Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thoughts on Beauty and Modesty and Dooms Day Prophets

It's fair to say that I have a love/hate relationship with my body.

Growing up, I was ugly. Now, before you all start jumping in (I'm talking to YOU, Mother!), hear me out.

I looked like Groucho Marx in a wig. I had chunky legs and thighs, huge catterpillar eyebrows, and frizzy brown hair that no matter HOW much I begged, my mom forbade me from straightening until I was in high school. I was U-G-L-Y I ain't had no allabi UGLY.

Not to worry readers, this is NOT going to be a "Wah Wah Wah! I never felt pretty!" post. While I was indeed a late bloomer, so to speak, some of my most significant moments of personal growth came from dealing with the fact that I didn't look like all the other girls in my class. It was painful and hard, of course, (and to be fair, anyone who says that they didn't struggle with their self image growing up is LYING,) but I seemed to learn by default that true beauty came from within, since I didn't have much outer beauty to begin with at the time. It was through this struggle that I developed my quirky sense of humor, my love of knitting/crochet ("So what if nobody wanted to slow dance with me at Tolo? I CAN KNIT A SOCK, I WIN!") and my love of all things musical, and helped me to focus on my flute and singing. ("So what if my crush just called me hideous? I'M FIRST CHAIR AND KNOW HOW TO PLAY THE PICCOLO, BITCHES!")

Fast forward about ten years later. I had grown out of the seemingly never ending "awkward phase" with a copy of vogue magazine, a flat iron, and a lot of support from my family, friends and faith. God bless Fr. Derek Lappee, while I was cantoring at St. Thomas Aquinas parish (I was still unbelievebly and irrationally afraid of the congregation thinking I was ugly), he had trained the alter servers to tell me, "Jackie, you look fine, quit fussing," if they had caught me frantically primping in the mirror.

My freshman year of college was...I don't want to say difficult, but just...kind of a "stank" year when it came to my self image and self respect. I went into college, thinking that I could reinvent myself as a fasion forward young lady, but came out of it forty pounds heavier with a terrible excuse for a bob haircut that I tried to dye blonde but came out Ronald McDonald red.

Luckily for me, I was able to make it through all of this, get a better fasion sense and maintain my love of all things quirky to boot.

As I've gotten older and a bit more professional, I can't help but notice how very EASY it is to be modest (you rarely find receptionists/admin assistants with bare midriffs or skin tight pants). But even so, it seems like I'm not exactly up to par with some people's definition.

Recently, I've been humiliated/taunted by a group of doomsday prophets/"evangelists" due to my choice of makeup. Readers, I have bright red lips. I LOVE wearing bright red lipstick, having that vintage 1940's/1920's  look (which, ironically, I started so that I could DRESS A BIT MORE MODEST.) However, this made me a "lustful whore who is going to BURN BURN BURN unless I SEE THE LIGHT," as one of the followers kindly pointed out. Also, apparently there was a problem with the fact that I was wearing pants...yeah.

A similar thing happened a couple years back, when I was still working at Pikes' Place Market. I think it may have been the same church group; only that time I was wearing earrings that were too gaudy for their liking (at the time, I was wearing a pair of blue jeans and my Piroshky Piroshky t-shirt). I decided to get snarky and asked if the guy wanted a hug. He accused me of looking at him with lust. I shot back with reminding him that if HIS eyes cause him to sin, then HE SHOULD PLUCK THEM OUT. Your problem, not mine, you effin bigot. He called me a slut and walked away.

Being taunted by these guys just...makes me so angry. And depressed.  Makes me feel ugly and dirty and ashamed.

But it's more than just psychotic dooms day prophets that tell me this and cause me to feel this way.

I know that I am loved by God, and that I should rejoice in knowing that true beauty comes from within. But when my brothers and sisters in God come to me, sneer, and tell me that "I'm leading others into sinful ways," that "I love low and dirty things, and my soul is becoming low and foul," and that I am to blame for the harassment/groping that occasionaly happens on crowded downtown busses (yes, it still happens, folks...) I just want to curl up in a ball and dissapear.

I hate, HATE that people in the church are putting women to blame for this humiliation and abuse! I HATE IT!

The more I look for it, the more I find misogyny everywhere in the church. Women are still being denied the right to be priests in Catholosism for what I can find is nothing more than a "good ole' boy" network. In Guatamala, the church had excommunicated a woman for getting an abortion for her ten year old daughter, but had NOT excommunicated the 45-year old man who had raped the girl. There are still ass-backwards "ministries" out there who tell women that they are commiting a sin for wearing PANTS.

I love the church. But there are times when it seems as if they're trying to make Lutherans of us all.

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