“Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling…”
2 Corinthians 5:2
I hate shopping. Row after row of hangers that you feel obliged to dig through, the lost hours you spend trying on clothes that pinch and sag and wash you out, only to walk away with either empty hands, or an empty pocketbook. (Is there every any in-between?)
Shopping, I hate. but oh, finding. Finding is dear.
When something fits well, it uplifts the soul along with the, er, butt. A good silhouette makes you say, “Yes. This is the way I was always meant to look.” All other clothing designers have wronged you, but finally someone gets it. You really are beautiful, and some jeans–these $250 jeans from Nordstrom– just prove it.
I remember trying on the white tiered sundress in the above photo a long time ago (the summer of 2009, to be exact). I really wanted that dress, but it didn’t want me as its owner. Before trying it on, I snapped a photo and uploaded it to Instagram (as white girls will do), because I saw a simple beauty in the way it looked on a hanger. That’s before it distorted the shape of my body, making me look like a jacked up vanilla cupcake with choco-brown-hair-icing. Clothes take on a new look when they go over our heads. And we take on a new look with them. We have so many clothing options to choose from, and we use them to speak to the public before we ever say a word.
Look, I know that clothes are just coverings for our perishable bodies. But there’s always something brewing beneath the layers of clothing, as proved by my undergraduate Fashion History course. Boy, that was a class I never intended to take, but it was a requirement for all theatre majors. After just a week of fashion history lectures, I quickly realized that people reveal the motives behind their bigger choices most clearly in the smaller, everyday choices. The Greeks valued the look of the human body, so they celebrated it with flowy, comfortable fabrics. Europeans in the Middle Ages were obsessed with holiness and religion, so they made hats that looked like steeples and plucked away their hairlines to appear more pure, pale, and chaste. (Although, I’m not sure how chastity and hair have anything to do with one another.) We don’t yet know what will be said about our generation but I have an idea it will center on thesocial media presence, political correctness, and the way our friends and even outsiders perceive us.
I feel the ache of strangers on my Instagram feed most mornings, as columns of carefully filtered selfies parade our best hair days and swiftly untagged Facebook photos hide our worst. I wonder how anyone can look so perfect, and how a mom who gave birth only weeks after me can already be bikini-ready. And mysteriously, no one ever looks bad anymore.
…you noticed that too?
I learned in church that all we are is dust, our bodies just tents in which to dwell for a little while. We all know better than to obsess about a flesh-tent. We can agree that human appearances are deceiving, fleeting, and shallow. But you’d also be right to say that there’s more to fashion and beauty than most of us are willing to admit.
These are multi billion dollar industries, so they matter. We have got to do more about refuting the lie that we’re never good enough than just saying, “Oh well, appearances don’t matter.”
Because there’s something in me that longs for completion any way I can get it. My soul craves appreciation hundreds of compliments or onscreen “likes” can ever bring me. I used to think, when I was single, that attracting guys with my looks was my only aim. But now that I’m married, I know the truth: I wasn’t just agonizing over my appearance for a man.
No one else cares if my face is contoured and my lashes are long and full. I get a haircut; even my exceptionally observant husband cannot tell the difference. But if you think I’m going to stop getting my hair cut by my favorite stylist every two months, you’re crazy. It’s not the rest of the world I find impossible to present myself to….
I’ve never, ever been good enough for me.
At least not for any length of time.
That’s what this blog is really about.
There’s something about fixing, completing oneself on the outside first, then looking inward last. And that something is somehow the deep connection of my temporal body and my eternal spirit. They’re at war with one another, and no matter which part of me wins, unless I feel that sense of completeness, I still lose.
What am I missing here? Why do I look at my full closet and still feel the need to buy skinny jeans with a frayed hem? Are the fashion police going to get a warrant for my arrest if I don’t have all of major items from my Pinterest wishlist by mid-fall?
I need to find out why I can never have enough shoes.
I want to know why I put nothing but makeup on my Christmas list every year.
I really need to understand why, when I look in the mirror, those last five pounds of baby weight are the only thing I see.
I’ve blogged about it in dozens of other ways. It’s shallow. And the world is full of bigger problems. So, ladies and whatever gentleman wandered onto this page by accident…
It’s time to get my face, dress size, and hair off my brain long enough to do something real with my time, money, and effort. *
*But I want to look cute while doing it.