Contemporary wedding cultures, in Western heterosexual forms, tend to perpetuate normative femininity, women's visual accessibility, and women's position as clean and mannered bodies. Trash the Dress (TTD) postwedding sessions repeat and trouble these cultural conceptions. Photographers work with married women in TTD sessions and document them wearing white wedding dresses while wandering through the country, posing in dilapidated surroundings, jumping into dirty water, and covering themselves in mud. Many women then discuss and portray these events in Internet wedding forums. In these settings, women pleasurably gaze at erotic images of women; compliment the women who post; imagine how emotionally painful it is to get dresses dirty; and remember the sticky, erotic, and disturbing aspects of being wet and filthy. TTD representations of revolting fluids and soiled bodies, which women incorporate into their sessions, may briefly encourage viewers to look, but they are difficult to gaze at. These women's engagements with TTD images, other women, and dirt are notable because they trouble the bounded body, problematize the ways lens-based media has enabled men to look at women, and offer women a form of pleasure and desire that is not so easily correlated with traditional weddings and femininity.
Michele White; Dirty Brides and Internet Settings: The Affective Pleasures and Troubles with Trash the Dress Photography Sessions. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 July 2011; 110 (3): 645–672. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-1275824
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