From my 2015 Journal. I have been rebelling against fashion since I was in junior high. When girls at my boarding school were begging to wear shorter skirts, I insisted on lowering my hems. One day in Home Economics class we discussed what colors complemented each other. Apparently wearing orange and pink together was a no-no (We hadn’t hit the psychedelic 70s yet). And so, on a dare from my roommate, I agreed to put together a skirt/blouse combo that clashed and to wear it to breakfast that morning.
I was proud of the fact that I had enough guts to go against established “rules of fashion” and be my own person. I felt confident enough in who I was to pull off the dare. But, to my chagrin, one of the Aunties pulled me aside to inform me that what I was wearing was a less than desirable combination of colors.
I felt indignant. How could she think so little of me? Even when I informed her that I wasn’t ignorant, that it was done on a dare, the damage in my soul was done. I felt embarrassed where before I felt confident.
I take this emotion to Jesus, and He smiles.
“Why are You smiling?” I ask.
“I love that you have self-confidence to be who you are. Never mind the Auntie. She didn’t know. It was her motherly-instruction side coming out. Wear whatever you choose—with confidence.”
But then I remember what it was like when my own girls entered junior high. Suddenly I was being compared to “cool” mothers who dressed fashionably while my girls were feeling mortified that their mom was stuck in the Dark Ages. “She grew up in Africa,” seemed to excuse away my ignorance, though truthfully I had fully embraced my mother’s mantra “comfort before fashion” and “inner beauty is more valuable than outward clothing.”
Today, after getting a better handle on my temperament and how I’m wired, I realize my fashion choices are really less about my upbringing, and more about being comfortable with who I am. I still admit to ignorance about what’s in or out. My daughter Sharon says it’s because I don’t really care, and perhaps she’s right. But since I don’t want to appear like I just stepped off the boat, I usually take her or a trusted friend along when I go clothes shopping (though I maintain the right of refusal if their tastes are too far removed from mine).
Like most Missionary Kids felt when they returned to their passport country, I preferred not to look like a total misfit. I’ll never forget the lime-green, cast-off dress donated to me by some well-meaning soul during one furlough. How was I to know that my peers would whisper about it behind my back?
Does what I wear offend you? Do you think less of me for it? What I choose to wear reflects who I am—and if I like who I am, that’s what’s important. Stand tall, stand “proud.” Be confident in who God made you to be. (P.s. in Michigan it’s acceptable to wear socks with sandals. Just sayin’.)