Monday, July 1, 2013

Fashion or Foreplay?

I know. You're not used to provocative lead ins to posts in these here parts. If I made you blush with that cheeky title, I do apologize. It gets to the heart of this piece, though.

In the beginning, God created us to be naked without shame. Then that pesky serpent came along and well, the rest is history. If only Adam hadn't made Eve make dinner that night, right? 

While it is true that we should, as women, not be ashamed of our bodies, whatever their size, shape and firmness (or lack thereof), we also have to realize that we live in a fallen world. What we wear, how much we show off, what we do - all of it can be a temptation whether we intend it or not. Men, for better or worse, are visual beings. They, like us, are subject to their biology and psychology, though like us, they should not mastered by them. 

Knowing this, why would we in earnest want to create a battle in the hearts of men? Let's get one thing straight - I'm not advocating for a return to high neck, long skirt "don't let your ankles show or you're a hussy" fashion or pressure. If you enjoy that fashion statement, go for it!

I am, however, suggesting that we as women should really think about what we are wearing, why we are wearing it, and what impact it might have on those around us. Before things get out of hand with allegations of supporting a rape culture, understand that no matter what we wear, don't wear, do, don't do...violence is never excusable. No one "asks for it." Men, like anyone else, cannot act on every impulse, and sexual violence is rarely about sex.

That disclaimer aside, if we expect men to respect us, shouldn't the reverse be true? Shouldn't we as women respect the men in our lives and in our presence? What does it say about us and our opinion of the male of our species if we believe dressing provocatively is the way to a man's heart...or ignore the science behind his struggles?

The trouble, of course, becomes how to make these conscious choices when the selection of modest clothing is sometimes...well...lacking. How can we be fashion forward and trendy without giving up the goods? As a...larger...woman (if you get me drift), it is terribly hard to find ready made clothes that don't in some part let the ladies see more daylight than I'd like. 

I remember trying to find maternity clothing with both babes...why must designers assume that because the girls are bigger, everyone will want (or need) to see them? Even the tank tops I'd use to layer scooped a little too low! Let's not even get started on affordable swimwear!! 

While we are on the subject of design and swimwear, why, oh, why are there little girl swimsuits with plunging necklines or string bikinis? Cute is one thing, but why in the hell (pardon my language) would a three year old need to be sexy? And who in their right mind would want that for their daughters? Clearly enough people that it is marketable, which is a sad commentary on our culture's view of feminine strength and genius.

We women (and men for that matter) are more than our bodies. Our daughters need to know that while they ought to be able to dress however they please without consequence, they should think about the choices they make and what it says about them as well as their view of those around them. Not everything is about sex, though this culture may lead us to believe otherwise. Sexuality is an important part of who we are, but only a part. We are our minds, our hearts, our bodies and most importantly, our souls. When we look to attract others, do we want to attract them to something that is fleeting and inconstant - I mean come on...without a little surgical help, our bodies do show a little wear and tear after awhile. No one in their fifties looks like they did in their twenties by natural means. Why attract someone to something that is not lasting? 

Why must fashion be foreplay? Certainly as married couples, foreplay has its role. I for one don't think it needs to be splashed on every rack, magazine and toddler's body. It, like its close counterpart, sex, has an appropriate time and place...and purpose. Not everything needs to be about sex, and not everything needs to be a precursor to sex. As women of faith in this world, we need to make bold statements about our fashion choices, however limited they may be, to remind men and women that we are more than potential sexual or romantic partners. We need to reclaim beautiful from sexy...and order it of far higher value! Beauty is eternal. Sex fades. At least that's what all the erectile dysfunction commercials would have you think...

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