Legendary book illustrator and author, Tasha Tudor, once said,"Why do women want to dress like men when they’re fortunate enough to be women? Why lose femininity, which is one of our greatest charms? We get more accomplished by being charming than we would be flaunting around in pants and smoking. I’m very fond of men. I think they are wonderful creatures. I love them dearly. But I don’t want to look like one. When women gave up their long skirts, they made a grave error…"
I'm not sure how old Tasha was when she made this comment. She lived into her 90s, passing away just a few years ago, and would have remembered the introduction of women in pants in the popular media of the day, through film stars such as Marlene Dietrich, back in the 1930s, when smoking was considered" glamourous". But Tasha didn't march to the beat of the world's drum, not only did she make a name for herself illustrating children's books, she became famous for her garden, her tea parties and for choosing to homeschool her children and live out her real life in 1830's style-LITERALLY- No running water or anything AND of course she wore long skirts. She was talented, hardworking and very feminine...
Last night , our Zara, made an interesting comment as she took off her pretty floral jeans that she'd worn that day, gardening with her Daddy in the garden-"You can't do ANYTHING in jeans! I don't like wearing them." She finds them hard to do up- and they are not tight- and uncomfortable. Today, as I hung our washing on the line, I watched her watering the tomatoes in an old but pretty floral dress. She was a vision of loveliness, especially as she swirled and twirled as our girly-girl is apt to do.
I thought as I watched her- my Grandmothers gardened in dresses, and fed the chooks, chopped wood for the stove, and a myriad of other things. In fact much more physical labour than the average woman has to do today, but they proudly wore their dresses, and would be company -ready just by taking off their aprons and giving their hair a quick brush. My maternal Grandmother was very beautiful, motherly, and a picture of femininity. She was, and still is, my "style icon" to use a modern word or two. I inherited her photo collection, when she passed on, and growing up loved the pictures of her in her long, elegant, but modest dresses.
Do I wear pants? Yes I do, but for a while now, personally haven't felt really comfortable with it-especially after spending some time studying the history of women's fashion from the 19th into the 20th century, and matching the changes along with the rise of feminism. I caught sight of myself in the mirror one day,after rushing around doing some cleaning. My long hair(my glory), I had hastily tied up in a knot at the back of head "to get it out of the way", I wore an old T-shirt and old black pants with sneakers. I realised silhouette-wise I looked no different from the plastic figure in pants used for the sign on the mens' room at the mall- and here I was the Lady of the house. I looked androgenous! What's androgenous? Have you ever seen a person from a distance and worried because you couldn't tell if they were male or female? So many of the fashions in todays world are this way!
Since then,I've looked at history many times and have found much food for thought. I don't cut my hair anymore ( I do trim split-ends), or wear make-up apart from lip-gloss/balm; as I've seen that prior to the 1920s, that cutting hair and painting faces was not done by "decent" people. The "Roaring Twenties" was one of the most decadent and licentious decades of the 20th century-prior to the flower-power sixties, and lack of decency suddenly became popular, through the influence of Hollywood and women's magazines. The SHAPE of womens' clothing changed. It expressed their desire to be like men.This was before the "HAYES CODE" came into being in LA-LA Land, and restored decency and home-spun goodness to films. Some of my favourite films are from the 30s and 40s.
Another recent discovery I'm pondering on is in the Bible in 1 Tim 2:9, where it speaks of women wearing modest apparel. In the Greek language from which the New testament is translated, the word apparel is "Katastole" meaning to let down, or long loose and flowing. While I don't wear tight jeans, my dress pants may pass for LONG, but I can't pass them off as flowing no matter how much I pretend! This is something else I'm pondering upon...
So what's the bottm-line (pardon-the Pun) for me on pants now... While I can't afford to throw out half my wardrobe, I'm endeavouring to wear skirts and dresses more, because I feel way more feminine AND modest without the gap between my legs. I'll be keeping an eye out at the thrift stores for more too, as I wear my pants out. Maybe I can find some cute smock tops to wear with my pants that cover the posterior. Our daughters wear dresses most of the time unless it's really cold, and if I desire to set a standard of feminity in the home, then it has to start with me, not just talking about it. I also, now we have sons, wish to show them what feminity is, and how it looks different from masculinity. Because we ARE different- loved by God equally, and yet with different roles ordained by Him.He's given me an all-important task- I need to dress the part to honour Him, as a reflection of what he has done on the inside.
Our children grow up with traditonal family images in their vintage storybooks - homes with Mum in a dress smiling as she does the dishes- not Barbie in her pant-suit with a briefcase on the run. I need to come into line with what my heart is saying and go for it-so I don't see any more scary images in the mirror!!
PS. I just want to stress that these are my personal thoughts and ponderings and convictions- If you love Jesus, have short hair and wear makeup and love wearing your pants- you are still my sisters in Christ and we are still friends!!!! This is my personal walk and journey.
Labels: feminism, food for thought, Modesty, motherhood