I have a confession. Last year when I spoke at a public event I wore my husband’s belt to hold up my sagging khaki pants. I realize not only my three sisters but also Polly Peterson will be disappointed in me, even though they are well-aware of my aversion to all things fashion and my determination to shop for clothes only when absolutely necessary, like last week when I pulled on my one and only go-to pair of black pants only to discover I’d completely worn out the lining and it was dangling by a few threads all of which forced me to shop for a new pair only after taking the old ones to a tailor who laughed at me when I asked if she could repair my worn-out pants.
So, I really need to come clean about my lack of a belt and thus my need to borrow from my husband’s closet: I had failed to embrace hipster jeans much preferring the kind that sits at your waist (as in good ole-fashioned Levi’s before they started all this weird stuff that makes wearing jeans, well, just not fun anymore). I really thought it would be only a year of two and we would be back to the normal jean world and my need for a hip-length belt would disappear and my resistance to the fashion trends would be rewarded by not spending $20 bucks on a new belt.
Clearly I was wrong about the fashion trends (big surprise there) and since, apparently, low-rise is here to stay I figured I should acquiesce, catch up with the times, and purchase a useful belt or two.
Fortunately, in my new desire to embrace fashion, I have found a godly fashion guru who can help me navigate this confusing world. Shari Braendel of FashionMeetsFaith.com inspires Christian women to embrace their self-worth by connecting fashion and faith. While, admittedly, I have made significant strides in the area of fashion this past year learning all about Vera Bradley and occasionally donning a slim scarf to accent an outfit (being careful to use a small one because Polly told me a larger one would drown me), I was a little perplexed about the relationship between fashion and faith until I began my online tutelage with Shari Braendel.
A successful image consultant, Braendel believes Christian women often do not know how to dress partly because we’ve been taught by the church that what is important is our inner beauty. The result, unfortunately, is not knowing what to do with the outer body (I suppose something like wearing your husband’s belt might fall into this category).
Braendel claims women need to have a balance between their inner and outer beauty because according to PS 45.11, a verse she quotes frequently, “the King is enthralled by our beauty.” Or, in Braendel’s words: “There’s nothing wrong or sinful about celebrating our bodies. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. …Hiding behind long skirts and shirts up to our necks doesn’t make us any more pure. Being frumpy and disheveled does nothing for our self-confidence.”
Related, I suppose, to our goal of enthralling our King, is that we are not to merely reflect our culture, but we are to be transformed by Christ—a useful phrase Braendel culls from Romans 12.2—to support her notion that, “We’re a walking advertisement for Jesus to the outside world, so what’s wrong with being attractive and relevant?”
Right. There is nothing the matter with the idea that as women we were created to be eye-candy for a male God. I don’t know about you, but this notion works wonder for my sense of identity and purpose. To realize there is little difference between being visually consumed by a culture saturated with physical perfection illustrated by super-thin, tall, big-boobed, long-haired, air-brushed creations and the Divine is quite a motivator for me.
And, I am in no way concerned about the contradictory ideas that on the one hand God consumes the outward beauty of our bodies we are to accept as being God-given with the other assertion that we are to be transformed by Christ, and so should clothe these bodies in ways that accentuate the positive (turtle necks to not do this, I’m learning) and nullify the negatives (did you know that just by pushing long sleeves up midway on your arm you can take ten pounds off your appearance?).
All-in-all I’d say I’m learning a lot from Shari and I think she would be super excited to know that I have embraced my outer beauty by buying my own hip-hugging belt . Who knows, if I keep at this long enough, I might become a graduate of one of Braendel’s Christian Image Consultant Certification Course.
If you’d like to learn more, you can read Braendel’s book, Good Girls Don’t Have to Dress Bad: A Style Guide for Every Woman where you can learn how to apply make-up while celebrating who you are in Christ.