I was shopping with my roommate last week, and the handbag lady at DSW walked up to me and said, “Your style is so classy yet sexy. Tell me your style secrets.” We got to talking about how “kids these days” dress, and she said, “If you could say any one thing to women in their late teens and early twenties, what would you say?”
I think I answered with something about not dressing to impress other people because you can’t possibly make everyone happy with your style choices. Even as the words came out of my mouth, I knew they were only part of the truth.
Here are more parts of the truth, that I didn’t say: I’m confident because I was homeschooled and didn’t grow up always comparing myself to everyone else; because my parents never told me I was fat and always told me I was beautiful; because I’m in my 30’s now and know what clothes look good on my body type.
I mean, sure – I was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). I could talk all day about how that makes me beautiful. But the thing running through the back of my head when I was talking to the handbag sales lady was not that. It was this:
I am confident in my style and body because the only One I have to please is God. And He sees me just as He sees Jesus. So I don’t even have to do any work to be pleasing to Him (Titus 3:4-7).
Way a long time ago, humans made the decision to sin, which separated us from God forever. However, God was not willing for that to happen, so He sent His son Jesus to take the punishment – the death – we deserved (2 Cor 5:21). Now, the Bible says that Jesus stands in my place before God. And since Jesus is perfect and beautiful, God sees me as perfect and beautiful.
Practically, I know how to dress for my body type; I ask my roommates if what I’m wearing is appropriate; I wear work clothes to work and beach clothes to the beach. I know I live in a physical world with physical requirements of beauty and appropriateness. I go to the gym and try to eat vegetables occasionally. Collectively, my roommates and I have hundreds of nail polishes, dozens of lipsticks, and scarves up the wazoo.
But I don’t let that be where I get my sense of self. I don’t let my clothes and make-up and hair be what I put my hope in. I don’t let other people’s opinions of my clothes or weight dictate my identity. I don’t let food be my sole satisfaction in life (though ice cream sometimes vies with Jesus for my favorite thing in the world).
I keep thinking about the question the handbag lady asked me. What would I say to young people trying to figure out style, and maybe not even realizing that it’s tied to acceptance issues?
Maybe something like this:
As a single person, I know it’s easy to try to find affirmation in other people and style blogs and especially that one cute person you have a crush on. It’s easy to get carried away with, “What am I going to wear to church?!” or “OMG, what if this the week my future husband walks in the door and sees me wearing something dumb? I gotta CHHHHHAAAAAANGE!”
I know it’s crazy tempting to dress in such a way that gets attention, and to measure the success of an outfit on how many “Wow, that’s so cute! Where did you get it?” comments – or maybe by the number of heads you turn.
It’s also tempting to give up and just wear whatever because you don’t want to be caught trying to be cute and failing. Or because you think you’re not beautiful anyway.
But God sees you as beautiful – not because you tried hard enough or dressed cute enough or worked well enough. Because Jesus did.
So what more approval could we possibly need?