If I were an Old Testament style prophet, one thing I’d rail against would be fashion. No, I wouldn’t be against beautiful designer dresses. I’d save my rants for body fashions.
Given my taste for outrageous behavior, it would probably give me way too much pleasure to go about the streets of Jerusalem in sackcloth and ashes crying to strangers that a wrathful God will send wolves against the city if the grown women of Jerusalem don’t at once cease from starving themselves into shapes only natural for a newly minted adolescent.
I doubt I get the job, though. The only slots open for Old Testament style prophets these days seem to be reserved for railing against comparatively trivial things — like homosexuality, evolution, or premarital sex. *sigh* Gone are the days when prophets had vision.
Sometime ago, a brilliant but cynical 14 year old girl with a Reubanesque figure befriended me. One evening we had the following brief exchange:
She: “I’ll never have a boyfriend.”
Me: “Are you kidding? You’re smart, witty, and fit — Pretty soon I’ll have to beat the boys off you with a stick.”
She: “No you won’t. I don’t have a fashionable figure, and that’s all that matters.”
Maybe it was the way she said it — with so much more gravity than her years. Or, maybe it was the kernel of truth in what she said. In either case, her words have stuck with me. She had a large, unfashionable figure, but she was fit and healthy. What more than health and fitness should the fashion industry demand of us?
There are all sorts of reasons to oppose the fashion industry’s narrow ideal of beauty. But the reason that might someday prompt me to don sackcloth and ashes is this: You spend years trying to instill confidence and self-respect in a kid. Then along comes this alien grinding machine — the fashion industry — and all it is willing to do is grind away at that confidence and self-respect, leaving the kid setback and doubting herself.
I’m of the opinion the most valuable happiness comes from our being true to ourselves. When we have found that happiness from being true to ourselves, our confidence and self-respect become firmly established.
Yet, all too often, society throws up unnecessary obstacles to being true to ourselves. The fashion industry is very much a case in point: It’s insistence on only a narrow ideal of beauty unsuited to many people insidiously undermines the notion of being true to yourself, and with it, the happiness that comes from that. May the Assyrian wolves descend upon it!