Thursday, November 29, 2012


The devil is vying with God for beauty.  While God uses beauty to draw us to Himself,  
the devil manipulates beauty in an effort to lead us astray.  We, too, can use beauty, not out of vanity, but as part of our witness, drawing others to the Good.

A few weeks ago, I attended a Christian women's conference.  One of the speakers was scheduled to offer comments curiously entitled, "Does fashion matter?"  Reading the schedule prior to the event prompted me to say to a few of my close friends, "goodness, this conference is really going to cramp the jeans-and-athletic-shirt motif that I have going these days."  

While I promise that I shower on a (semi) regular basis, and I have plenty of presentable clothes in my closet, I am not a fashionista.  First of all, fashion has never been a forte or fascination of mine.  The most fashionable clothes in my closet are either hand-me-downs from my younger sister or gifts from my mother-in-law.  Second of all, I don't enjoy shopping all that much, and with a growing family and a limited budget, neither T nor I have purchased clothes for ourselves in years.  Third, what is the point of getting dressed up in the morning when my day will include crawling on the floor, changing diapers, all manner of mommy-gymnastics, and any number of bodily fluids being wiped on my clothes?

Needless to say, I listened to the speaker's talk at the conference as a skeptic.  But, I was surprised.  The speaker was a lovely, but not overstated, full-time mother of six, not much older than myself.  Her message did not extol fashion as an end in itself, nor did she pressure the pursuit of beauty for vanity or vainglory.  But she submitted that, just as we expect our children and spouse to be dressed and ready to represent themselves well each day, so too must we respect ourselves and our important work through the way we dress.  This needn't involve spending a lot of money, but it does require time to put together activity-appropriate outfits to reflect the dignity and importance of the work we are pursuing.  Dressing well for the day and applying some sensible make-up can also affect how prepared we feel for the day.  

The talk made an impression on me.  I was struck by the fact that, in the same way I want to present myself appropriately-dressed before my patients as a physician, I want to present myself well as a full-time mother before my husband, children and the people we meet each day.  In both cases, the image I am presenting isn't for my vanity or glory, but one of respect for the work I am doing and the role I am fulfilling.  Additionally, if I want my children to respect themselves in the way they dress, I need to set an example in that regard.  And finally, the way I present myself to the world can affect the witness of my faith.  The devil is vying with God for beauty.  While God uses beauty to draw us to Himself, the devil manipulates beauty in an effort to lead us astray.  We, too, can use beauty, not out of vanity, but as part of our witness, drawing others to the Good.  

Coming home from the conference, I was motivated.  A friend told me about the 333 Challenge, a minimalist fashion challenge involving three months of using just 33 items.  It sounded good to me! I cleaned my closet of all the clothing that I didn't wear (a surprisingly large amount), and organized the rest into coordinated outfit groups to make morning selections easier (think packing for a weeklong vacation).  Voila!  A handful of coordinated outfits did wonders for my daily wardrobe doldrums.

Next, it was time to tackle the cosmetics bag.  It took quite a bit of rummaging just to find it.  When I did, I realized how little make-up I have used since getting married.  If motherhood and medical school did nothing for my fashion sense, they did even less for my make-up routine.  The only mascara in my bag was a sample-size from our wedding day.  The eyeshadow, cover-up and lipstick were even older. Eew.

So, off to Target I ran.  Thanks to Brie, our Target make-up-artist-in-residence (I didn't know Target was that kind of store either, but seriously, this girl was great), I had four pieces of perfectly picked cosmetic staples within 3 minutes.  She singlehandedly revolutionized my 2 minute morning make-up routine (which didn't exist before now).  Thank you, Brie.

You know what?  These little changes have made a big difference in how I look and feel everyday.  Maybe others haven't noticed the change as much as I have.  But, I feel more presentable, put-together and more prepared to tackle my days.  This mini-make-over isn't just about how I feel, though.  It is about the respect and gratitude I am showing for my work, my calling, my family, my faith.  And hopefully, at the end of the day, even if it doesn't show on the outside, I want the make-over to shine from my heart.

1 comment:

Jen said...

So true! I have struggled (on many levels - time, energy, money, philosophical/faith considerations, etc) about the time and/or money and/or energy spent in looking presentable. Lately I've fallen where you have, but I wouldn't have stated it so eloquently :) It's nice to hear that others agree and that they're speaking about it!