Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

A Traveller Wedding
Have you seen the show TLC has picked up from the UK, "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding"?  It's like a weird combination of Toddlers & Tiaras, a documentary on a secret religious society, and something from MTV all rolled into one.

Irish Travellers are a gypsy group that exists predominantly in Ireland and the UK, but also has enclaves in the U.S., not too far from me!  From what I've found online, while they used to move more frequently in caravans, they now seem to gravitate towards mobile homes.  They are often forced to move from their encampments upon eviction by the government.  They don't use indoor toilets.  They have a low life expectancy, high infant mortality rate, and tend to live in poverty.  They are mostly Roman Catholic, and make a HUGE show of First Communions and weddings.

I think what I found the most shocking about the series is the portrayal of the women.  From a young age, they are dressed in clothing that I would compare to a prostitute's wardrobe, and the show portrays even the youngest girls dancing provocatively and "strutting" in front of men.  And yet, the rules within the community, especially for women, are strangely conservative.  Women cannot approach men, they stay home to run the household.  They do not swear in front of men, and they definitely defer to them.  They never go anywhere without other women from their family.  So while they dress like street walkers, they are more conservative in their actions, in a sense, than most modern women.  They also do not drink or have sex until marriage.

They marry young; the show said many are engaged at 14, married by 17.  But given the low life expectancy, and the fact that their community is rather small, I suppose that is not too shocking.

Normal clothes for Traveller girls
It was sad to me to see how their culture is discriminated against, and I see why they have their set opinions of "gorgers", people outside their community.   I think they should have some public land set aside for them to live upon, because they are restricted from their nomadic ways to an extent; if you give them no other option, where can they go?  I don't think the community believes in property ownership, so I don't see how purchasing land for a permanent location would fit into their culture.

The only question I have is, WHERE do they come up with the money for these extravagant events?  I suppose since they live in mobile homes, which they purchase outright, they save money on living expenses.  But it just seems like such a strange way to spend your money.

Anyways, I'll stop rambling, but check out this show.  I like the documentary style and it's definitely interesting to watch, if not a bit sad.


  1. I will totally be watching this when we get back to the States! Fascinating!

  2. I am totally enraptured by this show, it's just. so. odd. I scream every episode, "HOW ARE YOU PAYING FOR THIS WEDDING??!" I mean, horse and carriage or stretch Hummer or helicopter entrance? It definitely feels like a documentary to me, especially because the community is usually so closed off to outsiders. Simon Cowell is a producer I think, and they're looking to create a new series with American travelers.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...