Style as desired: Message from a bottle

“What on earth is she WEARING?!”

That’s all I heard from behind me last Sunday and that’s all I could think about for the rest of the class.

I was in Relief Society with my sister-in-law at her home ward, surrounded by ladies I didn’t know. And that was the first thing I heard from the woman behind me as soon as the sister missionaries stood up in front of the class to give a little lesson.

I wish I could tell you I was shocked. But I wasn’t. It happens SO often, that I don’t even flinch now. It’s expected. And I’m not beating up on my LDS church because that’s not the only place where judgment with others’ appearances resides. I’m beating up on every place in the entire world that holds more than two humans together at one time. *Hence, everywhere*

But when it happens among Christians, that really rubs me the wrong way. As Christians, shouldn’t we be better? Shouldn’t we think more highly of each other and grant each other the option to express his or her individuality in whatever colors or accessories or hairstyles he or she wants? It disturbs me–enough, in fact,that I’m writing this in a hurried frenzy. Don’t worry, I’ll do a spell-check before I post this.

I’m not going to go into what the missionary was wearing because…well, it doesn’t matter. It never matters.

What matters is that it happened. A girl with a big smile and a Book of Mormon in her hands was suddenly judged for what she was wearing quicker than she could get out two words. And it happens all the time. I cringe to think of all the times I may have done the same kind of thing, judging someone by their shoes or hairstyle or pierced lip as they sit across from me in church. It’s simply something to be ashamed of.

This nagging issue was still on my mind as I was reading the back of a hair-conditioning spray the day after. It relayed the instructions carefully on the back of the bottle, then simply stated: “Style as desired”. See? Even the simplest of things–a bottle of hair product– has it right. You follow the instructions–modesty, cleanliness, respectfulness toward your body. Then you style as desired.

If that means flower patches on your jeans, great. If that means not being afraid to wear short-sleeved shirts that show a tattoo that you got long ago (the one people try to convince you to regret and keep hidden)–good. If that means sporting bright green shoes because you happen to love the color green–GO FOR IT. Because no one can be you. You are your own work of art.

I can’t forget the day that I wore this dress to an event.orangedress

Five minutes into being there I was asked which Halloween store I bought this at. Great, I thought. Now I’ll feel like a pumpkin all night.

And then there’s my sister. The spunky, larger-than-life, unique girl who just happens to like black. A lot of black, actually. And people will dare to ask her why she’s goth if she’s Mormon. This oftentimes comes from not only the school halls, but her own church classrooms.

ashley2

And it’s unacceptable. 

We are called to be kinder, gentler, more understanding. We’re called to embrace diversity and celebrate our own.

julenemom

(Picture by Julene Jorgensen photography–http://www.designstonotice.com)

No matter what age we are, we have beauty that is our own. Beauty that is crafted by the hands of our own creative spark. And shouldn’t that be celebrated?

So, my dear lady, sitting behind me in Relief Society, I will tell you what the answers might be to your whispered question of “WHAT on earth is she wearing”.

She is wearing what makes her shine.

ivy

She wears her hair short and curly because it’s too hard to keep up if it’s long, and by golly–she looks good with it.

  kylynn

She is wearing her hair in curls reminiscent to the 1940’s because she has the face of a movie star from those classic black and white movies and she digs the old-fashioned look.

laughing

(Picture by Joey Ferguson photography, fergmedia.com)

She has rain-soaked hair and play clothes because she loves to play. And that’s what you caught her doing.

marijke2

(Picture by Julene Jorgensen photography, www.designstonotice.com)

She’s wearing bright colors  and ripped jeans because she’s young–and she has the personality of the sun.

joey

He’s wearing a bow tie because that’s his favorite way of dressing up. And he simply owns a drawer full of them.

julene

She just simply loves yellow and looks GREAT in that color.

We’re all different. And it doesn’t matter.

What really matters is that we love that we are.

So, to the sister behind me, and to all of us really: What is she wearing?

Something different than you. And that’s what makes life so interesting. And so gosh-darn beautiful.

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10 thoughts on “Style as desired: Message from a bottle

  1. This is very true! I often was judged because I am a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. I dress up when the occasion calls for it like church. With my 9 year old daughter I let her be her. She hates jeans! She wears skirts and leggings almost every day and I love that about her. She loves to wear things with frills and ruffles even though the kids at school say its for babies, but the place we are both most often judged is at our LDS church. Where every adult and child has an opinion about everyone else. It is really sad because that is the place we should be the most safe and accepted in the world.

  2. What a great story! One of the most important things we must remember in life is not to judge others. There are reasons why we are all different and we must respect that.

  3. My mother stopped going to church for many years. I had established my own household by the time she went back and even then I am not sure she ever received a calling again. I don’t think anyone else in the family knew why she stopped going. But I do because I heard those snotty judgmental women talking about my mother’s life as if she couldn’t hear them. These superior women who didn’t have to work to put food on the table and provide clothing and shelter for her children. We were poor and my mother had to work. She chose to work the night shift so her children would always have a parent at home for them and because she earned more money on the night shift. My mother barely had enough time to get home from work, pick up her kids, change into church clothes and arrive at sacrament meeting on time. This is back when Primary was midweek after school. Priesthood and Relief Society were also mid week. Only Sacrament meeting was on Sunday. This was also a time when it was common for people to smoke inside buildings and in the workplace. So these women were judging my mother because she smelled like smoke. My mother had never smoked. Not ever. I’m sure my mother was exhausted because when we weren’t in school during the day she was up awake and taking care of her children. By the time Sunday rolled she had worked a 12 hour shift Friday night, been taking care of us all day Saturday , worked a 12 hour shift and then went to church. These women were mean but in my adult experience with mormon women are the norm not the exception.

  4. Great post! I think that for some reason, LDS women are the most judgmental. I see it all the time. But, like you said, who cares what we are wearing. Why not concentrate more on the people we are, and the things that come out of our mouths.

  5. We’ve had the opportunity to live all over the world and the saddest thing is that the closer to “zion” we got the more judgmental people seemed to become…I know it’s stereotyping women in Utah and I know the majority are not that way but maybe the minority are just so loud they drowned out the rest of you!?!:) When you live in small ward outside the country it doesn’t matter what you wear or what size you are or who your parents are…it matters that you are a member or Gods church! New converts wear pants, or sleeveless tops, they have hair in dreadlocks and look “goth” not to draw attention or make a statement but that’s who they were and what they have and the Gospel found them! And they have soo much to offer…I remember when I found out we were expecting our 6th child the meanest, most hurtful, rude comments came from members of the church! Sad….we all judge and to think we don’t I feel is lying to ourselves…but hopefully we can work on looking and concentrating on the good and judge that part not the part we feel is odd or uncomfortable for us!?:)

    • I have had the same experience. My children were teenagers and they had just come from the Philadelphia area. Needless to say, they didn’t have the Mormon girl look, this was in 1990. The only two daughters I have were ostracized and soon stopped going to church. I tried and am still trying to make them see that they need to let it be a problem for the ones who judge, and stop being a victim of those who have been unkind. They have married outside the church and my grandchildren are not members either. I truly think we as a people need to be taught as a whole to be more Christ like towards each and every one.

  6. You are of course correct, as Christians we should be less eager to judge. However… just to speak the other viewpoint…
    I hate ties. I hate white button-up shirts. I can’t stand to wear them. I can’t stand suits. I think they look ridiculous. But every Sunday, I button up my white shirt, tie my conservative tie, and slip into my suit jacket. Why, because I have been asked to. And because, when I am at church I want to be as invisible as possible. Not because I don’t want to personally be seen. Not because I am trying to hide from anybody or anything. I just don’t want to be a potential distraction for someone who is trying to draw closer to the Savior. I would feel awful if some poor soul had to struggle to stay focused during the sacrament because I was sporting a neon tie, or bright purple shirt, or a spiked Mohawk or jeans and a t-shirt or… Yeah you can argue that they should learn to not judge, and ignore my weirdness. But shouldn’t I, as one who made a covenant to lift others, do whatever I can to make it easier for them if I can?

  7. Pingback: Style as desired: Message from a bottle | herdanceheaven

  8. Your Blog is a blessing. I don’t feel so marginalized anymore. I have not spoken up much because I have been told it’s my problem and I need to be more prayerful and righteous so I don’t have “issues”. I feel like I’m not standing out in the middle of the dodge ball court waiting to be knocked down for not fitting the Molly Mormon mold ❤

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