JEDDAH: In the Middle East, once a woman turns 25, she is usually pressured to “tie the knot” by family members eagerly trying to match her with a future husband. Esraa Al-Hagan, however, had another take on the matter.
Al-Hagan, 27, who comes from an Egyptian family, defies the norms and chooses to remain independent, happy and single.
In a show of independence and rebellion, Al-Hagan decided to walk through the streets wearing a white puffy dress — but with no husband by her side. The “wedding” was billed as a celebration of her productive single life, alongside a crowd of close friends who cheered the idea.
“I’m rewarding myself for my hard work,” Al-Hagan said in an interview with Al-Nahar TV. “I live by the motto: ‘Reward yourself after a long productive day’. I haven’t rewarded myself in a long time, so I decided to do so in a unique way.”
Al-Hagan argues that as long as the idea is not religiously forbidden and harms no one, she thinks that what she did was not wrong and should not be as controversial some media outlets made out.
“A dress is not necessarily a representation of happiness,” Al-Hagan said. “Countless women wore dresses and then ended up being divorced.”
She explained that this is a feeling she wanted to experience while sending a message to people that “happiness has no limits.”
Since no wedding is complete without a bridal photoshoot, Al-Hagan’s photographer friend offered to help make the “big day” a success. “When she told me about the idea, I was surprised at first but then I said ‘if you’re crazy, I’m crazier so let’s do it’ and we did the photoshoot,” said photographer Mohammed Essam.
The two friends recalled the funny moments they encountered during the ceremony: “People were wondering where is the groom at? We were like ‘hold on he’s in the toilet’,” the photographer said, laughing.
Al-Hagan stressed that she “couldn’t care less what people think,” and said that all she cares about is herself and her happiness.
Essam argued in her defense, saying: “What’s the big deal about it? The only difference is that she wore a white dress, whereas no one would bat an eye if she wore a red dress and took a photoshoot. This is the only difference: color.”
Meanwhile, Al-Hagan’s family opposed the idea altogether. “I did what I did despite my family’s objection as I’m an independent woman and I have always made my own decisions,” she said.
According to a study quoted by the Egypt Independent, the average age of marriage in Egypt is 20 for women and 26 for men.