In high school my wardrobe was abysmal, embarrassing. There was a lack of funds and I was also blessed with a very practical mother who fought hard to teach me modesty and the difference between “needs” and “wants” – fashion was a “want”. I was clothed in good quality hand-me-downs, and the fact that many of them (I kid you not) were first worn by an elderly friend of my grandmother, mattered not as my “needs” were met.
Even if endless funds had been at my disposal I probably would have collected many the fashion faux pas as I just had no clue as to what was socially acceptable. I grew up Germany where movies, toys, and fashion were all a good season or two behind the United States, and we moved to Los Angeles when I was fifteen years old.
Back then the style was baggie jeans with a tight midriff shirt and white Keds. I owned a pair of Liz Clairborne jeans with pleats and a pair of baggie purple sweatpants, so that took care of the bottoms. With my tiny amount of spending money I bought a little shirt that met the approval of my mother and possibly that of the fashion police. Somehow I ended up with Keds that were… um… Reggae colored. So with my baggie purple sweatpants and tight(ish) T-shirt and Reggae Keds I had beat the system!
I was confident in who I was and what I wore. Sure, a few of the older students teased me, but I was doing the best I could and I felt like a million bucks!
Over the following months I was educated in American culture and awakened to the fact that I just didn’t fit. Thanks to the sovereignty of God and that aforementioned mother, I was a strong Believer, which put me and my fellow Christian students in awkward situations. We were often rejected and disrespected no matter what awesome outfits we might have been wearing.
Also with the education in fashion came the awareness that there were different body types and mine has always been curvy; one never meant for bikinis or to flirt beneath midriffs. That feeling of comfort and success morphed into a sense of inadequacy, one which took years to squelch.
Thankfully, I have come into a better understanding of basic fashion and what types of clothes make me feel beautiful. But best of all, I have a better understanding of who I am and who I am to God. Now the clothes I buy are just “icing on the cake” as they do not change me, only enhance how I look, possibly how I feel.
Those purple pants with the colorful Keds are laughable… and yet… there is a sense of beauty in the innocent heart that God was busy protecting.