This thought came to me yesterday as I was once again deriding myself for not looking better. For not looking all made up and attractive according to the world’s standards. And I wondered, is that really who I am? Is that my standard? Or is this non-caring, easy-going dress mode really me? And is it really okay, not to look affluent and attractive all the time; not to slay every day?
You see, I went to Church yesterday, and I was insulted by one of the security guards who prevented me from going to collect my son, even though I showed him the access card to his class, because “only parents can go there!” At first, I was wondering what he was talking about, until I realised that he thought I was a househelp! I wasn’t dressed like the other parents or “respectable” adults, who were clearly distinguished in their smart and rich attires. I was dumbfounded and rebuked him, before passing by.
So, why the confusion? I was wearing a simple gown I wear often these days. It was nothing special. Nothing like what most people wear to Church. Most people wear their Sunday best, with lots of make-up and expensive accessories. I understand that it is because they believe they are going to God’s House to meet God, whereas I believe that I am always in the presence of God, and my body is His House.
Anyway, I had on that simple dress, some dull old shoes, a pair of ear-rings and my wedding band, as my only jewelry and an old designer bag (the one I carry every day, because changing purses is tedious). Of course, I wasn’t wearing any make-up (another tedious endeavour). And my overdue hair was brushed and packed. I looked like a child really. I actually don’t blame him for being confused, but still, he shouldn’t have assumed that I wasn’t a parent because I didn’t look the part. He could have at least asked me!
I have had different looks in my time. In my teenage years, you would never see me out of my house without make-up. When I was delivered of the low self-esteem that made me feel I was ugly without make-up, I overcame that crutch and never looked back. Now, I only wear make-up for events where I feel it calls for it, like weddings and parties.
There was a time I was obsessed with how I looked, and especially with dressing sexy. I also did my best not to be caught wearing the same outfit twice to the same place or, at least, not in the same year! I have matured past that stage too, by choice and by force. I am a lady of limited means these days and, since motherhood, I haven’t been able to wear my pre-maternal clothes or shoes! I can barely stand heels since pregnancy, so I go for comfort and flat shoes and slippers.
There was also a time when I lived in poverty and simplicity, and I was free from any demand or expectation to dress affluent and attractive. Modesty and simplicity was the order of the day. And I really did enjoy this liberty not to be concerned about my appearance. I was glowing just by knowing God and doing His will…
So, when I thought about how it seems this modest, dull simplicity has become my normal, which I seem to be struggling to get out of, I had to consider – maybe this is me?! Maybe I’m happy being like this, and I’m only stressing because I am too concerned with what others think or feel about it… Maybe there is a place of peace I need to come to, like the realisation that I am beautiful without make-up, that it is also okay and beautiful for me to dress simply, and just be concerned with adorning myself with charity and good works (1 Tim 2:9-10)!
I think the world has really infiltrated our minds to think that there’s only one way to be beautiful, or that happiness has a ‘look’, just like the security guard thought parents in that rich Church have a certain look. We are constantly bombarded by perfect looking personalities on Instagram, who are doing and having it all that the pressure to meet up and keep up can be harrowing and depressing. They show us what we are not, and what we are apparently supposed to be in order to be recognised and praised for our worth, which they admit is actually beyond appearances.
But here’s the issue: can I be happy with not looking like them? With being judged or misunderstood because of my appearance? I believe I can. Can my image be worked on and improved upon? I certainly think so too. But I am no longer going to create an image based on what is popular and considered beautiful. I am going to create one that I am most happy and comfortable with…so that the glory of God would shine through.
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