Gabby Sidibe cover is my first time reading a bridal magazine

Image for article titled Gabby Sidibe made me want to read "Flanges"  Magazine.  What is happening?

Photo: Bridal Magazine/Erich McVey

Gabby Sidibe isn’t even married yet and hasn’t set a wedding date or venue, but Brides magazine said, “Just put her on the blanket.” And frankly, they made me want to open this magazine in the grocery store queue for the very first time.

I’ve never been the scribble-your-perfect-wedding-dress-on-girl-in-the-office; no first and last name of my love interest in cursive letters engraved in my notebook. I didn’t have any wedding mood boards (or a Pinterest page, which I guess is the thing right now). To be clear, I was a fashion magazine collector as a teenager, but bridal photos were boring — most of them featured slim white women in princess dresses with princess-cut diamonds. Everything princess. I didn’t care about diamonds, and white bread sandwiches and tulle seemed bland and itchy. The bridal magazines just never sold a body type or happiness brand that I could buy into.

Where were the women who looked like me filling the page? Where was the culture, the dynamism and the fun? This is how actress, podcast host and author Gabourey Sidibe describe her version of a perfect marriage in the latest issue of Brides— a big “fun party”, full of bright colors and life. “Our lives are anything but cookie-cutter and traditional,” she said of her relationship with her fiancé, Brandon Frankel. Now it’s something I can sink my teeth into.

Sidibe says traditional dresses, weddings, really anything traditional is just not for her and her fiancé, and I feel that. Gabby and Brandon are random and eclectic, and that’s what makes them great: She’s a former phone sex operator turned actress and witch podcast host; he is the head of partnerships at NoCap, a concert streaming company. “He’s the partner I thought was too independent to need,” she said. How beautiful and relatable as a black woman.

Image for article titled Gabby Sidibe made me want to read "Flanges"  Magazine.  What is happening?

I’m gonna take a chance and assume Gabby agrees with me when I say that traditional marriages often feel…colonial. Giving yourself property to someone seems really anti-black, and honestly, you can all have that. But Gabby really looks like she’s doing it right, doing it herself way.

Plus, it’s just refreshing to see a curvy black woman like me on the cover of a magazine like this. The message has always been that big black women don’t get happy endings or fairy tale marriages, and so wedding dress companies don’t even see the point in trying to dress us up. But you can’t look at Gabby’s bridal cover and not find this absolutely gorgeous woman beaming with happiness.

Can we also just pause for the cause and say to be praying to the makeup artist who killed that flawless foundation? In a world where cosmetics still struggle to match darker-skinned women, this color matching and pigmentation is amazing.

But what drives this house for me are the head-to-toe Senegalese braids and the sumptuous pink African print dress on the blanket. We get the cowries in the braids, just like, “Fuck what you heard.” I am that GURL! I want this for her!! After so many people commented on Gabby’s height, transformation, and body choices, sis has more than earned this carefree freedom.

Image for article titled Gabby Sidibe made me want to read "Flanges"  Magazine.  What is happening?

Do you have to be luscious, brunette, taking up space, in canary yellow tulle, and not giving a damn? Yes, we should. Not only is the hair laid, but her eyes give us full service – a song of praise – a lead.

Image for article titled Gabby Sidibe made me want to read "Flanges"  Magazine.  What is happening?

Next, we see Gabby dressed in white. And although she says she probably won’t wear white to her wedding, she convinced me that being black in pure white, smiling, gaping mouth, bare breasts, is a form of revolution. There is healing in the ease with which she is here.

Image for article titled Gabby Sidibe made me want to read "Flanges"  Magazine.  What is happening?

These photos cry: There is no one size fits all brides or all weddings. We are allowed to organize and shape the day we want on our own terms.

Image for article titled Gabby Sidibe made me want to read "Flanges"  Magazine.  What is happening?

When do we get to have oh my-ed thick thighs? When else can we frolic among the flowers, because we are head over heels in love and with someone who curls our toes? Rarely. When are we celebrated in this way? Scroll through Brides websites Tab “Real Weddings,” and Gabby is the only plus-size black woman there. This moment was long overdue.

For me, it was more than an engagement story or a bridal fashion series. It gives millions of other curvy black women permission to be vibrant or freaky or fancy or however we want. And if anyone has anything to say about it, we’ll put a spell on you.

Image for article titled Gabby Sidibe made me want to read "Flanges"  Magazine.  What is happening?

About Raymond A. Bentley

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