Friday, November 16, 2007

My Two Cents, comments on manners and fashion

Just my two cents, for whatever it is worth.

Bloggers, are people too and as such, we have all kinds. There are some who are very academic and others who are ridiculous, just as in real life. There are those who are devout and those who lack any spirituality whatsoever. I could belabor the point and continue rattling on, but you get the idea.

Many of us read and comment on the same blogs because we have similar interests, so some of you will know what I’m referring to, for the rest of you, generalities will suffice and you will still be able to follow the thread of thinking here, I hope.

There has been a debate going on between blogs which has gotten rather ugly. One blog has stopped accepting comments because they’ve been so hurtful. Another blog has a sometimes witty author who has a bit of a sting to her posts. I’m sure she is very lovely(giving her the benefit of the doubt), unless you get on her bad side. Then she can be mean. But, it is her blog, she can write what she wants and needn’t apologize for it. If you don’t like it, don’t read it, no one is forcing you to. The same should apply to the one who has gotten hurt, who is also very witty. If you visit a blog and you don’t like it, don’t go back. But, in this case I think it went deeper. I think that one blogger felt she needed to somehow help the other see the error of her ways (as she perceived it), and perhaps she had some points worth making, but under the sting it all got lost. Incidentally, in this particular debate, I take no sides. I think both had valid points and each had less than stellar moments where they perhaps crossed some invisible line of blogger etiquette.

I am a proponent of all things in moderation. Except devotion to God. We are all to strive to be the best we can be, and to grow away from worldly things and closer to our Lord. We are mere human beings, and as such we suffer under the burden of original sin. Whatever means we employ to remind ourselves of our task, our ultimate goal, it is worthy. Personally, I wear skirts all the time. I haven’t always done so, but I started to do so to remind myself to pray without ceasing. Every time I struggle to figure out a way to do something that I was accustomed to doing in jeans and face some difficulty or inconvenience due to the skirts, I pray. In the meantime I figured out how to be much more feminine in my carriage, and behaviors than I had been used to, because in skirts you need to watch how you sit, move, and even get in or out of a car (or truck as I drive). My husband appreciates my femininity being more visible, and frankly, I enjoy it. There are days when my outfits aren’t as pretty as others (like today where I’m wearing a denim skirt which is missing its lower button, an old shirt, and sneakers) but I wouldn’t wear this outfit to go out anywhere either. I like longer (nearly to the ankle) and flowing skirts because they make me feel pretty and feminine. I like the way the skirts move when I walk and fall about the chair when I sit. It is a part of being a girl that I enjoy.

One thing about doing something in moderation, even wearing skirts, is that I try to be as fashionable as I can afford (even if it means a wardrobe purchased entirely at goodwill or some discount retailer) but I do want to look fashionable. I adore retro fashions (even as far back as regency fashion) but only if I can pull it off without making a spectacle. I’m not courageous enough to sport something which will make draw too much attention, positive or negative, because I don’t like to be the focus of attention. As much as I admire beautiful, retro clothes, unless I can update them to blend into society (fabric, hemline, neckline, sleeve alterations) I cannot bring myself to do it. Now, that is personal style, taking what you love-say Victorian fashion-updating it and making it your own. See, I told you I was a former fashionista, it still shows up in my thinking every now and again. I love hats of every sort, never had the boldness to wear them. I wish they would make a fashion come back, I LOVE them.

Does this all mean that I would mock someone for their fashion choices? No, and any good, decent person wouldn’t do it either. But, on the other hand, many people nowadays have no sense of propriety in either manners or attire. Anyone who wears clothes is asking for attention of some sort. Some are trying to be invisible. Some are going for shock value. Some are trying to impress the Joneses. Some are dressing to please the opposite sex. Some dress to say, “I don’t care what I look like, I’m just throwing this on because I must wear something.” Some are just trying to make a statement. If correction is required (and you'd better know for sure), it is to be done charitably, and before correcting someone there should be some thought put into it. For the love of God (charity) requires forethought before wagging your tongue.

There are times when the fashions of others prove to be lessons for those we love, like when the ‘lady’ who is standing in front of your son in the grocery store has a shirt too low cut and every time she reaches into her cart you can identify the brand of her undergarments, or even if she is wearing any. That is a lesson for your son in averting his eyes, and also for what he should not be looking for in a girl. Any girl who would flash just anyone anywhere is probably not the type of girl you’d wish your son to date. It is also a chance to instruct your daughter in what she should avoid in wardrobe choices AND why. But, this instruction to your children should be done privately. Sniggering aloud, saying, “Look at THAT” is not good manners. Nor should anyone snigger at the lady who is dressed so modestly as to make a spectacle of herself.

Personally, I think I would notice someone dressed to any extreme. Maybe that is again the former fashionista in me. But, unless the clothing is totally lacking in modesty, I generally admire people who have the courage to blaze their own trail and have a personal style, whether it is fashionable and attractive or not. You must give people credit for having the courage to step out the door, especially when they are doing so for the love of God. Even if you do not agree with or approve of a person’s theology, methodology, or sense of fashion, if they are attempting to glorify God, even if you think it is a misguided attempt, mocking someone for their belief in God and how they live it out is bad manners. Educating people who are wrong (if they even are, and sometimes that is just your opinion and maybe you should keep your mouth shut) should be done charitably and privately. Even if you think a blogger is asking for it, all correction should be done with charity.

All of us who blog have something to say. We like to think we have something important to say, or something of value to report. Many of us hold very strong opinions. We all like the attention blogging brings or we wouldn’t track who is reading what we write and site meter wouldn’t be so busy. We should all realize if we put things on the net they will be read. We should also realize that if we do not want people to know what we really think then we ought not to blog, and if our skin isn’t thick enough, we shouldn’t put ourselves out there to be read and commented upon. But, readers ought to have some manners as well. Comments should all be polite, even if disagreeing. There is a fascination with earlier times, English literature, books of manners, classic stories. I have said so on here, as recently as last week, and I think it is because we have such loose standards in today’s society that we find ourselves wondering if there are any standards at all. Kindness and charity is a choice that should be exercised because it is the right way to behave. But, as I said at the beginning, this is just my two cents.


Katherine T. Lauer said...

What lovely sentiment, Lily. The rudeness on the Internet is so disheartening, especially when it is on a list of supposedly devote Catholic women! (I fail in this area as well.)

Your description for why you wear skirts was very helpful. I agree with you about the benefit in those moments spent trying to figure out how to do something in a skirt instead of pants. I always think, "If the prarie women could do it, so can I."

Lily said...

I think of the prairie women too, isn't that funny?

deb said...

I think that the discussion of modesty is a subject that makes some women automatically defensive. I am uncertain why.

I like your explanation of your reason for wearing skirts.

Lily said...

Hi Deb,
Thanks for coming by!

I suspect that the reason some women get defensive about modesty may be that they are, on some level, perhaps ashamed of their own decisions. Or, if they are not ashamed, they may know in their hearts they aren't living a chaste/modest lifestyle. But, that is just my guess.

There are many layers to chastity and modesty and I do think there is some instinct, God given, that women possess and know when they are not fulfilling their duty. I am by no means stating that all women should wear skirts and dresses (although I should not mind a return to femininity across society) but that by virtue of the relationship of men and women that women are held to a higher standard. We know it, all women know it.