This weekend was rainy and cold providing an opportunity to view lots of t.v. with the kids while Steve got caught up on sleep and homework. So we watched a failed house flip and multiple episodes of TLC’s What Not To Wear and something began to dawn on me. The young men on the Flip show would not listen to the woman veteran house investor and lost a ton of money and most likely their minds on the project. This reinforces a mode of operating that is seen most often by my kids on Disney where young, bright people know everything and adults are stupid and ineffective. But most disturbing to me was a pattern of thinking from the women who needed to learn What Not To Wear.
Usually the show is more about what is going on inside these fashion victims rather than how they appear on the outside. Our first participant could, by the end of the show, say that she loved the outfits but still couldn’t articulate loving the woman in the clothes. The second participant had more of an epiphany as she came to grips with needing to shed a tomboy image in order to grow up her style. Or maybe to grow up, that is left for the viewer to decide.
The Tomboy was able to articulate her idea of feminine clothes as a sign of weakness. I’ve heard this from other ladies on the show. That dresses, or traditionally more feminine style is giving up strength for fashion. Where did this idea come from? And why is it so ingrained. I’ve been thinking about this topic since reading Radical Womanhood by Caroline McCulley which traces current feminist thought through American history and shows us just how much we’ve absorbed. We had a women’s retreat where she was our Keynote speaker in the fall. It was terrific and probably why I picked up on the theme in the show. The idea is that women who look like women are weaker. But as the show points out there is no real answer to the question of weaker than who? Their husbands? Their colleagues? Other women who dress like men? It was fun to see the Tomboy embrace her girlie side and hear her acknowledge the positive results of the changes she made. She did not say that she had believed a lie, but it seemed to echo off my television. Women are not created to be men. Frumpy will rarely get you where you want to go in life. Style isn’t everything, but it is also not meaningless.
Hurray for the pendulum swinging in favor of God’s created order, even if you have to listen closely. Blessings.
To read Carolyn’s Blog.