While in modern times, a brideís veil is often merely an accessory to the traditional white or cream bridal costume, it has a long history. It symbolises different things in different times and cultures, but it is generally designed to hide a virginís face.
Let me add that this is not a traditional African culture, but we have since adopted it anyway.
This white dress and veil topic cropped on my mind a few days ago after I stumbled across a friend’s post on the same topic on social media.
The lady was deeply disturbed and concerned after learning that having a baby out of wedlock automatically disqualifies one from wearing the veil and a pure white dress on their wedding day. I should credit her for this week’s column.
Sadly the veil issue is true, just in case you were wondering too. When you think of it, how many weddings have you attended in the past few years where the bride wore a veil? In the past 10 years, I think I attended only five. The rest didn’t even bother buying the veil; others didn’t even wear the traditional wedding dress at all!
I am not opposed to this seemingly discriminatory, even potentially embarrassing practice, well, for the sake of this new generation, I have decided to embrace it! Feminists can sit down on this one. Life is getting more and more complicated. If it’s not life threatening sexually transmitted diseases, then its people getting confused about their gender and sexual orientation. The only issue I have is that this rule though, is that it discriminates against men in a favourable way. Outdated as it seems, it’s purely meant for their benefit. It takes them up a notch or two. It is a source of pride for the bride’s family too.
The veil, as I told my daughter a few days ago, traditionally meant that the groom did not get to see the bride before they were wed. In other weird cultures in the West, a veil was also meant to protect the bride from evil spirits. So much for Africans being superstitious!
A veil is worn over the face during the marriage ceremony, and it is then lifted up discretely by the groom after the ceremony for the first kiss of the marriage. Well, nowadays brides just rock up in church on their wedding day with nothing on their heads, just their immaculately styled Brazilian weaves. They
Enough with local brides. I know I am crossing the line with fellow feminists now but you have to hear this one; Ancient Greece and Rome often also used a veil to specifically conceal the bride’s appearance.
Since most marriages were arranged, the groom was to see the bride only on the wedding day! As crass as it sounds, families didn’t want a potential spouse rejected if the groom did not find the looks of the bride appealing. As a result, the bride’s veil was a concealing device. Hello princess Fiona!
The wedding veil is said to also represent the woman’s transition from the pure and virginal state to the married state, and many modern and past cultures feel virginity prior to marriage is ideal. The white bridal costume, along with the veil, symbolises this virginity. The veil can also be seen as a symbolic representation of the hymen. A groom lifting the bride’s veil, therefore, takes on a rather bold reference to nothing else but consummation of the marriage.
Many feminists, myself excluded, argue that the veil is a continued representation of women’s subjugation to man. It implies the husband owns the wife and is, therefore, distasteful.
To them, veiling may be seen as a man’s rule, forced upon women. As a result, some modern brides simply reject the veil and equate it with man’s oppression of women. I do not think as a country we are there yet.
At the end of the day, it is not a secret that every girl dreams of a white wedding, a veil and a diamond tiara (crown) on their head. All that is possible; the trick is to take a chastity pledge, resist all temptation until you meet your knight in shining armor, whom I may just add, would most likely not be a virgin at all! I think this is what rubs feminists the wrong way.