Feminists in Brideland

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature


This article references Naomi Wolf’s 1994 essay “Brideland” to address the ease with which the wedding industry recalls the legacy of the Victorian era, a time when the prohibition on female sexuality actually testified to its power. In spite of the problematic aspects of bridal fashion and beauty, many women, including feminists, lesbians, trans women, and women of color, dream about transforming themselves into a bride. This article offers some theories about whether or not feminists can escape victimization caused by the social conditioning of the bridal industry. These modes of escape, however, are not about leaving the bridal industry altogether, but about instead buying into different types of fashion; for example, feminist brides can achieve a more modern look by adopting the minimalist fashions of the 1990s or by choosing the overly opulent looks that almost seem to parody bridal fashion. However, this essay is also careful to point out that there is no version of bridal beauty that does not implicate feminists in the social hierarchies that uphold dominant ideals of female beauty.