That's right – DIVORCE party. A party to celebrate the completion of a divorce. Sound strange? That's what I used to think…until I became a party planner and saw the positive side of this fast-growing trend.
Divorce parties have become a booming addition to the event planning industry in recent years. Of course, some tend to skew to the negative (think – cakes with knives, ex-husband photo dart boards, ex-wife piñatas…). But let me be perfectly clear about the philosophy I share with my clients when planning their divorce party: It's not about fanning the flames of hate. It's not about making a mockery of what was once a central part of your life, or about trashing the ex. Yes, getting divorced is very painful even in the best of circumstances, but it's much more productive to resist those negative impulses and focus instead on the positive aspects of your new life status.
It's important to remember, this whole thing started with love and marriage. I encourage my clients to choose the high road, to celebrate new beginnings with friends, family and fun. Women (or men) who are strong enough to get themselves out of a bad situation, for the sake of themselves and/or for their children, deserve to move on in an affirmative, liberating way. It's okay – even healthy – to feel relief and to look forward to moving on to the next chapter of your life. You just have to give yourself permission!
Says divorce attorney Helen M. Dukhan, co-founder and partner of HD Family Law Group, “My motto is: 'Nothing says a good day like a divorce'...not because I'm being funny, not because the process isn't difficult, long and sometimes super expensive, but because of how my clients feel when it's finalized and they are FREE! They are empowered. That is why I love my job, because I help my clients prepare for the divorce, guide them through it, and then I celebrate with them once it is over and done with."
So…are you ready to open your mind to the idea of a divorce party? Here are 10 great reasons to feel good about your – or your friend's – choice to have one:
Show the world you're fine, you're strong, and you're moving forward.
Embrace new beginnings
This is the first day of the rest of your life. A party is a great way to kick off your new independence and leave the past behind.
Ease a difficult time
After going through a rough time, you deserve to surround yourself with supportive and encouraging people, and let them shower you with love. What could be better than having all your BFFs and loved ones together in the same place – celebrating YOU?
Take a risk
It might feel uncomfortable or unusual at first, but opening yourself up to a new experience will make you feel empowered.
Do something fun
Consider picking a fun theme and bringing it to life with special décor, a fancy cake, and even your own signature cocktail. Whatever works for you. Use your imagination!
Take some amazing photos
According to professional photographer, Celestina Ando, “photos are a great way to feel empowered." You'll have a whole new collection of great pics to look at and remind yourself how much you are loved. (Not to mention sharing them on social media – with you looking fabulous and having the time of your life!)
Open yourself up to meeting new people
Ask your guests to each bring a friend you can meet and expand your horizons. If you're ready, announce to your family and friends that you're open to dating again. You'd be surprised how quickly your network can grow.
Okay, this sounds shallow, but hey, now that your belongings have been split up, you may need stuff.
Express your gratitude
For everyone who has been there for you through thick and thin – lending an ear, offering advice, providing support, being a friend – throw a party to thank them for standing by your side. Everybody wins!
Give yourself a little TLC
Book a pre-party spa or beauty appointment, get glammed up, and wear your favorite outfit or splurge on a new one. Show off the new you, single and ready to take on the world!
Parties are meant to acknowledge life events – whatever we deem those to be. Divorce parties are becoming more and more mainstreamed as a way to acknowledge that phase of life and move on to the next one. Instead of staying lost in the sorrow or bitterness of the past, choose optimism and positivity for the future. Live it up!
Victoria's Secret is best known for what it has to offer women. However, a few days ago as I was strolling around the flagship store on Bond Street, I discovered that the store also has a lot to offer men as well. Just not exactly what you'd think.
My experience began like many other shopping excursions, casually browsing for a few practical items. The store was bustling with women who were relaxed but focused on their own purchases. The women in the store all displayed a quiet confidence in knowing what to do and how to do it. My browsing journey took me into another room where I noticed a man behaving quite awkwardly while being guided around by one of the many well-trained twenty-something shop assistants. My first thought was: "Good for him coming in here alone! I imagine it isn't the most comfortable experience for a man." It was clear he felt out of place. His discomfort was obvious by the way he was shuffling around and avoiding eye contact with any women nearby.
This otherwise unremarkable experience sent a spark through my mind. This man was professional and smartly dressed; perhaps he could have worked for one of the many private equity, hedge fund or banking firms in the nearby area. I imagined that he was confident in his own world of work, but in this female haven he was not. He was the only man in the room, and it showed.
This world - that of Victoria's Secret - was not created to make someone like him feel comfortable. In this environment—a store catering to women, filled by women and selling feminine merchandise—the familiar patriarchal dynamics of the world had completely shifted.
This was a world that can transform an otherwise confident professional into an introverted, self-conscious and indecisive man who needed the help of a twenty-something female to make one simple purchase.
I have seen this story play out with the gender roles reversed many times throughout my career in the corporate world. Today, the culture of many companies are built and sustained by men, for men. Traditional male characteristics are still encouraged, rewarded and expected from female professionals, especially if they expect to reach the executive suite. Being the only woman in the room is still an everyday reality for so many women in business; most men do not understand how corrosive this situation can be to a person's confidence.
I have often heard men say that they believe gender inequality is not an issue in their firm. They hire women and now even have some women on their teams. Well, on those terms this man should not have experienced any issue either. There is no sign at the door of Victoria's Secret barring men from entry. Men are allowed to freely enter and buy whatever they choose. No woman in there would tell them to leave or suggest that to get to the front of the queue they must behave in a certain way. So, what was the problem? Why did this man appear so uncomfortable? Why did he suddenly lack the confidence he seemed to have in the outside world?
It's all in the numbers. If that store catered towards the needs of men, or if there were simply more men in the store (either equivalent to or greater than the number of women), then it is likely that man would have felt a greater sense of belonging.
Just because women are allowed into the workplace now, does not mean their experiences are equivalent to those of their male peers. Women, as the minority, simply do not have the same sense of freedom to be their true authentic selves in many corporate environments, even today.
Just like that Victoria's Secret shop assistant guiding the lone man through an ostensibly unwelcoming environment, so, too, do women benefit from the guidance of sponsors, helping them navigate the male dominated corporate world.
Before a man talks about gender parity, perhaps he first needs to take a trip to a lingerie store and experience what it is like to be the only one in the room. Maybe if more men had experiences like this, they may begin to understand what it is to feel so out of place. Maybe they would join us in creating greater gender equality in the workplace.