March 28, 2011

{End of the Myth} Part One: "Romantic Haze"

[excerpt from the upcoming book - The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: How Princess Diana Exposed the 'Princess Myth' for All Women]


Dreams of being rescued by a prince were not only part of Diana Spencer’s girlhood fantasies, but princes and princesses were real people in the world she lived in. She was the daughter of an Earl, a member of one of the oldest families in British aristocracy, and grew up familiar with members of the royal family, attending birthday parties and special events hosted by royalty.

“Looming large in her romantic haze,” Tina Brown wrote, “was the face she had framed in her school dormitory, a real Prince Charming…the most eligible bachelor in the whole United Kingdom, the twenty-first Prince of Wales.” Charles was known for his “daring exploits on the polo field and ski slopes…parachuting out of combat planes,” making him a heart-throb for the country’s young girls and perhaps why Diana fell in love with the dashing image when she thought she was in love with the man.

Biographer Sally Bedell Smith wrote that “during the courtship, she seemed enchanted mainly by the idea of becoming a princess.” Then added these insights: “Diana idealized marriage as a fantasy that contrasted sharply with Charles’ elaborately considered view. In contemplating marriage to Charles, Diana supposedly told friends that she felt secure for the first time in her life.” 

With different expectations of love, partnership, royal duties and marriage, the relationship began breaking down early. “But this was the marriage of the heir to the throne, and Diana and Charles were locked into position,” Smith explained. “They would both keep pretending, without fully understanding the consequences of their charade.” ~

[Other excerpts from the "End of the Myth" chapter of The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride upcoming book can be found by clicking on End of the Myth in the Labels list.]

March 21, 2011

{The Goddess Bride} Part Four: "Playing Dress-Up"

[excerpt from the upcoming book - The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: How Princess Diana Exposed the 'Princess Myth' for All Women]

Is “feeling like a goddess” part of the allure of little girls playing dress-up? Not just their imaginations conjuring up ways to turn themselves into a fairy princess or princess bride; or a glamorous movie queen; or a bold and beautiful heroine; or a dazzling rock star, but is it in the act of dress-up play itself that they actually feel being divine, regal and goddess-like? I believe that we “remember” our spiritual origin when we’re babies and little children before that ethereal sense diminishes as life takes its weighty toll. But in this “between the veils” space we still have an awareness of the essence of who we really are. So perhaps in the games of playing dress-up, little girls are simply acting out their true divine nature.

I mentioned in an earlier chapter some of my own remembrances of playing dress-up as a little girl. Here’s something I wrote years ago about the intimate connection of costume with little and big girls:

I think that most women keep their little girl attraction for the mystique and drama of wearing clothes as an imaginative costume. My mother told me a story of how I never tired going up and down the stairs in our old two-story house in one of her long bias-cut nightgowns, saved from her trousseau. I remember taking such pleasure in how the silky fabric of the much too long gown would drag behind me, following me up the staircase, feeling as though it was some sensuous extension of my cosmic aura! What is it about the mesmerizing allure of the train?  Is it the appeal of the deeply feminine way it makes us feel, a certain inner and outer grandeur; or does it fulfill a fairy-tale princess longing; or something more primal, akin to the mating ritual of a rare exotic bird? 

In my former retail bridal shop, I enjoyed observing brides-to-be return to this little girl fantasy when trying on wedding gowns with trains. As they walked around, feeling the slight pull or tug of the train, they would twist slightly and look back to watch the fabric swish and drape and puddle. It was as if she was in a trance, like witnessing some mystical dance.  

A favorite story I shared with brides—borrowed from legend as well as from my own imagination—told how the train is like an extension of the bride’s presence, and on the day of her wedding, as she moves down the aisle, she ‘leaves blessings in her wake.’  Is this regal extension of a woman’s essence actually something rather divine and goddess-like that little girls instinctively know all about? Is it why “being a bride” has such a strong appeal for some women, thinking there is no other way to feel like a goddess? ~

[Other excerpts from "The Goddess Bride" chapter of The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride upcoming book can be found by clicking on "The Goddess Bride" in the Labels list below.]

March 20, 2011

{Royal Wedding Redux}

[This is a reprint from the spring issue of Season magazine, page 115. The article is excerpted from my upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: How Princess Diana Rescued the Damsel in Distress {& Other Princess Myths Revealed}.]


In English tradition, wedding vows are a morning affair, and if we were to catch the first glimpse of the beautiful bride, we needed to be “front and center” very early. My friends and I were a little old for a slumber party, but as we gathered in our pajamas at 4 a.m. in front of my television in Atlanta, Georgia, the anticipation and giddiness was “ageless.”  It was July 29, 1981, and like millions of people around the world, we prepared to watch the royal wedding of Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles of England. (We even had snacks to match the occasion: scones and fig jam, and Earl Grey tea with lemon—perhaps not only to feed our early morning hunger, but also to feed some inherent dreams of being a princess.)

As the world welcomes a new English princess this spring (and perhaps future queen), we are reminded of that dazzling royal wedding 30 years ago this July. It was a landmark event broadcast in 74 countries and watched around the world by over 750 million people—including me and my pajama-party friends!

The moment Diana stepped out of that fairy-tale glass coach on her wedding morning with endless yards of silk train magically materializing with her—as the gown designers expressed, “like seeing a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis”—she had us hook, line and sinker. Princess Diana did not invent our fascination with royalty, however her wedding ushered in a whole new ballgame—and the world was never quite the same.

As the first worldwide media spectacular, and probably the defining event of the eighties—a decade in which style so often trumped substance—the glittering event brought ceremonial weddings back in style almost overnight. It resurrected the bridal industry from the social upheavals of the previous two decades and set the pace for a new era of fancy wedding hoopla: elaborate designer gowns; staged over-the-top productions; refined Martha Stewart details; and the wedding as a “consumer rite.” (Sound familiar?)

Since the same media blitz followed Diana and Charles’ soap-opera marriage and messy divorce, many people became wary of fairy tales and princesses. Nonetheless, the royal buzz was on again last fall when tall, handsome Prince William and his beautiful, longtime girlfriend announced their engagement. But there was a difference!

Although Kate Middleton is not “blue-blooded,” she has other qualities that were more important to William. Thanks in part to his mother cracking open the staid British monarchy, the centuries old practice of marrying for dynastic duty only was found wanting and Prince William was free—and savvy enough—to choose to marry from his heart’s desire.

So not only was the return to elegant wedding pageantry part of Diana’s legacy, but her most lasting legacy just may be Kate Middleton—and the more egalitarian world open to her as she becomes a confident, modern and “true-blooded” princess of the realm! ~

[This is a reprint from the spring issue of Season magazine, page 115. The article is excerpted from the upcoming book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: How Princess Diana Exposed the 'Princess Myth' for All Women. Click on "Season Magazine in the Labels list below for other reprints.]

March 9, 2011

{The Goddess Bride} Part Three: "Brigit Returns"

[excerpt from the upcoming book - The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: How Princess Diana Exposed the 'Princess Myth' for All Women]

Even the origin of the word bride comes from the legend of the goddesses. In her book, The Ancient British Goddess, Kathy Jones tells us that in Celtic ancestral wisdom, Brigit—also known as Bride in its Gaelic form—is the maiden goddess of springtime. It makes perfect sense that an origin of our bridal traditions comes from the essence of spring: an abundant, life-giving time of renewal and beauty. I share stories in my book, The Bride’s Ritual Guide: Look Inside to Find Yourself, about Brigit/Bride as the goddess “who gave her name to a woman about to wed. Therefore, as a bride, you are the namesake of a goddess!”

In other folklore, Brigit became known as the White Swan author Kathy Jones tells us. Tales from all over Europe and Asia depict “swans flying in to land on lakes where they remove their feathers and become beautiful young women.” As they bathe, the maidens are spied upon by local, love-stuck lads who long to marry them. These charming old stories—where “Swan maidens and Princes are changed through love”—continue their magic into the present with this lyrical description of brides of today dressing in “fine, lacy, white Swan gowns with ballooning skirts which fluff up like Swan feathers, then veiling themselves like the Goddess Bride herself to reveal their beauty only to their Chosen One.”

Kathy Jones, who is a Priestess of Avalon, shares that “Bride is the original Goddess whom all human Bridegrooms honour when they marry human Brides.”  The influence of a legendary heritage realized! No other bridal image conjures up this Swan goddess vision—as a “sign of Brigit’s return”—than that of Lady Diana Spencer on her wedding morning in her shimmering bridal plumage! ~

[Other excerpts from "The Goddess Bride" chapter of The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride upcoming book can be found by clicking on "The Goddess Bride" in the Labels list below.]