This morning I got up and got dressed in my skinny jeans and cute t-shirt and felt really disappointed. This feels … normal. I have spent the last few days feeling stunning, like a princess, and today, I have returned to “normal”. Let me tell you how it happened:
I am the type of woman who grew up hiding her figure. My sister would look at my over-sized t-shirt and baggy jeans and say with disgust, “You’re going out of the house in that?!” Daily, I received this reprimand. I didn’t care because I was comfortable. No one was admiring me, I was happily invisible. Well, not really. Actually, I hated being invisible. But I hated male attention even more. All that ever came of male attention was the inevitable rejection. I wasn’t good enough to keep one, so why attract them in the first place? This attitude followed me out of the hallowed halls of high school into the real world and ten years later, my closet still resembles that desire to hide myself from appreciative eyes. So much so that when I told my sister and my friends that I would be speaking at a singles’ conference, they all gave me that look of horror my sister had donned and demanded I not dress myself. Everyone cried out, “Intervention!!” My sister came over one Saturday to do my hair and make-up just so I could submit a picture for my speaker bio. We were both pleased with the results. A few days before the conference, my BFFs came over to figure out what I was wearing. They pulled their closets apart and brought over armloads of dresses that I sifted through and tried on without conviction. I was simply submitting to their desire to dress me up. But as I walked from one room to the other in each dress, something happened. I felt nice. I looked in the mirror and realized I have a figure. I actually have curves I haven’t seen in years, and they looked nice. Not that I want to entice my brothers in Christ, but if I ever want to get married, I have to embrace my own body. You know what turns a guy off more than a few extra curves here and there? Insecurity.
We picked out a very elegant, very cute navy blue dress that I wore with pearls and a light brown cardigan. My BFF sent brought over a pair of Herring-bone tights (what’s that, right?), and my outfit was complete. The next morning, the morning of the conference, I was up a few hours early to get ready because my sister was coming back over to do my hair and make-up. I’ll just admit, I am fashion-challenged. I don’t care for make-up, can do very little for my hair and have no idea what goes with what between shoes, belts, tops, etc. When it was all said and done, I looked pretty. I felt pretty. I walked out of my house with my head held high in dignity. Dignity … that’s not something I have ever felt before.
I got to the conference and had this such a sense of self-respect that made being a door greeter so much easier. I wasn’t worrying about what everyone else thought about me, for once in my life. I didn’t care. I felt good about myself. I felt respectable. I felt beautiful. For the first time in my life, I felt like a lady.
There’s a huge book on my table right now that I have picked through several times, but never fully committed to reading. It’s the newest edition of Etiquette. It’s the modern edition (18th edition) of a book written by Emily Post in the early 1900’s, when women were casting off their identities for a lifestyle they decided was much more exciting and liberating. Indeed it was liberating. Dresses became much shorter, the bob came into vogue and women started smoking and cussing. Everyone thinks that women became vulgar during the sixties, but it really happened way before then. It just wasn’t as mainstream. In the twenties, these women of perceived ill-regard were called flappers. You couldn’t call someone a flapper today without being slapped. It was and is still, a negative term. These women uncovered the shock value of femininity in our culture and then paraded it around. Men were shocked and mesmerized. When women began to devalue themselves in earnest, men took advantage. What use to cost something akin to commitment now cost nothing more than a good meal and some vague flattery. And for whatever reason, we as a society have been slipping down that slope ever since. Being a lady has become little more than a memory.
What happened in me during the conference is what I pray begins to happen to women across the country. I discovered my true femininity. That of modesty and elegance and daintiness. For once, I wasn’t feeling lusted after, I was feeling admired. And I didn’t have to strain for admiration, it followed me around the room. I felt like a princess.
And finally, in defense of men, I would like to add that we as women have paraded our immodesty before the eyes of men and then gasped in disgust at greedy eyes and hands. We don’t want to be ogled and viewed as sex objects, yet we do very little to portray that we are more than just a fantastic looking piece of meat. Men are visual, and we overload their number-one sense every day. Shame on us for seducing our brothers down paths of perversity and then shaking our heads at their fleshly failures. We are often the very reason men are not gentlemen. We lure out their base desires and refuse to hold them to higher standards such as loyalty, honesty, chivalry and above all, Godliness. Maybe, if we restore ourselves to lady-likeness, men can also be restored as gentlemen.
To that end, I am not suggesting we return to long dresses and long hair, and to be “seen and not heard.” We have come a long way as a society that once oppressed women and ultimately, it has been for our good. But at some point, the feminist movement became a monster that caused impropriety to become a societal trend, and look at where we are now. These days, our PG ratings include complete nudity, boobs and butts are literally popping out everywhere, and men are being lambasted for succumbing to the seduction of their female coworkers. Sure, we should expect them to control themselves. But come on! We need to control ourselves too.
In the end, all I am saying is that there is something very gratifying about dignity and common decency. We should all desire more of it, in ourselves and others. When we become more lady-like, we ultimately become more like the woman God intended us to be. I believe this, because I saw her in myself this past weekend. It felt nice to know myself.