Saturday, February 21, 2009

Reflections of a Wedding Dress and Its Function

Yesterday, I went with my soon to be daughter-in-law and her mom to look at wedding dresses in Indianapolis! I enjoy these celebrations so much and really love to see the '"lovely" in the beautiful.

We left at 9:30am and didn't get home until 9:30pm, which tells you a little bit about what a great experience it was!

She had a set budget for her dress which was really "limiting to her" as far as wedding dresses go. We had been looking on the internet for used dresses for several weeks. But, because the wedding will be in September, she was a little anxious about getting this part of the shopping finished.

She had a definate syle in mind, but I knew that sometimes until one is exposed to what is "out there", one cannot be discriminating, especially on such a limited budget.

We went to 5 or 6 shops and she must have tried on 75 gowns. We found her gown at the second place we stopped, but because this is such a special occassion, I wanted to make sure that she was sure and not just buying the dress because it was in her price range. She struggled with deciding between two gowns. One was a prom dress, but it fit perfectly, was a little higher in price, but with the cleaning and alterations of the other dress, it would still fall within a similar price range. Even though she fit the prom dress perfectly and she loved it, she decided on the wedding dress. This is a wedding and not a prom, after all and even though the prom dress was beautiful, its purpose was not to 'be in a wedding'.

Wedding dresses have a special function and play a special part in setting the tone of the wedding. This is the same as the function of an individual within an organization or social structure. The question was not whether the prom gown would function as a wedding dress, although that was not it's maker's intent. It was whether it was the best for the "part". And whether the wearer of the dress would "feel" that she had sold short her "ideal" for a "function".

I think this is where dreams and pragmatism conflict, at times. Dreams are our "ideals" of life, while "how things really are" is the pragmatic experience in life. Most of us have limited "budgets" (attainment of dreams), but the question is not the "budget" but if the choice of the "pragmatic" (prom dress) is the best for the occassion (attainment of the "goal). How does pragmatism "feel" on the ones who "wear it"? Is it appropriate, or "will it "do" because of costs limitations? Are we functioning on our "budgets" (attainment of our dreams) at the costs of the pragmatic (prom dress)? And what will be the "end" (attainment of the goal, setting the tone of the wedding)?

The question is one of value, purpose, goals, function, and beauty. While goals, purposes, and function are usually forefront in our society and this is why we are a nation driven by business models, will those goals, "functions" and purposes distort values or beauty?

Values are not the considered by the unreflective, while beauty is certainly not the most important emphasis in our pragmatic society. Beauty is in the eye's of the beholder and this is why the individual is expendiable in our society, when it comes to business propositions. The individual doesn't count in a system of pragmatic interests. The individual is only a means of accomplishing the end result, which benefits the "bottom line".

While business interests do drive our nation's "purposes" there are ethical ideals that are written in our general laws. Even though individuals are protected by these laws and have a right to be informed about "government interests" and public monies, if individuals do not advantage themselves of this information, then they hinder the democratic process. Their voice is not heard and this sets up a situation where others will begin to take advantage, as many times there are loopholes to be found in our general laws.

Historically, our Nation has lived through the fights for civil liberties of many "unrepresented groups" (African Americans, woman's rights, etc.). This is what free societies are about. And fortunately, our nation's laws do protect the indivdual, because our Founding Fathers understood the individual's specificity, uniquess and right to exist apart from any other defining or limiting "function". The individual is free to choose the groups he identifies with. This is not so in socialistic or communistic systems. It is determined for you!

We are a people, because we are individuals that all have a voice. The value of the harmony of diversity, and the validity of the uniquely individual. This is freedom and justice for all and I think that my soon to be daughter in law made the right choice in choosing a dress that was designed for its future function

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