When it comes to fashion, the only thing most Catholic writers have to say is “modesty, modesty, modesty.” I’m sick to death of the topic, and if you’re reading my blog, I’m sure you are too. What about beauty? That’s one of the transcendental aspects of being, right up there with goodness and truth, no? Nothing gets my dander up like religious folk obsessing about clothes while patently not caring about them. My Christian college had a dress code, which I think was a good thing on the whole, but my post-college wardrobe doesn’t always conform to it, and I haven’t been kidnapped by white slavers (so far). I have appeared in public (though not at church or work) in strapless sundresses, shorts, and even a bright coral dress that hit me mid-thigh – but I doubt anyone sane thought I looked slutty. The strapless sundress had a floor-grazing skirt; the short coral dress had cap sleeves and a demure neckline. I won’t wear a bikini, but I wouldn’t automatically unfriend a girl who did.
The point is, I enjoy looking pretty and I have a small, hard-earned store of knowledge on how to do so. Aeon, a true NCB, enjoys my appearance, and I don’t plan on trashing it any time soon. Let’s face it: we’re Catholic; we’ll probably (God willing) have a baby within the next three years. But I don’t want to end up in a freaking denim jumper! Gah! When I look at photos of my grandmother holding her children, she’s always wearing some killer 50s outfit. I want to be like her! Don’t even talk to me about June Cleaver; I’ve never seen her. Is she a hipster who makes bread-knives with owls on the handles?
This little inspirational gem has apparently been making the rounds of the internet. The most offensive bit is the husband ignoring his wife at a dinner party, but this is the crux of the matter:
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, ‘I brought you this.’
It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: ‘To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.’
This imaginary lady doesn’t need a condescending gift from her fabulous friend – she needs five freaking minutes to take a shower, and she needs to look at some style blogs and buy a few machine-washable knit dresses in bright colors. And some knee-high boots.
Why should Invisible Mom care? Well, if she were a cheerful hippie mamma that would be one thing, but she’s not. She’s conscious of being “out of style” and grungy, and it makes her unhappy. Also, if she has a daughter, Invisible Mom will be her most powerful advertisement for the state of motherhood. Does she see a thriving, happy woman? Why should she want to trade in her pretty, single state to become a meek, shabby, peanut butter-scented drudge? Why would you wait on your daughter hand and foot, training her to enthrone herself at the center of the universe, when all you want is for her to grow up, marry a nice man, and forget about having a moment of peace or appreciation ever again? How are you preparing her to be happy?
Rant over. When I have kids I will:
1. Keep this bookmarked.
2. Remember that as long as it’s machine-washable, it’s all good.