Go ahead, you were going to anyways. OK, well maybe not you and me personally, but I bet you can’t say with 100% honesty that you’ve never judged another person by what their wearing. It’s OK, I can’t either. I’d be lying if I said it’s something I’ve never done. The fact that we’ve all done it doesn’t make it right, but let’s face it, right or wrong, there’s always going to be someone judging us by our clothes. And why not? With shows like, “What Not to Wear” and “Fashion Police” not only is clothes shaming encouraged, there’s people making a career of it.
Clothes shaming is a life long battle and even kids and the elderly aren’t immune. The other day I took my kids to the zoo and I overheard a group of teenagers laughing at an older couples matching outfits and all of my kids, even my two year old have been the subject of a clothing joke.
Let’s talk about my family…
When it comes to my kids I have rules, however, I do believe in letting each of them express themselves through their clothing.
My oldest C, 14, is the basic t-shirt and jeans boy. I’d love to get him away from the dark clothes, but so long as his pants fit him and his t-shirts bear no inappropriate messages I allow him to continue in this simple style. As he gets older he’s beginning to care more about his appearance, sometimes trading his t-shirt in for a button down, but that tends to be the extent of his dressing up. This works for him and my wallet.
My youngest D, 2, is my budding fashion guru, whether he’s in skinny jeans and a sweater, a four piece suit or his Army Man Costume, he’s a kid after my own fashion heart, he likes what he likes and there’s no rhyme or reason for his choices from one day to the next. I know you’re probably thinking, “he two, doesn’t he just wear what you put on him? ” Yes and no. He is two, obviously he’s not walking into a clothing store and pulling whatever he wants off the shelves with no input from me, however, he’s always been very particular about what he likes, not just clothes. When we go shopping, I take him to the racks of whatever it is we need and he picks out a few things he likes. If I show him something he doesn’t like, he lets me know. No, I don’t let me two year old walk all over me, I wouldn’t let him go to a fancy dinner in his minion pajamas, but if he wants to wear a cowboy hat, bright red shorts and hunting boots to the park why stifle his creativity? If someone has enough of a problem with it to make fun of him, or worse yet question my parenting maybe the question they should be asking themselves is why their belittling a child instead of asking me why I let my “baby” dress himself.
My daughter J, 9, is a self proclaimed fashionista. And she manages to do it all within my “stricter than her friends parents” rules. More on this later. My daughter loves clothes, she loves trends but at the same time she enjoys putting her own twist on the current fashion. If it’s bright, sparkly or animal print, it’s her. Problem with not following the crowd to a t, and yes, this even matters in elementary school now is kids are mean. If your even a little bit different, chances are people are going to make fun of your clothes, and not just any people, your friends. My daughter in second grade the first time she came home crying because her friends laughed at her outfit. An outfit she had put together herself, leopard print skinny jeans, a hot pink shirt and a matching leopard print fedora complete with hot pink accent. She wanted to know if I liked her outfit. I did, but I told her the important thing wasn’t if I liked it, it was that she did. I told her she had two choices, she could pick out her clothes based on what her friends were wearing and be like everyone else or she could dress however she felt comfortable and be herself regardless of what people thought about her. What was important was that she was happy and that so long as she didn’t wear anything that disrespected her body it didn’t matter what other people thought. She’s in 4th grade now and there’s still days she comes home and tells me someone made fun of her. There’s also days she comes home and tells me how somebody dressed just like her. What there isn’t are days that she comes home crying because somebody said her clothes were weird.
As for me, I can’t sum up my style in one word because I don’t have a “style.” I like what I like because I feel good in it. Let me tell you about the last few days, Saturday night my husband and I had a date night, I wore a white button down, boot cut jeans and cowboy boots with a matching belt. Sunday when we went to church, I wore an oversized black shirt, skinny jeans and black heels. Today, I had on old faded blue jeans, a tank top and fake Ugh boots. One day I’m hipster, the next I’m Rockabilly. One day I’m in chucks the next I’m rocking leather boots. You might call me a poser and I’m ok with that because I’m comfortable with who I am and so as I follow a few rules I made for myself, I’m comfortable with whatever it is you think my clothes say about me.
About those rules I mentioned earlier when I was talking about my daughter, I admit I place more restrictions on my daughter than my sons when it comes to clothing. You may or may not agree with that, but I feel secure in that decision. It’s not fair to her, but we don’t live in a fair world. Here are my basic rules: no short shorts, skirts or dresses, no see – thru clothing, no stomach baring (this includes bikinis), no low – cut shirts and as is with my son, no clothing with inappropriate messages. And her least favorite rule, after this year, no leggings unless she wears something over them that covers her butt. Right now I’ve agreed to leggings, however I feel there’s a certain age when they become inappropriate when worn solely as pants. Before you hate on me, two things. One, if your daughter wears things that go against my rules, I don’t think you’re a bad parent and I’m not saying anything bad about your daughter, in fact, I happen to think girls can look cute in some of the things I choose to not let my daughter wear. Two, I hold myself to these same exact rules. As a Christian woman, I feel it is important to respect my body, for God as well as myself, my husband and my children. Please don’t take that as a judgemental Christian thing, it’s not meant to be. It’s my own personal belief and believe me, I’ve been on the other side, I’ve worn all those things I listed and I know what my clothing choices made people think of me. Worse yet, I know how those clothes made me feel.
I’m not trying to change the way you dress. Truth be told, whether your dress stops at your ankles or your butt, the person you just walked by judged you by your clothes. Do I think Christian women should consider their faith when making clothing choices? Absolutely. Do I think we should be educating our youth about how others will judge them based on their clothing? Yes. At the end of the day, what you wear as a Christian woman is between you and God but I think it’s important to remember your clothes say a lot about you and often, it’s the first thing people “hear.”