers- doesn’t mean I can’t have a love affair with all things glitter and a poofy dress! Why should I ever choose to fit one mold when my cupcake trays have a dozen!

    • “Why should I ever choose to fit one mold when my cupcake trays have a dozen!”
      Erica, 2015

      May I steal this quote please? It is just perfect

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