The bridal industry and our ever-outlandish Pinterest culture have given birth to a disturbing new trend: baby bridal photography. People are dressing their babies up as brides.
Oh, that's cute, right? I mean, people dress infants up as dragons and Ruth Baby Ginsberg all the time. It's not like PETA is going to throw a can of paint on a baby dressed as a delicious lobster. Well, ephemera would be one thing, but no, the long game of the trend is to show these pictures at the baby's wedding.
People are dressing their babies up as brides now so they have the photo as a prop for when the baby gets married.
I can appreciate this on a commitment level. Some people pose their kid by the same teddy bear from birth until its hair starts thinning and he takes a job in middle management. You do you, Pinterest moms. The problem I have with this trend, specifically, is it seems to set the tone for the girl's life. I mean, it's fine, but only as long as parents are also posing the same baby in a college graduation cap for viewing at that ceremony. Why not pose a baby sitting at a comfortable cubicle with a yogurt container next to the keyboard bearing its name written in a Sharpie? Zany realism!
Oh, who am I to judge – I took a picture of my girls playing in my wedding dress once on a whim. It is kind of fun. However, buying them their own baby-sized wedding dress and staging a picture with the caption, "Miss so-and-so for now . . ." seems creepy.
Let's ask ourselves, are the boys doing it?
Where is the photography micro trend of baby gentlemen in tuxedos offering rubber diamond teething rings to the camera? It just seems like we're sinking back into the same cultural narrative that got us in the kitchen in the first place. Girls obsess about weddings while guys float through the first half of their lives indifferent to commitment. What's that old saying? Women worry until they're married and men don't start worrying until after? That may have a shred of truth to it, but let's not plaster reinforcements to the wall for our daughters to wake up to every morning. "Hi! Here is baby-you wearing a wedding dress. Eye on the prize, Grace'Lynn!"
My middle daughter, through no prompting of outside influences, plays "wedding" every day. Her favorite movie is Frozen, which is about sisters and feminism and riding a horse into the mountains, yet there she is putting a pillow case on her head pretending a prince is coming to get her. She can have her fun, but the very least I can do as a parent is guide her to education and self-reliance. Having a photography session that basically tells her, "get excited about the only thing that matters: getting married" is the opposite of good momming.
Come on, parents. There is more to aspire to as women than marriage, right? WHY ARE THESE CRICKETS CHIRPING?
Marriage is a great part of life. I'm not knocking that. What's weird though is acting like it's the culmination of adulthood. Some people get married at 18 thinking they will get respect as grown ups and then disaster ensues. Some people wait until 40, after decades of stability. Let's teach our children you are a grown-up when you can stand on your own two feet and make smart choices for yourself. If it's marriage, great. If it's an apartment in the city and a job with health insurance, yay.
What about life beyond the wedding anyway? Are these tiny baby brides, groomed for marriage from their own conception, going to be traumatized when the rice is thrown and there is no more big day to look forward too? Talk about a let down.
Something I've been struggling with a little bit personally is the letting go of the season of my life with small children. For so long I wanted to be a mom. Then I was a new mom. Then I had a bit of experience and then another baby. I was overwhelmed, but just as I learned to juggle, along came a third baby and it was an avalanche. It was nothing but excitement from the moment I got engaged – a wedding, three babies, two houses. Go, go, go.
I'm finally at the point where my youngest is walking and sleeping while my oldest is gone all day to school. The calm is setting in, but I'm realizing with no one needing me, where do I find my value? (Answer: Internetting!)
Where do we go from here if we're groomed our whole lives that a wedding and our roles as mothers are the only things that give us worth?
Baby bridal photography needs to go the way of the hope chest. We don't need more reinforcements that girls are only bred to be mothers and wives. Those are important aspects of life, but they are not all there is to look forward to.
There is life after a wedding and long after children. Let's give our daughters hope that their entire lives have worth. Personally, I prefer the "babies dressed as old people" trend anyway.
If you insist on baby bridal photography in spite of the terrible message and you promise it's all in fun, just remember, when the big day comes in 2045, you will be showing that picture to a room full of people who just want you to finish your goddamn speech already and feed them cake.