BY EMILY LARSON
Being a bridesmaid in Chinese culture could potentially be deadly.
So much so that brides are hiring women to be in their wedding party.
That is a stark difference from the matrimonial traditions that the United States is used to.
My wedding is an event I have been dreaming about since I was two-feet tall.
Like many little girls, I thought up fantasies of luminous dangling lights, a magnificent white ball gown, exquisite flowers draped across every surface, a handsome man to say “I do” and my best friends by my side on the big day.
American weddings are known to be extravagant affairs to celebrate the joining of two lovebirds. It is an occasion that is worshiped by our society and most other societies.
There are entire movies and television shows in honor of it like “Say Yes to the Dress” and the 2011 film, “Bridesmaids.”
My mom and I have always enjoyed watching popular TLC show and drooling over the ornate gowns.
In each episode, the bride often brings family members and her bridesmaids to help her choose which dress suits her best.
Having the people in your life you love the most become a part of this special process is a no-brainer for most American brides, not for Chinese brides though.
In a recent story by the New York Times, there was a 28-year-old bridesmaid who died after being pressured to drink an exorbitant amount of alcohol.
In China, bridesmaids are a symbol of high family status based on the number of them and their attractiveness. Bridesmaid traditions go way back in Chinese history.
According to RawStory, a Chinese bridesmaid’s purpose used to mainly be to protect the bride from rival clans who wanted to bring harm to her.
This meant they were subject to horrible things like kidnapping, robbing and physical abuse.
Nowadays, weddings are more of a social display of the families involved.
Just like the elements of a wedding- venue, flowers, food, etc.- the bridesmaids are considered a part of the elaborate display.
The more of them, the prettier they are, the more highly regarded the bride’s family is. But they still carry on the tradition of protecting the bride.
The bridesmaids are forced to fend off drinking requests by drinking potent alcohol like rice wine all night themselves.
Before the groom can “have” his bride that night, he and his groomsmen must “overcome” the bridesmaids.
This is typically done through a series of sexual innuendos and acts the women of the wedding party are forced to perform.
This can start off as the simple act of one of the ladies licking a banana, but tends escalate to sexual abuse and inappropriate stunts.
In the most extreme cases these poor women can be attacked or have their clothes taken off and raped.
The threat of this happening to your closest friends on what is supposed to be a joyous day is ridiculous.
No wonder they are hiring women to be in the bridal party.
I would never want this to be done to the people I love.
If the only way to protect them and maintain appearances was to hire women, I would do it too.
The core of this issue is a lack of respect. The men do not respect the women enough to even leave them alone on a sacred day.
Mistreating these ladies is sport to them. That is wrong.
Where did morality go? My hope is that someday soon, the men of China will realize the error of their ways and the maltreatment will end.
Until then, good luck to the future Chinese brides and their bridesmaids.