Thursday, 20 January 2011

Big Fat Gypsy Weddings

I was prepared for Victorian style bear baiting when I switched on to Channel 4’s Big Fat Gypsy weddings, not from the titular Gypsies but from the programme makers. There was much to find humour in; the massively disproportionate dresses, the notion that the dresses weighed more than the wearer, although the crude ‘custom’ of grabbing, where the boy who has an interest, physically grabs a girl who takes his fancy with the intention of stealing a kiss under duress, is a concern. The over the top weddings and holy communions where on show in all their glory as were the gatherings and occasions of mingling.

What surprised me was the fun that they seemed to be having. The highly moral community appeared to be at odds with the provocative Beyonce influenced dancing and skimpy outfits worn by the young girls. Sleeves were obviously seen in a dim light for the boys, as they preferred to stroll around in vests and other singlet styled garments.
The main subjects were a couple, Josie and Swanley who, engaged after 1 month married after 4, took us through their wedding day with frank openness. Josie the oldest of nine went to Lanzarote on her alcohol free Hen Weekend and the site of her and her entourage kitted out in ‘Spanish ‘ style was a sight to behold.
Yes it was funny, but more laughing with than laughing at for me. The over the top clothes were put in context when we found out that a brother and sisters communion outfits were inspired by the Eddie Murphy movie Coming to America. Ideas of style and decorum may have differed but toeach their own I say. The sheer scale of the girls’ dresses bought to mind the Expo Centre of the 70s.

Their world seemed to have fixed ideas about gender and expectation and though one couldn’t help but wonder if the young people we saw would like more freedom, I felt that as a way of life it had the same sort of restrictions that other cultures have.

I look forward to seeing how the series pans out as we find out more about this community.

Links to programme

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having said that;