out of the closet

Something happens when you turn 40, I think: a new kind of freedom, where you aren't so afraid to be yourself: to say what you really believe.  Other people's opinions about what is good for you don't  matter so much and you start to truly know yourself.   A couple of weeks ago I put on a skirt and I fell in love.  I think I've been at odds with fashion all my life, never really understanding how or what to wear, uncomfortable in my own skin.  I've worn skirts before of course, plenty of times, but I was more afraid then.  Afraid to be different (is it just the Pacific NW or are jeans the only thing in anyone's wardrobe nowadays?), afraid to be unstylish, afraid people would assume I was part of an ultra-conservative crowd that doesn't represent many of my beliefs.  (That last one is something to repent of, I think.) 

But a funny thing happened.  As I've started to dress for myself and the fears have dropped away, I've been thinking how skirt/dress wearing can be a deliberate statement about what I DO believe in.

I believe that women are made in God's image:  equal, strong, capable and powerful, but different than men.  Though I side more with Christian feminism (actually, more Christian egalitarianism) than with the LAF crowd, I think feminism is misguided when we try to be the same as men in everything.   Why on earth do I want to act or look or respond like a man when I have all the resources, intelligence and giftings of a woman?  I believe a woman should have the equal opportunity to serve as a Supreme Court Justice or a firefighter or an executive or a stay-at-home parent.  But I think she should bring her unique femininity to that service.  A woman judge will bring a different nuance to her judgements than a male judge because her perspectives, understanding and interpretations are different than a man's.  We need both sexes.  Two genders is a blessing, not a curse. 

I believe womanhood is a gift to be celebrated out loud.  I put on a skirt and look in the mirror and Ain't I a Woman?  All the world round, through myriad of cultures, skirts are the territory of women.  This struck me the other day when I was shopping at Goodwill.  Four of us stood in the skirt aisle:  myself - a middle-aged white mom, and three young, gorgeous Muslim sisters, dressed in head scarves and floor-length skirts:  just women.   Doesn't that make you smile to think of something so simple and yet so radical?  Every day if I choose,  I can wear this simple symbol of femininity in solidarity with all other women around the world.  Amazing.

I believe it's our job to be a model to the young girls coming after us.  With three teens in the house I meet a lot of young girls.  I am incredibly sad for the disservice our culture has done them.  To many young women, to be "feminine" is to be overtly sexual.  Oh sisters.  We simply MUST model for these girls what beauty and loveliness and purity look like.   We should be visible lights in the darkness, modeling for them a message of strong womanhood.  I don't at all mean that dresses/skirts is the only way to do this.   But in a visual society we should be working determinedly to model the image of God for girls.  For me, wearing a skirt is becoming an outward show of the confidence and pride I have in my womanhood and the things I want for my daughter.  If we are modest, tasteful, deliberate and lovely in our own appearance, we can literally show girls that beauty and dignity are their birthrights too. 

I can't contain all the passion I have for women's issues in one blog post, but something has changed for me in the last weeks and I'm sure I'll be writing more.  For now, I've got my skirts out of the closet and I'm wearing them with pride.

91/366 - This is me: a woman.  And proud of it.