Bridesmaids in China have always played an important role at wedding ceremonies. A few centuries ago, when the woman’s womb was highly valued for its ability to produce an heir, brides faced the risk of being kidnapped during their wedding ceremony. To ensure their safety, bridesmaids were dressed up like the bride.
However, as security systems improved, this role of bridesmaids was done away with. Instead, they were made to adopt roles that were even more dangerous.
At wedding events, the number of bridesmaids is seen as a sign of the power and “face” of the families joining hands in the marriage. Being judged upon their physical beauty, these bridesmaids are expected to “protect” the bride, which means they must drink on her behalf and act as a “hurdle” between her and the groom before he enters the bridal room.
This role involves allowing the groom and groomsmen to perform sexual stunts on them, which sometimes results in harassment and abuse due to an overdose of alcohol. A fear of landing a poor reputation and tarnishing their image in the society prevents these women from reporting their traumatic experiences to authorities.
Considering the situation, women in China are refusing to take on the role of being a bridesmaid at weddings. As a result, professional bridesmaids have come into demand, as people are now hiring pros to play the traditional role as part of their wedding package.
At the moment, more than 50 wedding planners in China are offering professional bridesmaids who will take part in traditional stunts, fake smiles and engineer a joyous atmosphere during the event in return for a certain amount of money.
The amount they get paid depends on the level of “difficulty” of tasks they perform. Unfortunately, the service just reinforces the idea that a woman’s body can be made available for sale or services.
It is about time that these traditional wedding practices, which are most definitely a form of sexism, are left behind for good. A recent incident in Wenchang in the Hainan province of China, led to the death of a 28-year-old bridesmaid. Apparently, she was forced to drink an excessive amount of alcohol on behalf of the bride, which resulted in her vomiting and choking to death.
While some people blamed her for not refusing the stunt, others believed that those who forced her into drinking too much should be held responsible. A Shanghai lawyer, Ma Wenbin, said that in a case of confirmed alcohol poisoning, the bridesmaid and the person who forced her to drink, as well as the hosts, should bear legal responsibilities. Shu Hai, a lawyer at Zhong Lun Law Firm in Shanghai, also said the same adding that “as an adult, she could have chosen not to drink.”
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Lucas Jackson