One trend I've noticed a lot of recently is that of wearing animal masks during a wedding or engagement shoot and I don't think that brides are aware of the sexual message that this sends to everyone else. I've seen pictures of couples embracing each other in what would be a loving engagement shot, where they should be looking longingly into each other's eyes, only you can't see the couple's eyes because each of their faces is concealed beneath a plastic animal mask. If you've never witnessed this trend in action before, it's quite startling to run across one of these shots. I've seen animal masks used at weddings for everything from engagement shoots like the one mentioned above, to pictures of guests on the dance floor. I've even seen the entire wedding party lined up with animal masks covering their faces or posed in awkward positions around trees, stuffed bears, and other various things that might come across as artistic. And the masks? These animal masks range from full on rubberized horse heads to more simple plastic tiger masks that you might find at a four year old's party -- and pretty much everything in between.
I imagine that brides choose to use animal masks in their weddings and engagement shoots to give it a sense of fun, spice things up a bit, create artistic and offbeat photo opportunities for their photographers, and more likely than not because they saw another happy couple using animal masks on a favorite wedding blog -- and I don't blame them for it. In fact, I applaud them for doing exactly what they want at their own wedding. However, I am not sure that all these brides are aware of the sexual notes that these photos are giving off.
Masks have traditionally been used for everything from hiding emotions to portraying feelings to large audiences as they did in classic Greek theatre. In some cultures, masks are used during ceremonies to portray a transformation or to mark an important milestone. But in recent times, masks have been used in popular movies to symbolize for sexual neurosis, and I can't help but think of orgies and other sex acts I've seen portrayed on the big screen when I see animal masks used in weddings. I'm also willing to bet that I'm not the only who has had this thought cross their mind.
Whenever I see a picture of a wedding party wearing animal masks I think immediately of two movies, neither of which you'd call "wedding appropriate;" "Eyes Wide Shut" and "The Shining." In "Eyes Wide Shut" the climax of the movie comes during a sexual high mass conducted in a Tudor castle with masked guests. The purpose of the masks? To hide one's identity during a clandestine sexual orgy of course!
In "The Shining," Shelly Duvall is walking up the stairs, a knife in hand, and what does she see through the bedroom door? A man in a bear suit performing fellatio on another (much more silent) man in a tuxedo. It is often regarded as the strangest scene in the entire movie, and definitely the only one involving an animal mask.
Perhaps it is because these two movies were popular before the time of many of the brides getting married today, but I know I'm not the only one who thinks "sex cult orgy" and "furry fellatio" when I see couples wearing animal masks while embracing in their engagement and wedding photos. Brides ought to know that when granny raises her eyebrows after being passed an animal mask, it may not be because she's worried that the strap is going to mess up her hair.