I didn’t expect the story to get as much traction as it did, but it’s obvious we have social media to thank for that. I expected a few laughs and raised eyebrows here and there, but the tidal wave of opinions were quite alarming. People, especially women surprisingly, blamed Eleby’s event on everything from low self-esteem to feminism. But what I found missing from these jokes and discussions were the pressures women face to “have it all.”
Society has gone through a great leap in “rules” when it comes to what is expected of women. Where once women were expected to be seen and not heard, we are now looked upon to acquire the degrees, the career, the husband, house and kids all before 40. I am sure that most, if not all, women’s magazines have at one moment or another run an article discussing whether women can have it all. I wonder how many times such a similar article has run in a men’s magazine. The point is as long as women are expected to hit markers to determine their worthiness as humans, they will not be free.
We laugh and make fun of a woman who throws a wedding for herself, and yet we refuse to acknowledge the part these restrictions place on women. How many times have we seen or have ourselves shamed a woman for being single or childless? One need only turn to a show like Real Housewives of Atlanta to see how vicious we can be towards one another for being unable or choosing to not experience that part of life. Nowhere is nuance present to take in the millions of reasons why a person may choose to forgo that road. We build these pillars of social expectations up, and cackle and meme to our hearts consent the moment we witness someone crumble underneath them.
Yasmin Eleby has reportedly said her wedding to herself was more of a declaration of self-love than it was a statement on her singleness, and I think regardless of whatever we may personally feel it is simply best to take her word for it. In this day and age where we’re told that our worth is more tied to what we’ve garnered than how much we’ve matured as adults I can salute any person who chooses to live for themselves first and everyone else second. Eleby has said she will take herself on a globe trekking honeymoon that will include Cambodia and Dubai. And who knows, maybe this trip will be her own version of Eat, Pray, Love where it will end with her meeting someone who compliments the woman she has worked hard to be.
Valerie Charles is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She blogs at GirlAboutBk.wordpress.com. You can follow her on twitter @Vivaciously_Val