Slate V produces a regular Dear Prudence video blog in which Slate contributor Emily Yoffe attempts to pass on advice to people in need of help regarding manners and morals. I find this whole setup to be offensive and ridiculous. Though I understand that advice on manners is occasionally required, it is often dispensed by individuals with the most rigid, traditionalist, religious viewpoints known to man.
If H.L. Mencken or Matt Groening were passing out advice on manners, I might listen. But the only people engaged in this line of work seem to be middle-aged, conservative white women.
Ann Landers. Emily Post. Dr. Laura. Joyce Brothers. Amy Dickinson.
And now Emily Yoffe.
To be honest, the people typically seeking Yoffe’s advice come across as the kind of person that I tend not like very much:
Self centered, self involved individuals who are overly invested and indoctrinated by tradition, religion and societal norms and who are under the delusion that their minuscule problems equate to Shakespearean tragedies.
Honestly, what kind of person writes to a stranger with hopes that the public airing of their problem, accompanied by the stranger’s solution, will actually prove to be meaningful?
Take the most recent advice seeker who wrote to Prudence about being asked to serve as a maid of honor in a cartoon-themed wedding. The bride and groom, as well as their attendants, will be wearing costumes of their favorite cartoon characters on the day of the wedding. The uptight, self-absorbed maid of honor claims that she is not “horrified” by the idea but is a little uncomfortable about two hundred people staring at her during the ceremony and reception.
“Should I say something or just go along with the bride’s wishes?” she asks
Equally uppity Emily Yoffe says that she finds “noxious the trend at turning a wedding into a day-long free pass for the couple to act out their fantasies and corral innocent friends and loved ones into being decorative elements into their tableau vivant.”
She then recommends that the maid of honor inform the bride that she is “too self conscious to carry it off” and would prefer to attend the wedding as a guest.
I don’t know where to start.
First off, here is my suggestion to anyone who is invited to participate as a member of the wedding party, and especially to those so honored to be asked to serve as Best Man or Maid of Honor:
Shut the hell up and do as you’re told. This is not about you. This is a day dedicated to the couple, and whatever they want or desire is acceptable. It’s their goddamn wedding and it’s one goddamn day. Deal with it and smile.
As “noxious” as Yoffe may find it, times change. Traditions evolve. Underwear becomes less constrictive and the formality and tradition that has stifled creativity and expressions of individuality for so long are becoming a thing of the past. More noxious than a couple of cartoon fans looking to make their wedding a day to remember is a maid of honor who places her own self interest and insecurity ahead of her friend’s desires.
And I have a news flash for this maid of honor:
How will she feel when the guests at the wedding see the bride’s best friend sitting alongside them in a pretty little summer dress on her friend’s most important day of her life, rightly assuming that the bitch wouldn’t wear the Daisy Duck costume that her best friend asked her to wear?
How uncomfortable will she be feeling then?
Is she worried that the guests might assume that she dresses like a giant duck every day?
Is she concerned that the guests will make assumptions about her intelligence or character based upon her choice of anthropomorphized fowl?
I would like to assure this woman that the only self-conscious feelings that she should be feeling should be in regard to the opinions that guests will have when they discover that she was too selfish and self absorbed to agree to her best friend’s wishes on the most important day of her life.
That might be something worthy of self-consciousness.
As for Yoffe, her advice is par for the course. Safe, traditional, indoctrinated nonsense. And though I know what the phrase tableau vivant means, was this type of erudite language necessary in an advice column?
Yoffe made one other comment that ruffled my feathers a bit. In dispensing her advice, she suggested that the costume might be better than the “atrocity” that most bridesmaid are forced to wear.
Is it true that every bridesmaid dress is horrible, and if so, why do women do this to one another and then spend the rest of their lives complaining about it? And why doesn’t Yoffe come down equally hard on all of these brides for sticking their friends in dresses that they hate or make them look like fools?
What’s the difference between a pink tutu and a cartoon costume?
Whether it is pink taffeta or a chicken costume, I think that women should shut up and wear what’s been chosen without complaint.
But perhaps they should also stop choosing dresses so uniformly displeasing. I can’t think of a single circumstance in which men routinely ask one another to do something that is universally despised.
If we did so, we wouldn’t have friends.
Ladies, what gives?