catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 12, Num 2 :: 2013.01.18 — 2013.01.31


Listening to fashion

I think fashion is probably the most visible way we try to fit in. I truly believe we adults are still trying to fit in as much as we were when we were teenagers. I may be a little more secure with myself now, but I still want to be liked by the people I come in contact with. Since people see me before they get to know me, I feel like I must be visually pleasing. Fashion designer Rachel Zoe says, “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.”

Though often true, the problem with this viewpoint is it encourages quick judgments of people based solely on their appearance. I know one person who still literally wears the same clothes she wore in the 80s. The first time I saw her, I immediately judged her in my head. Look at her clothes! She must be an idiot. Then I got to know her, and found that she was kind, thoughtful, generous and intelligent. Suddenly her clothes didn’t look so bad anymore because they weren’t what defined her. Her lovely personality outshined any fashion faux pas she may have been committing. I felt ashamed for being so quick to judge her. In my shallowness, I had equated clothing with person.

I kind of envy this woman. Somehow she has remained untouched and untainted by the fashion designers and stylists and clothing stores that the rest of us are enslaved by. I don’t know why she doesn’t succumb to the pressure of wearing more fashionable clothes. Maybe she doesn’t have the money to update her wardrobe. Maybe she just really likes and feels comfortable in her clothes. Maybe she doesn’t believe in following every little fad that comes along. Whatever the reason is, she is a style revolution of one.

It works the other way around, too. I’ll see a mom who is dressed in the latest style with her hair perfectly coiffed and flawless makeup and I’ll judge her, too. She’s vain or she’s flaunting her money or she’s shallow. I only do that so I can think I’m better, of course, because my clothes are from last season (a by-product of only shopping from clearance racks) and my hair is frizzy and unmanageable. The truth is, I envy this woman a little bit as well.

I am a product of a culture that tells us image is everything. Yet I’m a Christian who believes that the heart is what truly matters. Sometimes it feels like the two are playing tug-of-war. The problem is not wearing trendy clothes, but using clothes as a way to assign value to others and to ourselves. If clothing is a way that we “speak” to each other, then we also need to focus more on listening — not just viewing a person’s outfit, but taking the time to truly know her, to listen to her story and realize that, whatever the image, she is a fellow human just like the rest of us.

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