Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In the World in Blue Jeans


Today, I went shopping for a pair of jeans.

This may surprise some of my readers since I have been very open about the fact that I typically only wear skirts. There are a lot of us out there--the skirt-wearing ladies--particularly in religious circles. But, unlike some, I never had any hard-and-fast theological reason for my choice to shun pants. I find skirts attractive, comfortable, and more forgiving in transition from pregnancy. It is difficult to find jeans that fit me, being shorter-than-the-average-American-girl. A lot of jeans aren't particularly modest, which narrowed the already slim pickings. Add to that the fashion trends of the "skinny" or "matchstick" cut and the distressed look, and it's little wonder why I hopped on the skirted bandwagon.

I had been tentatively working my very few pairs of pants back into my wardrobe as I regained my shape after James' birth, but it was in the aftermath of my father's death that I finally switched over to the degree that a shopping trip became necessary.

It wasn't just the brief trip to a colder climate that did me in. I wanted to be inconspicuous. So many things already set me apart: my faith, my accent (or lack thereof), and now the stigma of being the child of a suicide victim (as if the only child stigma wasn't enough). My family already holds hands to pray in restaurants, and I cross myself when an ambulance passes. I was already wearing black. I didn't want people to take notice of my long skirts, as well.

So, I packed jeans. One pair. And I wore sweatpants when I was lounging around my mother's house. And, it felt familiar and comfortable and good and thoroughly inconspicuous. And, it was then that I realized: without the skirts to draw attention, other things became more noticeable:

the crucifix around my neck
the modest neckline of my shirt
even grace in a restaurant

stood out a little more

because everything else about me was so normal. I was in the world, but not of the world. In blue jeans.

11 comments:

  1. You make a good point. I still wear jeans on occasion, the only caveat being that I make sure my top covers my rear end in the back and my private parts in the front. Then I feel truly modest. That's just me. But the change is nice sometimes, even if only for change's sake.

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  2. Interesting post. I've worn jeans less and less over the last year....and just this evening was thinking about getting rid of my last couple pair. I don't have serious problems with jeans, but at this point I prefer to make my own clothing, made to fit me. For awhile I wondered if no jeans would make me weird with the youth group kids, thereby creating some sort of barrier, but I've actually had a couple of the girls tell me that they like the way I dress, and the fact that I don't look like everyone else.

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  3. This is a really sweet sentiment...so many Christian people get legalistic about the clothes issue.

    Hoping you're coping ok after your loss...

    Prayers and best wishes,

    Mary

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  4. Hi Bethany,
    I want to comment on your statement regarding the stigma of certain family situations. Please Bethany do not carry this around with you. Absolutely no one with an ounce of compassion in their heart would hold any of those situations against you. Your recent family tragedy must be such a difficulty, please do not add that additional burden to yourself. Please forgive me for speaking so frankly, I really am normally not one to give advice, but because of your recent pain I just wanted to reach out to you and encourage you to be gentle with yourself. From your writings I can tell you are a compassionate and caring soul, and I wish you and your family peace and healing. This is nothing short of a tragedy, and your family should feel no stigma.

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  5. Anne - Thank you for your sweet advice. I probably should say that I don't really believe there is a stigma (although, it took me two decades to get over the "only child" one that was foisted on me during childhood). I was just being tongue-in-cheek. Thank you, all the same.

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  6. Hi Bethany, Oh, I'm sorry I misunderstood! I'm so glad that isn't an additional burden for you. Wishing you and your family peace and healing,
    Anne

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  7. Hi Bethany - terribly sorry to hear your sad news, what a dreadful shock.

    I’m so used to wearing skirts that I very rarely feel out of place, but I do very occasionally wear jeans when I’d really stand out and I did use them as a ‘target’ to prove to myself I’d more or less got my figure back after no 2 (a disadvantage of skirts is that, because they’re comfortable, it can be so easy to put on weight without noticing !).

    I don’t think it’s wrong to wear jeans etc as long as they are modest, your husband is okay with it and the overall look is as feminine as possible. But most jeans are just too low and / or tight and I agree with Brook I just don’t think you should show your shape ‘down there’ so I don’t feel properly decent in jeans unless I wear a dress or tunic top over the top, which covers to at least mid-thigh (one of the rare occasions when I guess I’m in fashion !) . I’m also conscious of not wanting to sit like a man which I think is really unattractive. Sarah

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  8. Lovely post. One thing that occurs to me is that creating too much of a difference between yourself and everyone else could result in others being less open to your message.

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  9. i know the feeling, i am struggling to find my place right now in the midst of so much... and less that you are finding your self in... my recommendation... look in the mirror, do you smile? would the hubby smile? can ya chase the kids? then you are good to go... i know it's about more than clothes, more than 'jeans' but it's about how to feel in ones own skin, and what surrounds it... good luck girlie

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