Friday, May 2, 2008

From Male Clothing to Feminine

‘In seeking to become modest, I became masculine.’Genevieve Smith's Testimony on Femininity and Modesty

I’m the eldest of seven children and currently clock in at 24 years of age. I was blessed by being born into a gung-ho Christian family located in central New Zealand. I was raised to dress modestly. To me, being modest meant wearing clothing which was not skimpy, tight or revealing. But somehow, along the way, in seeking to become modest, I became masculine.

The Slippery Slip

I always was something of a tomboy growing up. I preferred trousers to skirts, mainly because I didn’t like any of my skirts, but also because feminine attire would have been unpractical for a young girl who liked to romp with her younger brothers, climb trees and dig holes with them in the garden! As I grew up and matured, and as the fashions changed it became harder and harder to find clothing which I considered to be modest. I started to sew my own clothing and this allowed me to sew skirts which I liked. I began to wear skirts more and more often.

About four years ago, my brother and I took off for the USA for an extended overseas experience. I packed two pairs of trousers and two skirts – all garments I had sewed myself. When the time came to wash my clothes, I put them through the dryer and my trousers and skirts, being used to being dried on a clothes line in New Zealand, all shrank. What a dilemma! I found myself in foreign country in need of replenishing my wardrobe. This proved to be a difficult task. The clothing in the women’s sections all seemed too flimsy and impractical. And they seemed to be made for women much smaller than my height of 5’11”. And so I turned to the men’s section to find garments which were loose, baggy and ‘modest’ enough for me to feel comfortable wearing.

The Discovery

Then one day I looked down at myself and thought, ‘I look just like a man.’ It was true. From my shoes to my sweater my clothing had all come from the men’s section. This is when I realized that in seeking to be modest I’d become masculine. I was truly horrified. I’d been seeking to please God with my modesty, but realized that I wasn’t pleasing Him by being masculine. In fact, I realized that my masculine appearance sent the message that I was rejecting God’s gifts of womanhood and femininity to me. It struck me that that was what I was missing: femininity. I needed to be feminine just as much as I needed to be modest. This would be pleasing to God.

The Road to Recovery (and Feminine Modesty!)

The area of femininity became a major subject of study for me. I read books, talked to peers, sat under the teaching of older women and attempted to learn all I could about being feminine. One book I read described femininity as being the opposite of masculinity. This helped me a lot. I connected this concept with the ideas that I was learning that colours and colour combinations can be feminine or masculine, that various fabrics can be feminine or masculine, that patterns on fabric can be feminine or masculine, that cuts and styles and forms of tailoring can be feminine or masculine. My wardrobe went through a reformation, and indeed continues to reform as I learn more about femininity.

To ensure I keep learning and growing and don’t start to cruise, I’ve put into place a number of initiatives. Firstly, I review my wardrobe every six months or so either by myself or with the help of a family member or friend. Immodest/unfeminine clothing simply has a way of making its way into my wardrobe. Secondly, I’ve started a folder on femininity. Articles, pictures of feminine looking women or pieces of clothing, fabric cuttings, colour combinations and other findings relating to femininity all go into my folder.

The Lord is good. Not only has He opened my eyes about the importance of femininity, but He has shown me how important a witness I have as a Christian girl to this pagan world in the way that I dress. May my wardrobe continue to reform in ways that please the Lord. I praise the name of the Lord.
~ Genevieve Smith, 2004

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