Friday, 10 June 2011
My big fat gypsy wedding¹ was a television documentary featuring a small
ethnic group of Irish travelers, the extravagance of the their parties and
strict rules of the their community. The show started as just a short two
episodes trial in 2008 and was a huge success. In February 2011 they aired
the second series of the show, The documentary series has been one of the
biggest hits for the channel, with an average of 8.7million viewers and was
the biggest television success since Big Brother. The newspapers then
followed with dozens of articles, with the titles of, ³my big fat gypsy
wedding almost got me killed², ³my big fat gypsy wedding makes Katie price
look classy², ³my big fat gypsy wedding: forget get Kate Middleton and
British descendents of Romany Gypsies went to great lengths to distance
themselves from their Irish counterparts.
In 2011 they estimated the number of gypsies living in Great Britain range
between 15,000 and 30,000.These travelers are descendants of Irish land
owners. When the 1840¹s famine began many travelers moved their families
over to England, Ireland and Scotland, but because racism towards the Irish
at that time was rife and it was extremely difficult for them to rent or buy
a property, get a job or be any part of the community, so they had to carry
on moving around and setting up their own communities, just with each other.
Gypsy traveler¹s have a much lower life expectancy that the general public.
Ten times more gypsies die in car crashes, roughly ten times more infants
die under the age of two. A third of travelers die before they¹re twenty
five. There is no obvious reason for this.
Traditionally Irish gypsies are expected to get married around the age of
16, the women spend the rest of their lives looking after their family and
house hold, the men spend the rest of their lives earning money for the
Gypsies are well know for being traders and dealing in cash, they often
breed dogs and horses for trading. They also collect scrap metal, they
looked at a community of travelers in Ireland and estimated that between
them they had over £1.5m of scrap metal.
A number of people are racist toward gypsies because they think that its in
their culture to scam and rob people and then to move on.
Historically, these are some of the scams they¹ve been known for;
Erasing ³curses² for thousands of pounds, Selling dogs and horses, knowing
that they have trained the animals to go back to the gypsies straight away,
insurance fraud and money laundering.
Turning to Romania a gypsy king made millions selling fake visas to fellow
Almost immediately after Romania joined the European union in 2010, many
gypsy criminal gangs came into the UK, the British police we¹re advised by
the Romanian government to investigate gypsy crime. Police found huge gangs
of money launderers, organized crime and scams, including one case of a gang
trafficking over 200 children into the UK to beg, steal and clean.
The legal age for marriage in Romania is 16, Romanian gypsies often become
engaged before the age of 10 and are married around the age of 14.
"They could be playing in a sandbox one day, and snatched up and taken to be
married the next they may be ten years old and have a baby by the time they
are 11,"- says a Romanian gypsy mother.
In 2003 the world was shocked when a news report about a Romanian gypsy king
and politician, sold his daughter for 500 gold coins when she was 7, then
Ceremony took place when she was 12.
My intention for this article was to interview gypsies and use them for a
photo shoot, but we couldn¹t find a campsite. So I spent a painful three
weeks harassing gypsies on Facebook for an interview. I have asked at least
over 400 gypsies and inboxed them three messages each, a couple briefly
replied and I got close to interviewing one when she backed down.
I don¹t know whether some of them are illiterate or just extremely private.
I added two of the boys that we¹re on the television show then noticed that
their walls we¹re bombarded with disgusting abuse related to the show, I
assume that they are loyal to each other and try to protect their culture
from the outside world as much as possible.
Whist I was trying to contact several gypsies I looked at all of their
photos and how they dressed, I was completely shocked by their fashion
sense, it¹s a cross between 90¹s girl band, trailer trash and florescent
Barbie dollesque outfits. Regardless of what kind of figure they have.
They sell them selves as much as they can via facebook, constantly up dating
many photos of them selves looking their best, posing and revealing as much
as they can. And describing them selves as ³sexy, juicy, princesses and
properties of their daddies."
'My Big fat Gypsy Wedding' has obviously sensationalised this ethic group, I
fear that we don't really know anything about them and following this show
it is hard from them to change the very shallow perception that the viewing
public will have.
I expect that they will stick together and may well regret letting the
cameras in in the first place.