Paper Dolling: Is This Happening?

An article by Sandy Malone was published by HuffPo the other day. In it, she tells the harrowing story of a client of her wedding planning service and what happened to her when she went shopping at an unnamed bridal salon in Waltham, Mass.

According to Malone, the bride informed the salon of her size (though I have to say I’m puzzled as to why an ‘average sized’ woman should have to do that) and was told it would be ‘no problem.’ I should certainly hope there would be no problem fitting an average sized woman in a reasonably well-stocked bridal salon. And while samples rarely fit brides precisely, there certainly ought to be a few gowns in a size close enough that a woman can try some things on to get a general idea of how they might look on her.

Apparently, this was not the case.

It seems that what the salon did instead of putting an ill-fitting dress on the bride and asking her to use her imagination as to how it will look when it is properly fitted, the consultant took the gown and began pinning it to the bride’s undergarments in front… in a tiny room with mirrors on three sides and only a flimsy curtain on the fourth wall. This process, apparently, is called ‘paper dolling.’ To add insult to injury, when the bride’s friends wanted to see what the consultants were oohing and ahing over in that tiny cubicle, one of them simply threw open the curtain, exposing the bride’s panty-clad backside to all and sundry without warning.

The bride, of course, was pretty traumatized by this experience, as would be any right-thinking person. Paper dolling sounds pretty useless. After all, a dress needs to be seen in three dimensions to get the full effect, and wedding gowns in particular need to be seen from the back, because during the ceremony, chances are that’s what your friends and family will be seeing the most of. Most bridal couples do stand facing the officiant who faces the witnesses.

On top of that, the sudden and completely insensitive near-indecent exposure of the bride was appalling. You ask first whether the bride wishes to show off the dress she’s trying on, and if it’s not actually on her, this is an extra vital step.

Malone winds up the article with a warning to all brides to shun this pernicious practice, which is excellent advice. I, too, would counsel brides not to allow a salon to ‘paper doll’ them into a dress.

But here’s the interesting thing. When I googled the term and several variations on it… I got only Malone’s original article from two days ago, and a whole lot of articles about making or collecting actual paper dolls. Is this one shop in Waltham the one place in the world that does this? Is there another reason the term might not get a lot of hits in bridal terms?

Has anyone out there heard about this anywhere else? Known someone subjected to it? Survived the experience themselves?

Curiouser and curiouser.

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