Created By: DragonQuestZSeptember 20, 2012 Last Edited By: lexiconDecember 11, 2012
Troped

Virgin in a White Dress

Pure white is worn by the morally pure.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
In western cultures, white is used to symbolize moral purity. This woman wears a dress that's as clean as she is. This is traditional for a bride on her wedding day, debutante at her coming out party, and Virgin Sacrifices. It might be relevant today because of the characters being religious or bringing back Old School Chivalry. If there are moral expectations you can expect some Slut Shaming by the Moral Guardians for those who don't remain "pure". An Ethical Slut doesn't take the idea to seriously though. In the old times, any unmarried women was expected to remain chaste so she could be identified by the color she was wearing. The Ingenue might wear white just for the virginal symbolism.

A Fairytale Wedding Dress will be pure white unless it has a little bit of pink or something as girly on it. The girlyness is probably done away with for the virgin's dress though because she's so mature all she needs is a dress that's simple, understated and still strikingly beautiful and white.

Technically she's a Woman In White, but she doesn't necessarily have the importance and style that that character has, as the color is expected of the bride, which takes the mystery out of her.

Examples can range from the saint like, to a sexually inexperienced woman who wanted to "lose it" or an experienced one who "renewed it" or any mention of sexuality white wearing white.

This is the basis of the Blood Splattered Wedding Dress.

Compare Gold And White Are Divine and True Blue Femininity.

Examples

Film

Literature
  • In Breaking Dawn Part 1 of the Twilight Saga, Bella ends up being a virgin on her wedding day only because Edward was too gentlemenly to have sex with her before they're married.
  • Snuff: Sybil mentions that a particularly ridiculous tradition (the maids must turn to the wall when being spoken to by a man) happened so the girls "wouldn't feel ashamed of wearing white on their wedding day).

Live Action TV
  • In Gilmore Girls Lane Kim planned on having sex but when she had the opportunity she surprised herself by saying, "Oh, well, I have to wait until I get married," because the morals her Seventh Day Adventist mother taught her had stuck. She was afraid that she might never get married and have sex but she did.
  • In The Golden Girls, Blance wore red at her wedding, because "me wearing white? Even I couldn't keep a straight face!".

Western Animation
  • Spoofed in The Critic, where Jay's sister, Margo, was forced to attend a debutante ball, and the dressmaker asked if she wanted to wear white, or an off-white he called "Hussy White". Margo said she was wearing plain white... except for the gloves.
  • In a Flash Forward episode of The Simpsons where we see Lisa's wedding, she and Marge briefly discuss this as they are a church-going family.
    Lisa: Mom, I feel kind of funny wearing white. I mean...Milhouse.
    Marge: [dismissive] Oh, Milhouse doesn't count.

Community Feedback Replies: 29
  • September 20, 2012
    Dacilriel
    I think the Pink Girl Blue Boy bit should stay in the White Means Innocence YKTTW entry, since the connotations of virginity and sexuality don't really apply to infants.

    The Scarlet Letter plays with this in-universe. After having a child out of wedlock Hester Prynne is forced to wear red (the titular letter A) to show that she is not pure. When she names the child Pearl (referencing whiteness) it can be seen as symbolic of her desire to regain the purity that was lost, depending on your interpretation.
  • September 20, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Virginity is not only when sexuality comes into play, but a lack of it as well. So it does apply for this. After all, a kid is a virgin (let's not go into exceptions).
  • September 21, 2012
    lexicon
    Why isn't Bella from Twilight on the list? You, Dragon Quest Z, said she counts.
  • September 21, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ I forgot to mention her.

    And on that note, if any bride wears white at her wedding, and a big deal is made about her virginity, it could count as well.
  • September 23, 2012
    Goldfritha
    Real Life
    • White was big in Elizabeth I's court in the whole Virgin Queen shtick. Pageants and the Ascession Day tourney often dressed in white for her honor.
  • September 23, 2012
    surgoshan
    You might want to add that wearing white at a wedding is Newer Than They Think. It became big in the Western world with the wedding of queen Victoria in the late nineteenth century. Before that, the gown was a nice dress (among the nicest the bride owned, even), but it would be one she could and would wear on many other occasions.
  • September 23, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ The link I posted actually states it's even newer than that. But I'll fix that anyway.
  • September 25, 2012
    dotchan
    • Gone With The Wind: Scarlett shocks all of polite society by wearing a scandalously red dress to her debutante ball instead of the standard virginal white.
    • Ditto the movie Jezebel.
  • September 25, 2012
    dotchan
    • Gone With The Wind: Scarlett shocks all of polite society by wearing a scandalously red dress to her debutante ball instead of the standard virginal white.
    • Ditto the movie Jezebel.
  • September 25, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Did you miss me already listing Jezebel?
  • September 25, 2012
    tadelstein
    In many other cultures, especially east Asia, white represents death. If a Caucasian males wants to date an Asia woman, he needs to stay away from "white". White on white isn't about virgins everywhere.
  • September 25, 2012
    DragonQuestZ
    "White on white isn't about virgins everywhere."

    That's why the first words of the OP are "In western cultures", not "In all cultures".

    It's right there at the beginning.
  • December 4, 2012
    lexicon
    It's been two months so this is Up For Grabs and I've grabbed it.
  • December 5, 2012
    lexicon
    Bump
  • December 5, 2012
    Sackett
    Do we want to mention that blue is associated with virginity in Hebrew settings. Hence why the Virgin Mary is usually depicted in blue.
  • December 5, 2012
    lexicon
    If there's a trope for that then I can link to it, but otherwise it doesn't sound relevant.
  • December 5, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    ^^ Catholics follow that also, though the cause-and-effect might be reversed there: blue is associated with the Virgin Mary, so it's also associated with virginity. Dunno though, not Catholic. Also that isn't really "western culture" (which is specified in the description), even if it is observed in the West. Agree that it's not relevant.
  • December 6, 2012
    lexicon
    Does anyone feel like giving this a hat?
  • December 7, 2012
    Chabal2
    • A rather depressing 19th-century story was about a young girl who raped and thereafter treated as a pariah by the right-thinking people of the village, causing some commotion when she actually wore the white dress at her wedding (to a man outside the village). She was Driven To Suicide after a particularly spiteful comment was made about how she was disqualified from wearing it.
    • Snuff: Sybil mentions that a particularly ridiculous tradition (the maids must turn to the wall when being spoken to by a man) happened so the girls "wouldn't feel ashamed of wearing white on their wedding day).
  • December 7, 2012
    ladygem
    ^^^ Yep, Cause and effect for blue=virginity is reversed for Catholics. She's also commonly depicted in white, or white and blue together, especially when it's a depiction of Lourdes or Fatima, making her an example of this trope.
  • December 7, 2012
    lexicon
    @ Chabal2 - Thanks! I'd like more details than "19th-century story" like names, places, and a more specific time, but if not oh well.

    @ ladygem - I'd add the Virgin Mary if there is a specific example of a painting or something where she's wearing white.
  • December 7, 2012
    ladygem
  • December 8, 2012
    lexicon
    Would anyone mind if I launch this now?
  • December 8, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    The "rather depressing" example is a nameless "19th-century story", and is effectively a Troper Tale. I removed it.

    The Virgin Mary entry also seems sort of shoe-horned. I think it should be more about the works (representations), than the Bible character.

    Looks fine otherwise, though I might wait for a fifth hat.
  • December 10, 2012
    ladygem
    looks good to me. On second thought the Virgin Mary thing might be due to Gold And White Are Divine as much as this trope, and you don't see it very often outside of Catholicism, so feel free not to keep it.
  • December 10, 2012
    lakingsif
    Add that its a form of Color Coded For Your Convenience white=purity
  • December 10, 2012
    Jaqen
    TV Legendofthe Seeker kahlen the virgin Priestess wears a long white dress.
  • December 10, 2012
    StarSword
    ^Let me clean that up for you.

    Literature:
    • In the Sword Of Truth series and its TV adaptation Legend Of The Seeker, Kahlan Amnell's formal attire is a long white dress. However this is due to her position as the Mother Confessor rather than being a virgin, and she, um, stops being the latter after she and Richard finally tie the knot at the start of book four.

    And the draft needs to be broken down by medium.
  • December 10, 2012
    lexicon
    I put the Virgin Mary one into the list because I think it's different from other Gold And White Are Divine since her title actually says virgin in it but she's not even in pure white so it is probably best to take it out. If those pictures aren't on Gold And White Are Divine they should be. Thank you for the clarification of Legend Of The Seeker. It doesn't sound relevant.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable