Gazing at Celebrity’s Marriage: The Eager to Protect our Wealthy Men

09 Jun

Last year, the marriage of Priscilla Chan and the founder of facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, brought up lots discussions. Some people argue that Priscilla is not pretty enough to marry Mark Zuckerberg. This claim indicates discourses that men are consumers and women are commodities in the marriage market and that “men act, women appear.”[1] Many people have unconsciously internalized these ideas and thus fail to understand why as one of the richest men Mark did not marry someone who is astonishingly pretty. Priscilla received the gazes as many other celebrities’ wives did and was unfortunately criticized as appearing old, fat and having bad fashion taste. Nowadays, if one searches Priscilla Chan under Google image, the second popular collection blatantly featured “Priscilla Chan Fat”.


Priscilla is criticized as not hot by some people

Following scrutinizing at Prscilla’s appearance, more doubts arose in terms of Priscilla’s marriage purpose and potential benefits.  Similar topic has been studied scholarly. Schaeffer-Grabiel used her tour in Colombia as ethnographic to study how women use beauty, or their body capital as a form of mobility.[2] In her model, men are seen as the consumer who trade commodities in the market while women are seen as commodities being trade. She brought up this idea of International Matchmaking Industry to explain women’s marriage migration. Priscilla is definitely perceived as receiving huge social migration through the marriage.

In response to the concern, supporters of Prascilla find evidence to show that she is indifferent with the power of her husband. They emphasize that Priscilla started dating Mark way before he became a billionaire and that Priscilla herself is smart and well educated, which to some extent compensated the lack of a beautiful appearance. Another story shown in the New York Times more directly justified Priscilla’s indifferent to Mark’s financial power: Once Mark Zuckerberg’a sister Randy shopped with Priscilla during which Priscilla stopped to admire a pair of shoes that cost $600. When Randy told Priscilla that they had enough money to buy the shoes, Prisicilla simply said: “It’s not my money”.[3]

Yet most people disregard the weight of what “true love” plays in the relationship as the financial consequence of their divorce surpass the role “sincerity” plays. As a result, concerns about if Mark can protect his property if they get divorced become the center of the conversation. Once the couple finished the ceremony, discussions about whether the couple signed a prenup pervaded on the Internet. Celebrity divorce attorney Raoul Felder claimed: ““You can bet your last dollar — actually you can bet his last dollar — that he has a prenup……If he doesn’t, he ought to go to a psychiatrist and not a lawyer.”[4]


Priscilla is mocked as a money grabber

Among celebrities, there were lots of stories about invalid or improper preups that led the wife gain a lot of fortune at divorce. The negative response to similar issues led to legislative reform in many countries. For example, China adopted its new Marriage Law in which couples’ pre-marriage property remains permanent private. Under the new law, women are disempowered in their marriage, as their husbands are now able to kick them out of the house no matter what. Both the new legislation and the response to celebrity’s marriage arise the question why we are so eager to protect our wealthy men.

[1] Minh-Ha Pham. “If the clothes Fit: A Feminist Takes on Fashion”, Ms. Magazine, fall 2011

[2] Felicity Schaeffer-Grabiel, “Calenas and Pliable Bodies: Mobility through Beauty and Marriage”(UC Santa Cruz), 1

[3]  Laura M. Holson & Nick Bilton. “facebook’s royal wedding”, New York Times, May 25, 2012,,

[4] Natasha Burton. “ MaMark Zuckerberg Prenup: Billionaire Facebook Founder Weds Priscilla Chan, Was There a Prenup?”, Huffington Post, May 21, 2012,

1 Comment

Posted by on June 9, 2013 in Uncategorized


One response to “Gazing at Celebrity’s Marriage: The Eager to Protect our Wealthy Men

  1. thescotchtapemedic

    June 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    This really illustrates that ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ position that the patriarchy places women (and particularly women of color) in.

    Think of ever popular ‘old husband is murdered so now his nubile wife is loaded!’ trope on procedural cop shows. What the media is telling us is that women use their bodies as a commodity, and the most beautiful bodies are only affordable for the wealthiest and most powerful men. These women are often framed as greedy, immoral, deceitful, and heartless. And, above all, they’re dangerous. Dangerous because a woman’s power is in her beauty, and her beauty can unlock all a man’s power.

    Contrast this with the real world marriage of Priscilla Chan to Mark Zuckerberg. Priscilla is not considered beautiful by the media, quite the opposite. She isn’t using her body to attain wealth – or if she is, Zuckerberg is being duped by her. So we see this framing of Zuckerberg as the helpless victim, and Chan as the conniving shrew.

    And if we add to this her position as a woman of color, and it becomes even more complex. I wonder what the media has to say about her in regards to her race. Probably nothing good, but I’d still be curious to see.


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