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Hen nights and costumes. Just why?

(25 Posts)
peppapighastakenovermylife Thu 11-Aug-11 09:58:03

I was going to put this in AIBU but it's about more than that.

I have just received another fancy dress related hen night invitation.

Apparently we are all to go out hilariously dressed as french maids hmm

I am trying to give a thought out response to the friend.

Do I

A) Just not go and leave it
B) Not go and explain why
C) Go and dress up
D) Go and not dress up and explain why

It's meant to be about her I know that and what she wants...but why is it seen as hilarious / sexy / empowering to go out dressed like this? I have three small DC's FFS. I don't want to wander round the town centre in suspenders and a short dress not least to consider the underlying connotations and inferences to it all.


Any ideas?

sprogger Thu 11-Aug-11 11:28:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

jennyvstheworld Thu 11-Aug-11 11:59:01

The perennial problem is that one person's bit of fun is another person's deeply-held belief. I think the only answer to this is to live your own life in accordance with how you think it should be lived, but allow others the freedom to make thier own mistakes (based on the fact that you're more likely to alienate them if you take issue). I think you should go, but find a modest way in which you can join in.

Clearly, the issue here is the inherent power / subservience aspect of the french maid outfit, but I don't think any feminist should be scared of being 'sexy'.

Perhaps a quiet word about how you are/were uncomfortable with it before or after the event...?

Thankfully, as sprogger says, this one issue diminishes over time. I know men have similar dilemmas i.e. when the best man / stag is keen to go lap-dancing...

peppapighastakenovermylife Thu 11-Aug-11 19:16:10

Ah no nothing wrong with sexy at all. However this group of friends (in twenties, no DC's) still seem to equate sexy with doing what a man wants if that makes sense.

So they are sexy if they have sex whenever he wants it / wears what he wants / does what he want etc etc

Whereas sexy to me is something very different.

She is a very good friend but is low in confidence I think and this makes her feel more confident as she then gets the attention etc.

I think going and wearing a toned down costume is better. Perhaps a decent dress with minor accessories ...

I want to go on the stag weekend of paintballing and down the pub grin

jennyvstheworld Thu 11-Aug-11 19:17:43


headfairy Thu 11-Aug-11 19:21:32

Just go wearing jeans and a tabard and say the only French maids you've ever seen wear this grin

I hate hate hate with a passion these kind of things. I have no problems with hen dos per se. Nothing wrong with a bit of female bonding. But why do we have to endure the pseudo porn dressing up? It's a bit sad that your friend feels this is the only way she can get the flattering attention she wants from other men.

If it were me I'd play the older woman card and just go in normal going out clothes.

NoCarbsBeforeMarbs Thu 11-Aug-11 19:30:45

I've recently been to one.
The photos were put on FB, and I look like an elderly relative who has accidently stumbled in!

I just couldn't bring myself to 'totally' get into it (this one was neon tutus and legwarmers...) soI'm there wearing a tutu over leggings and a cardigan on top wink

No answers of my own, but agree with what headfairy said.

ButWhyIsTheGinGone Thu 11-Aug-11 19:52:44

Oh I HATE these things. I was forced on one a few years ago. I may come across as jealous here, and I'm really not! But I just recall my "traditionally "hot" friends" ie skinny, lots of make-up, straightened hair absolutely LOVING the looks and comments from pissed, lecherous guys as they beamed and twirled round the bars, grabbing men's bums and kissing random chaps.... I know I looked like I was hating every minute...but I was! (Am aware that for a bigger girl like me this kind of costume is never going to be a happy choice....) It's really not "sexy," and worse, it's not "empowering" - it's titillation for beered-up, grabby men!

Surely a friend would want you there whether you're dressed up or not? And surely you can be yourself a hundred times more when you're not feeling like an idiot?

kickassangel Thu 11-Aug-11 20:04:39

i really hate the whole hen night & stag night thing altogether.

hen nights have come about in retaliation to stag nights. and stag nights were supposed to be a chance to have a last 'fling' before the shackles of marriage descended.

all deeply deeply distasteful to me.

having said that, i have been know to just go along & put up with it, just for the sake of it.

KRIKRI Thu 11-Aug-11 22:57:26

I like headfairy's idea! I've only been to one hen party, which was really just a slumber party at the bride's house. I brought an ornamental chicken as a gift! grin

That was about 5 years ago and it seems even since then, hen and stag parties have become more elaborate, more expensive and more raunchy. I personally hate everything about the concept. I don't like the gender divisions and pandering to the worst gender stereotypes. I don't like how expensive they are when few folks have the hundreds spare that it often costs. Then there's the whole tradition of it being the "last night of freedom" when most couples already live together before marriage.

Folks now no it's a waste of time inviting either DH or me to one of these events. Life's too short to piss away money having a miserable time because you feel obliged to.

peppapighastakenovermylife Fri 12-Aug-11 10:53:05

I do like headfairy's idea!

I have a feeling I am going to end up looking like the confused older relative who just stumbled in 29.

My DH just said I would look lovely and got the full force of my ranting.

FFS - I'm going to be a lactating mother of three dressed up in a daft costume.

Or worse - I bet I bump into someone I know. I'm a lecturer ... I have a PhD...managerial responsibilities. I am either going to bump into my line manager or worse students aren't I....

I don't mind the night out and celebration aspect but why do these things have to be gender segregated and odd? Why do you need a last night of freedom if you have chosen to be with someone confused

Doesn't help that she is properly loved up (well so she should be I suppose) and all romantic at the idea of marriage. I've been married 7 years and although DH and I get on fine I am deeply cynical about marriage as a concept and would never choose to get married again. I must remember not to bring that up grin

Malificence Fri 12-Aug-11 13:43:41

You don't have to do or wear anything that you don't want to, I detest this whole stag and hen culture, I'm 45 and have never been to a hen do, DH is the same age and has never been to a stag do - they are not compulsory.

My DD is a Uni student and they seem to get dressed up in fancy dress at the drop of a hat hmm she'll grow out of it I hope and I've never seen a picture of her dressed inappropriately thank goodness, although some of her friends look like lap dancers sad.

jennyvstheworld Fri 12-Aug-11 15:40:58

Do you not feel that you've let your friends down though Malificence? Surely they were disappointed that you didn't go?

Thistledew Fri 12-Aug-11 16:16:04

How about dressing up in a beret, stripy jumper, chic little scarf and pencil skirt/smart drainpipe trousers, and carry a little sign saying "Maids on strike".

Tres française.

jennyvstheworld Fri 12-Aug-11 16:44:51

Haha... bien sur!

peppapighastakenovermylife Fri 12-Aug-11 16:46:22

Thistledew - fantastic! grin

Lifeissweet Fri 12-Aug-11 16:53:30

I am not going to a hen-do this weekend because of the stupid dressing up. I made some excuse when I was first invited so that it wouldn't be awkward. I am 5 months pregnant, so running around dressed as a prostitute was never going to be a good idea anyway.

My DP is, however, going to the corresponding Stag and is off to a strip joint this evening. I am not happy and he knows it.

I did, however, go to a really lovely hen do a couple of weeks ago. We all went to a spa during the day and had a treatment and then went out for a meal in the evening. It was just a civilised get together, which was just what the bride wanted and we all really enjoyed it.

I did find myself thinking that, if I ever get married and want to have a hen thingy, I'll want to have men there too. After all, some of my best friends are men and I would feel strange excluding them just on the basis of gender. Similarly, DP's best friend is female and I think he'd want her at his 'stag'.

tiddleypompom Fri 12-Aug-11 17:07:43


I might be tempted not to go (I know, miserable old moo) not necessary as I would hate to dress up myself but would hate the crappy male leering and unwanted attention that it will surely attract. I live near a notorious club-scene street in B'ham and the hen & stag dos make me cringe.

I've been to some lovely hen dos over the past year having said that - mine included - including a themed day (but that was us dressed as the bride's hubby-to-be who is a farmer, hence lots of lumberjack shirts, jeans and flat caps).

ButWhyIsTheGinGone Fri 12-Aug-11 17:48:26

Speaking as someone who has worked in many bars/clubs/pub and is also a larger lady, I have to say I feel particularly bad for bigger women who have had to get dressed up for this kind of event. When a hen party dressed as maids/police women, etc parade into a busy bar, it's just a male perving free-for-all. I haven't experienced any horrible comments myself in this situation, but I've overheard many of the really hurtful comments men make about older/larger women in the group. "Look at THAT one - you just wouldn't, would you?!" Etc. The whole thing is so distasteful .

Lifeissweet - I won't be getting married any time in the near future, but that hen do sounds great; just what I would want!

KRIKRI Sat 13-Aug-11 11:50:06

I don't understand why you can't have a pre-wedding celebration that isn't gender segregated and doesn't involve activities that are degrading to the opposite gender. That's more the case with stag parties (e.g. strip clubs, prostitutes, etc.) but seems also to be expected at hen parties - sometimes male strippers but often anti-men jokes, trying to embarrass random men, the whole "we can be as bad as the men, we're ladettes" business.

My hen party involved cuddling a friend's chicken. DH's stag party involved a trip to the deer enclosure at the zoo! grin

garlicbutter Sat 13-Aug-11 21:12:41

Well, the dressing-up malarkey is supposed to make you get noticed as a group and be indulgently laughed at, innit? Afaik it's not intended to actually be seductive. At the last hen weekend I was on, the frantically seductive one was written off by the others as a bit of a prat. We left her to get on with shagging the locals, and continued on our very merry way.

Most hen groups (and stags, for that matter) won't mind if you go along in whatever you'd wear normally, with a visual nod to the theme. Carry a feather duster?

What does your friend the hen say?

KRIKRI Sat 13-Aug-11 21:55:43

Cluck Cluck? grin

garlicbutter Sat 13-Aug-11 22:17:21


PenguinArmy Sun 14-Aug-11 21:07:53

normally there a non 'sexy' way to dress though even in costume.

my 'hen' do was a 14 hour bar crawl in jeans and trainers

jenniec79 Sun 14-Aug-11 21:36:45

What about putting together a "Madame Overall" type costume? Like the jeans & tabard idea too.

Last one I went to was meant to be a Moulin Rouge theme hmm. Out of 12 of us, only 2 weren't in black trousers and nice tops. We were issued with gloves, feathers and boas hmm

The bride hated that we'd been put on to dress up and loved that we hadn't gone along with it! (3 groups of friends, only 1 involved in organisation/costumes - not closest, just the nearest to venues so knew the clubs etc we went to)

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