The Bridal Norm // Inside the Fitting Room with Michelle Avitia

 dress on hedge photo by amy gray styled by holiday celebrate dress by celia grace

When I introduce myself as a boutique bridal stylist, most folks laugh in surprise and then ask if my job is similar to the popular TLC show Say Yes to the Dress. I’m asked pointed questions like: “So are all brides bridezillas?” or, “Who’s the craziest bride you’ve ever met at work?” Because of my job, it’s impossible to avoid sexist tropes of “crazy” brides, otherwise known as “bridezillas.” I blame the network WE tv for popularizing this unfairly gendered stereotype in their show titled, you guessed it, "Bridezillas." Personally, I believe the bridezilla bride is a myth and nothing more than a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to ask for it. My job would be much easier if each of my clients knew exactly what she was looking for, but that rarely, if ever, happens. Despite the specific stereotypes associated with what I do for a living, I’ve decided to stick around because of intrigue. The wedding industry requires greater racial, gender, and sexual diversity, and as a boutique bridal stylist, there is no better place for me to begin advocating for feminist ideas than inside the fitting room.

Initially, I was anxious about taking up a career in the wedding industry because I felt it would contradict my identity as an intersectional feminist. I quickly learned that mainstream bridal magazines such as Brides, The Knot, and Bridal Guide largely feature non-poc cover models and primarily cater to cisgender straight couples. Then I realized my position as a bridal stylist is not synonymous with the dismantling of equal rights. In fact, by observing the industry and finding my place in it, I could be a part of a larger community of wedding professionals creating space for diverse representation. We need alternative wedding and bridal resources like Offbeat Bride, A Practical Wedding, and Catalyst Wed Co. to ensure a steady stream of content dedicated to showcasing racial, gender, and sexual diversity as we move forward into the Trump Presidency.

The wedding industry requires greater racial, gender, and sexual diversity, and as a boutique bridal stylist, there is no better place for me to begin advocating for feminist ideas than inside the fitting room.

Already, couples have taken matters into their own hands and are marrying before Trump’s inauguration because of his flip-flopping opinion on the issue of gay marriage, as reported by Alison Leigh Cowan in her New York Times article:

“[...] one could forgive these couples for thinking Mr. Trump may be of two minds about gay marriage. They need only revisit the interview he gave last winter to Chris Wallace on ‘Fox News Sunday,’ in which Mr. Trump said that he disagreed with the Obergefell ruling, adding, ‘If I’m elected, I would be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things.’”

As a feminist wedding professional, I have a responsibility to challenge and critique the wedding industry. I work with brides each week, and in the intimate space of a fitting room I'm told about their greatest joys and anxieties. I owe it to them to make sure they're equally represented in an industry that continually discriminates against them. Consider me an on-the-ground reporter at the heart of bridal, prepared to disrupt the wedding industry from the inside out.


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Michelle Avitia works in Los Angeles as a bridal stylist at both The Blushing Bird in Toluca Lake, and Bride Boutique LA in Echo Park. Besides styling, Michelle is a freelance writer who writes about the wedding industry from the perspective of an intersectional feminist. She also may, or may not run an anonymous twitter account that critiques the bridal industry. 

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