Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ray of Sunshine: Yellow skirt, polka dot top ... and a toddler

There are the days I wake up knowing exactly what I want to wear, and I put it together and it looks just the way I want, and I head out the door feeling great. Then there are the other 364 days of the year.


But sometimes it is fun to pull things together, piecemeal, until you achieve some sort of harmony. I started with the yellow skirt, then went tearing through my tops and sweaters to find something that would take it in a different direction. And I had a helper/distraction, as you can see here.


I adore this skirt, which was probably once part of a suit but is smashing on its own, too. And I just pulled this top out of my closet from a bag of clothes I packed away when I was pregnant (ahem, more than three years ago) and was pleased to find that it fits (note: I am NOT my pre-pregnancy weight/shape, but this top is a stretchy baby-doll, so yeah), so I was excited to take it for a spin.


I hadn't realized how rarely I wear low-cut tops (speaking relatively here; I realize this is not particularly low-cut by most standards) until I wore this one, though. I felt super exposed and actually just cold with this much of my chest uncovered. And I kept clutching nervously at the neckline whenever I bent over. I don't have any sort of philosophical or moral commitment to dressing modestly, but I have found that, in practice, the clothes I feel most comfortable in tend to fit that (very broad) definition.


My feelings about revealing clothing on women are really complex. I was listening to this song the other day and, while I realize that the lyrics are probably intended to be empowering or standing up for women ("With those skin tight clothes, you're playin' yourself"), I also don't think anyone should assume anything about a woman's motivations, desires or self-respect by looking at the clothes she wears. And I am struggling, deeply, with how to communicate this muddled message to my daughter.


I don't want to tell her that wearing tight or revealing clothes is "trashy" or "slutty" or even the more vague but still somewhat judgmental "inappropriate." I do want to find a way to have an ongoing conversation about how we telegraph meaning through the clothes we wear, and that it is worth being aware of that meaning so that you can make informed decisions about it. And if she does decide — as she almost certainly will, at some point — to wear something that I think is hideous, or cringe-worthy, or inappropriate, I wonder if I will have the courage to keep my mouth shut.


Cardigan: Thrifted
Top: Thrifted
Skirt: Vintage, thrifted
Shoes: Vintage, thrifted
Total cost to me: About $10

2 comments :

  1. Such good thoughts about how clothing can give off a certain meaning even if the person wearing them is not that meaning at all. I do try to dress modestly (no cleavage, nothing super super short or sheer, that's pretty much it) but lately I read all of these things about women who were so pressed to be modest that they quit wearing yoga pants or jeans or leggings because it could cause a guy to look at them with lust and they didn't want to cause someone to sin, and I was just like... really? It is NOT the business of ourselves to keep other people from doing wrong -- it is THEIR business to keep themselves reined in.

    I get really fired up about modestly arguments when women say "oh, but I won't wear this because it could cause some guy to look at me with lust and that means I made him sin and then that means I sinned" ugh. In my faith there are some lines to be drawn for skirt lengths and necklines, and they're different for everyone, but never is it about making sure you're not making someone ELSE sin -- that's not ever something a person should be burdened to do. It's not what the Bible ever says women are in charge of. Not once when there are verses on modesty do they talk about being modest to keep men from lusting after you. EVERY verse is all about heart motives. Are you wearing that to get attention and attract a guy for sexual reasons, or because you want to show off/look better than everyone else/generally you're just wearing it for attention? Rethink. But if your heart's in the right place and you're dressing because you feel pretty in it (or because it's practical, in the case of jeans and yoga pants, ha!) then really... that's what matters most.

    And there are things I've worn that my husband commented on -- necklines, mostly -- so I changed. Because... not that it's a dominance thing, but I married him and he is mine and I am his, and he wants to be the sole viewer of my boobs, so if he's uncomfortable with a neckline that I didn't realize was too low, then I'm okay with that.

    That was a long comment. Hopefully it all made sense! I feel like anytime I talk about modesty, it doesn't come out exactly as I meant it to, haha!

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    Replies
    1. I have SO MANY THOUGHTS about this issue and it feels so complicated raising a daughter, too. I will say that something you posted a while back definitely re-informed my perspective on modesty — I think I did assume that (most?) people who dressed modestly were doing so with the idea that "this will cause someone to look at me with lust," and that really rubbed me the wrong way — I think for a lot of the reasons you described.

      But also, I'm not Christian, so I am coming to this with a decidedly outsider's perspective.
      It is so much easier for me to understand and appreciate the mindset that you described, even if it's one I don't personally identify with. So, it made sense to me! But I agree that it's hard sometimes to put all this into words.

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