Weddiquette Series: The Ring of Visibility

In our post break-up drinks this week, Best Friend: Partner In Crime said that it was actually an advice column that spurred the death knell of her relationship. In it, a single woman asked how to not feel like she is being “left behind” by all her married friends who are “moving forward.” The author responded by questioning why being single meant “behind” at all.

“That was a wake-up call for me,” Partner In Crime told me. “I realized I can’t keep acting like I needed him in order to ‘move forward.’ I am moving forward and it has nothing to do with him.”

I nodded so enthusiastically I think my brain took a little beating.

So today, let’s talk about that.

In fantasy stories, there is often a piece of jewelry that makes you invisible. But for women, an engagement ring is a different kind of magic – a dark magic. It is The Ring of Visibility.


Engagement rings aren’t dark magic, of course. But the culture and myth that is built up around them most certainly is.

Life Without Dark Magic

I like to think of myself as a fairly successful woman. At the very least, I feel that I have lived the shit out of my life thus far. If there was something I wanted to try – a country, a food, a hobby, a person, a style, a job…I’ve done my best to achieve it. I am brimming with stories and adventures, ideas and feelings.

But I’ve always felt like people weren’t particularly interested in any of that. Like somehow, just as the single woman in that article described, I was falling behind.

I remember coming back from teaching English in Japan and wondering why no one seemed to care. I had accomplished something herculean. At 24, I had lived thousands of miles away, on my own, in a foreign country. Taught children. Traveled. Survived a kidney stone. Fallen in love. And yet when I got back, no one was particularly interested and I got more questions about my boyfriend than I did about own experiences.

A few years later, after 8 months of sleeping, eating and breathing yoga, I become a certified yoga teacher. Four people came to my graduation class (two were my parents and one was Partner In Crime).

Most recently, I got into the top grad school program in my chosen degree. While working full time and paying for it on my own, I completed the program in two years and came out with the highest GPA in my class. When I was done, I hosted my own graduation party and….that was all there was to that.

Then, I get engaged.

And suddenly, I had slipped on the Ring of Visibility.


Life With Dark Magic

Facebook blows up. Phone calls and texts flow in. People want to throw me parties. All those friends and family members who couldn’t make it to any of my graduation parties or celebrations are now moving heaven and earth to show up for my showers. Even when I say I don’t want presents, they are forced on me. “Congratulations!” is the new hello. I’m literally getting stopped in the street by people who want to comment on my ring and my engagement. 

All of the sudden, everyone finally has questions for me.

How did he propose? Were you surprised? When is the wedding? What are your colors? Where will the reception be? Have you picked out a dress? How many people are coming?  Where are you going on your honeymoon? 

The first few months after we got engaged, I would come home and sit on the couch with Mr. Juris Doctor and sob. Just ugly cry sob.

“Why is it that YOU put a ring on my finger and this is the only thing people care about? Why doesn’t anyone care about all the things I did on my own?”

Because. Even in 2017, we as a society are still telling women that marriage is the ultimate goal. That without it, we are behind. We are less than. We. Are. Invisible.


No more.

Single Ladies: you are not waiting for anything – you are perfect

You, single ladies out there.

You are not behind.

You are not less.

You are not invisible.

You are not waiting.

You are seen and heard and loved just as your are. Your life is full and wonderful and I celebrate you and all your accomplishments. 

Married ladies: You are not complete – you were already perfect

You, married ladies out there.

You are no more visible than you were before.

You are no more complete than you were before.

You are no more special than you were before.

You are the same amazing, wonderful, vivacious woman you were before and no ring, no ceremony, no marriage can make you more fabulous. You are seen and heard for you and not for your marriage and I celebrate you!


Everyone: Rise up and defeat the Ring of Visibility!

You may not think you contribute to the power of the Ring of Visibility, but ask yourself  -Do you celebrate as fervently, do you ask as many questions, do you say “CONGRATULATIONS” as loudly, do you feel inspired to shower her with gifts when a woman you know:

  • Gets a new job?
  • Gets that promotion she deserves?
  • Gets into school?
  • Graduates school?
  • Buys her first place?
  • Stops a pick pocketer?
  • Stands up to sexual harassment?
  • Breaks up with that person that was no good for her?
  • Earns a certification?
  • Starts her own business?


I didn’t. It never occurred to me, because that’s not what I was trained to do. But now I know. Now I will fight the dark magic with every ounce of my being.

Will you join me? Here are some simple ways to join the battle:

  • Make a mental list of five things you think are as awesome as getting engaged (hint: there’s a good list above). Celebrate accordingly. Let’s get into the habit of being happy for our friends as they move forward! Yeah, throw her a party. Buy her a gift. Send her a card. SHE DESERVES IT.
  • When you meet an engaged woman, compare your reaction to your above list of awesome things. Be that excited and no more or less. For every wedding/engagement question you ask, you have to ask one question about HER (that is not wedding related!).
  • If you’re engaged, don’t indulge the Ring of Visibility behavior! “Yes, I’m very excited about getting married! Did I mention, I just got back from a work conference in New York?”

Getting engaged is wonderful and special and I don’t want to take away from that. But until we can treat it as another wonderful life event and not THE life event for WOMEN, there is work to be done.

Let’s not stop until we can say:

giphy (1).gif


Now go forth and be seen, you adult!




14 thoughts on “Weddiquette Series: The Ring of Visibility

  1. I love this post…I actually love being single and get panic attacks when I think about marriage or any other form of entrapment, I mean relationship. I only recently agreed to having an exclusive relationship… and even that is fkn scary…!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 👏 👏 👏 This is also a problem for parents with fresh baked babies. I loved what you said about not engaging (pun intendedd) the ring of invisibility behavior. Yes, I’m very excited about getting married! Did I mention, I just got back from a work conference in New York?”
    You gotta keep your own identity. Are we twitter friends?? Ima share this!


    1. TOTALLY. I don’t have any babies so I didn’t want to be dishing out advice about that, but I think you’re so right. As women we have to keep our identity and not let culture define us by as property and baby making machines. Haha.
      You’re too sweet – thank you! I’m not on Twitter. I just never have enough to say. Lollllz. But share away!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this post!

    To be honest, I do think friends have been pretty supportive about the other achievements in my life but you are right, I think the most ‘liked’ post on fb are all the wedding and baby related ones. I wonder if the facebook algorithm shows wedding (and baby announcement) related posts more than other things!?

    Also, you used to live in Japan!? Me too! I was a JET in Nara…it was the best decision I have ever made. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Josy! I have awesome friends and family who have always supported me. But there’s definitely a different vibe around single life achievements vs. married life achievements. I think so much of it is training.
      AWESOME! I did Amity which was one of those private after school programs. So cool that you got to live in Nara. I love it there. I want to hear more. Next blog post should be about Japan, please!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have a few about Japan, but they are mostly about festivals. I will write more, but I keep getting distracted with life here in Vancouver!!

        Oooh I didn’t know about Amity! It’s awesome that there are so many options to go and explore Japan!


  4. Very well thought out and so well said! This brought to mind a similar realization I had about complimenting young girls. “What a pretty girl/dress etc!” I’d say. I absolutely cringe now whenever I hear myself saying that. I don’t tell boys, “My what a handsome boy you are!” Or if I do it’s rare. Reducing girls to their looks, and describing ourselves by our relationship to others is part of the problem. I heard today how Agatha Christie never considered writing “Author” as her profession. Instead she always wrote, “Married woman.” WHAT! We say I’m so and so’s mom/daughter/wife often when we establish our credentials. My ex-husband is a chef, and I almost always had told people more about his job than my own in every interaction. As Tina Fey would say, Blerg. As my British friends would say, bollocks. Your point about the visibility of women and the seemingly all-important threshold of marriage is so important. We can make a difference if we take the actions you suggest and continue to cultivate our own awareness on how these types of thought patterns underlay our everyday actions.
    My, I had a lot to say on this I guess!


    1. Wow, thank you. I have goosebumps!
      You know, when I was writing this, I was thinking a lot about the little boy/girl compliment thing as well so thank you for bringing it up! It’s something I learned about just a few years ago (how embarrassing!) and now I try so hard not to immediately compliment a girl on her looks or clothes. I figured my post was long enough and I didn’t need to get into all that too. Ha!
      But for me, learning about that was a real eye opener about how we are just trained to think a certain way. Even as a feminist, it never occurred to me not to compliment girls’ looks and clothes because…that’s just how it was done! After going through the engagement process, I suddenly became aware of yet another way we subjugate women to these subservient roles through our words. Blerg and bollocks indeed! So much growth left for us – but I believe it can be done!

      Liked by 1 person

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