By Linda Wells, Editor in Chief, Allure magazine
The meaning of this warning, which I heard the other day, was immediately clear: Don't wear a slinky white dress with tiny buttons up the back on my wedding day. To a prince. And if you do, don't bend slowly, showing the world the tight perfection that is your butt, causing it to celebrate with an "Ass Appreciation" Facebook page. Bottom line: Don't upstage me.
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For reasons that continue to dishearten me, women tend to turn things like weddings and cocktail parties into competitive events. Kate Middleton, apparently, didn't feel that threat-and good for her. (Maybe it helps to know that you, not your sister, will be queen someday.) Still, a long tradition of dressing one's bridesmaids in frocks that have all the sex appeal of the Von Trapp family curtains predates the duchess.
I once stuffed a bridesmaid dress in the garbage can at the airport on my way home from a wedding. It was a slippery electric blue. At another wedding, I was trussed up in a Laura Ashley floral gown with a sweetheart neckline and an extra-voluminous skirt buoyant with crinolines. I brought that one home, where it ballooned to fill an entire closet. One night at a party, I snookered a friend's husband into parading around in it, and trust me when I tell you it looked better on him. There was most definitely no Ass Appreciation page devoted to either of us.
I don't want to assume that the brides at these weddings wanted their attendants to look like frumps. But we did, right down to the littlest flower girl.
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The beauty-contest phenomenon is not exclusive to brides, though. I once worked with a woman who scanned every party or club she entered to assess who was the prettiest in the room. It was a designation she clearly wanted to own, even though no one ever truly does. This woman would size up whomever she thought was her competition and then approach anyone who seemed threatening. Usually, that victim left the party shortly thereafter. I have no idea what my colleague said, but I do know this: Nobody Pippa'd her.
Perhaps the question in the Grimms' fairy tale, "Who's the fairest of them all?" still haunts some women. In Snow White, things didn't end so well for the evil queen, who was consumed with poisonous jealousy. Not Kate Middleton-no evil queen, she dressed her sister in a narrow white gown and let her soak up some appreciation, too.
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