When you think of a bridal show, you may have visions of creative photographers, wedding gown experts, travel gurus, brilliant bakers, and entertainment professionals settled at their respective booths, vying for the attention of every bride, bridesmaid, and mother of the bride in a 60-mile radius. And quite likely, you’ll expect this event to culminate with a parade of elegant men, women, and children in a bridal fashion show designed to elicit the oohs and ahhs of those aforementioned brides and their entourages.
What you don’t expect, I’d gather, is for a barrage of demeaning, disgusting, and downright offensive commentary from the fashion show emcee.
Last weekend, I attended my second bridal show in preparation for my upcoming nuptials. This time, I was accompanied by one of my amazing bridesmaids at The Windy City Wedding Show at the Embassy Suites in Naperville, where we made appointments for dress fittings, gathered ideas, and spoke with other potential vendors. It all went as expected. Until the fashion show portion of the afternoon.
As the lights dimmed, we were greeted by a man who claims on his entertainment company’s website to “know exactly how to make your special event, extraordinary.”
If this fashion show were an audition for my business, Keith Christopher (KC) KoKoruz of Keith Christopher Entertainment would have lost my bid the moment he opened his mouth. As the audience, which consisted of a female majority, awaited the show, Mr. KoKoruz asked for a round of applause.
When the audience didn’t offer enough enthusiasm to suit his liking, he made the following commentary:
“We’ve got some insecure and unattractive models back there. They’re going to need some more applause before they come out here. [If you don’t clap louder,] we’re going to have eating disorders up the wazoo.”
Not only were disparaging remarks made about the models in the show, but also this emcee tastelessly made light of eating disorders to a room full of women, many of whom had probably started some sort of diet regimen to fit society’s standards of a beautiful bride.
When did it become okay to crack jokes about eating disorders?
I’ll give you a hint: It didn’t.
I left that show fuming. Pissed at the man who spoke the words. Angry at the wedding show company that supports this sort of commentary. Irritated with the women who clapped after his speech. Mad at the world. Disappointed in myself.
Not one woman in the room, myself included, stood up and said anything to this man. I was ready to start asking him questions immediately after the show, but I could sense my companion was uncomfortable with this idea, and opted, instead, to email* Keith KoKoruza, who also owns Windy City Wedding Show and several other businesses tailored to Chicago-area brides.
In both a blog post comment and a Facebook comment, Mr. KoKoruza apologized for his insensitive and uncouth remarks, but his double apology came wrapped with excuses and exceptions. Anything but genuine remorse.
He was very confident that his humor was used successfully throughout the show though I found him crass and chauvinistic. But, to each their own. Humor is absolutely a personal thing. There’s a line, though, between crass and class. I assumed when I registered for a professional bridal show, though, I’d be receiving the class end of the stick.
KoKoruza also insists that his jokes about the models are funny because they’re his friends. “They are also some of the most secure and confident people I have ever met which is what made the joke so ironic,” he rebutted.
Unfortunately, KC doesn’t seem to understand that people who appear confident are not always as secure with themselves as they seem. Many people have close friends and family members struggling in secret with their eating disorders. On the outside, they look happy, fearless, and well-adjusted. On the inside, they are fighting a demon every day of their lives.
Eating disorders are lifelong mental illnesses. You don’t recover from an eating disorder. You don’t wake up one day and decide, I’m not going to starve myself anymore or I’m done puking up every meal I eat and then it’s over. You wake up every day and decide, I’m going to focus on taking care of my body today. I will fight my disease, and today, I will win this battle. Every day is a battle. Every meal is a battle. Some battles are easier to win than others. And some are harder.
But what those struggling with eating disorders don’t need is some man, who may or may not struggle with his own eating disorder (I won’t be so brazen as to assume he doesn’t), making jokes about it as if it doesn’t matter. As if it’s not real. As if every model behind those curtains wasn’t insecure. He doesn’t know.
But what he should know is the complete disregard for propriety he displayed to the audience at this wedding show in order to gain a few cheap laughs. It’s a shame there is no one to hold this emcee accountable because what KC KoKoruz said was unacceptable.
What would you have said or done if you had been at the show? How would you have reacted?
*While Mr. KoKoruza did not respond to my initial email sent the day of the bridal show (apparently, it was lost in the system), he did see and respond to my Facebook message. His response arrived in the form of a comment here and on Facebook, which you can view below.