modern mom challenge: saying goodbye to copycat fashion and designer labels

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being a mom is hard. like, really hard sometimes.  and being an Orthodox mom in a modern world makes it that much more difficult.  that’s why i’ve come up with this modern mom challenge.  think of it as a {pre}spring cleaning checklist for our lives.  we’re going to figure out what’s cluttering up our lives and get rid of it.  i’m going to bare all in a series of posts and talk about some of the things that bother me personally about myself and my life.  and you are too.  ready?  good.  let’s get started.

1. make a list of the things you dislike about yourself or your lifestyle.  then, figure out how you can change those things.  figure out what tempts you and how you can avoid it.

here’s my number one:

01.  say goodbye to copycat fashion and designer labels.  find people who inspire me and follow them everywhere.  (totally joking.  you know, about the following part.  unless it’s online, of course)

i chose that as number one because i feel like personal style does not fit with the person i’m trying to be anymore.  as we get older our priorities change, internally we evolve as women and mothers.  this means our outward appearance needs to change as well.  

so here’s what’s going on…

for the past couple of months i’ve been feeling a little anxious-a little off balance and i wasn’t really sure why.  by nature, i’m not an anxious or stressed out type of person so it really bothered me to feel that way.

then i had a realization.  i realized that i was only letting myself try so hard in my attempt to grow closer to God.  somehow i started telling myself that what i was doing was enough for right now and that there were certain things that i didn’t have to focus on because they weren’t “that big of a deal”.  there are, of course, larger and more important issues to work on first.  but that mindset was the whole problem.  it was like a roadblock in my journey toward Christ.  i couldn’t get as close as i wanted to be, as i’ve been in the past, because there was something in my way.  me.

we all have images of the kind of person we are and want to be. we relate to certain types of people and are instinctively drawn to them.

for me, when i watch movies and read books and i always relate to the down-to-earth-homebody-domestic-bookworm types.  i can’t wait to be old and gray and sitting in a rocking chair knitting sweaters for my grandchildren.  i love to knit and garden and be in the kitchen.  picnics in the park with lace tablecloths and real glassware, handwritten letters, classical music and things made my hand.  those are the kinds of things that i appreciate and enjoy.  it doesn’t matter if they’re trendy at the time or not, those are the sort of things i have and will always love.

just to give you an idea, this is what i look like in my mind.  peaceful, enjoying a nice stroll and a good book.  this is who i feel like i am on the inside.

me in my head

but in real life i feel like i look more like this.

me in real life (sort of)

okay, okay, maybe it’s more like this. but you get my picture.

me for real

either way, it’s clear that these two types of people are on completely different ends of the spectrum.  and i chose andrea from the devil wears prada because i really can relate to the inner struggle her character faces.  it’s a power struggle of andrea vs. andie.  she’s stuck between two versions of herself and feels the weight and guilt of not staying true to the person she knows she is.  that’s exactly how i feel.

lately, i feel like i’ve sort of lost myself.  i catch myself thinking and even doing things that just aren’t me.  i care about things that i really don’t care about.  does that make any sense?

and sad a story as it is, somewhere along the way i’ve even become a label tramp.  and forgive me, i know that’s a bit vulgar, but you know what?  acting that way is vulgar, too. just admitting that is embarrassing because it’s against everything i stand for and believe in, but it’s true.  it’s against who i am. 

all my life i’ve worn things that i liked and thought were fun.  i never cared if something was in fashion or not.  after all, fashion is for now but style is forever, right? and there’s nothing stylish about copying someone else’s look or wearing something just because of the tag sewn inside of it.

growing up there was hardly any focus on designers at all.  unless debbie gibson’s exclamation perfume from rite aid counts… everything we owned came from the local department store or the mall (which wasn’t even full of labels back then).  it wasn’t until i was close to twenty that designers started becoming household names.  but even then anything name brand that i owned, i owned because i liked it.  in all honesty, i’ve always wanted things that were different, if everyone had one that was exactly why i didn’t want one. and i still feel that way, even though i catch myself reacting oppositely.

now, i catch myself bypassing things that normally i would love because they aren’t a name brand.  it’s like i subconsciously don’t think it’s good enough.  girls like me have convinced themselves that we buy those designer bags because they’re better quality and never wear out or those shoes because they’re sooo comfortable.  in the meantime, we’ve never worn a bag out in our lives and the shoes really aren’t any more comfortable than a non-name brand pair that cost a third of the price and in many cases are actually cuter.  but we convince ourselves this is why we do it.  we also tell ourselves {subconsciously, of course} that we could be dressing a lot worse, so it’s not really an issue.  we’re not wearing anything too short, low, tight or otherwise inappropriate.  ladies, we’re lying to ourselves and if we can’t even admit it we’re worse off than we think.  and i’m speaking to more than just myself because i know a lot of women are in the same boat i am.  some may like their boat and that is their choice.  i personally do not.

growing up i was always thin, i never struggled with weight or self esteem issues.  i was always the confident leader type.  if there was a trend that i liked i pulled it off with no effort at all.  and that was all fine and dandy when i was a teenager, and even for the majority of my twenties. the problem with that now, fifteen. years. later. is that i still do that.  i see a look i like and i wear it.  what i forget is that i am a representative of the woman i’ve grown to be.  just because i can pull something off doesn’t mean i should.  just because i still feel like i’m in my twenties doesn’t mean i actually am.   just because something is appropriate, doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for me.  i feel like i’ve become a different person. when i wasn’t even looking i became one of those girls.

and that’s the most frustrating part.  i don’t want to be that girl.  i want to free the girl in my head who is being held hostage by vera wang and louis vuitton.

there is no style, no character or individuality left with the majority of women today.  everyone is so distracted by becoming their neighbor down the street that they don’t take the time to figure out who they are.  they will never know the beautiful and amazing people they are inside because they’re wasting all their time trying to be someone else.  everyone wears the same shoes, carries the same bags.  they even sport the same accessories.  there’s no interest in discovering who they are and what their purpose in life is and i *refuse* to do that.

personal style is like handwriting

to me, a person’s flaws and individuality are what make them special and amazing.  it’s what sets them apart.  i think our differences should be embraced and appreciated.  why does everyone want to be the same all of sudden? and where do i fit in all of that??  it feels like there’s this invisible presence forcing people into this sort of lifestyle. hmm, there’s a thought.  people are struggling financially, yet everyone has the season’s latest overpriced fashions!  they’ll search and search for the cheapest pair of name brand shoes and convince themselves that they like them, just to have a pair.   it’s sick, it really truly is.

i look back and wonder, when did i veer so offtrack??  for the first time in my life i feel like i need to redefine who i am.  i don’t want to be trendy, i don’t want to be hung up on designer labels.  i want to live simply because it feels so much better.   i want to be a good Orthodox mom.  and right now i’m just not.

Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios said, “When you do not have Christ and you lack the criterion of modesty, you will bow down to the latest expression of fashion.”

those words are so true.  as silly as it may sound, i really can feel myself taking a step backward, a step away from Christ with each new overpriced item i buy.  i read so many spiritual books and constantly struggle to continue changing myself for the better but you would never know it by looking at me.

over and over again we read that our outward appearances are a reflection of our inner dispositions.  but some of us dismiss that notion with the argument of “you can’t judge a book by its cover”.  but truth of the matter is, how we dress and carry ourselves really should be reflecting who we are on the inside.

there are just too many other important things in my life that require my attention more than my closet.  so, this is my solution.  we are going to work on this together.  we are going to start changing the things in our lives that are stopping us from becoming the person God wants us to be.   you’ll help me, won’t you? 

i am going to publicly announce right now that i am stopping with the designer labels.  somehow saying it publicly makes me feel more accountable.  so feel free to call me out on instagram or facebook if you see me straying from my goal. maybe we should think of a code word or something so i don’t get mad and order pizzas to your house (seriously, life was so much more fun before caller id)… any ideas? maybe i should give you an inventory list so you know what i already have and don’t mistake it for new?

now, i should probably insert a little disclaimer here because people tend to be oversensitive these days.  please understand what i’m trying to say with all this.  i’m not saying that fashion itself is wrong.  or designer labels for that matter.  i AM saying that i feel like they’re wrong for me and the type of life i want to live. 

i can’t say that i’ll never own another name brand, i do get a lot of perks for this blog and gifts from family, but i personally am going to stop purchasing any designer labels for myself.  i am done focusing on them and giving them a relevancy in my life that they don’t deserve.  i’m also going to cut out the things i know tempt me in that area like reading so many fashion blogs and perusing the “women’s fashion” section of pinterest.  i’m going to put all that time and effort into becoming me again.  wow.  i feel better already.  being me makes me happy. 

now maybe for you it isn’t about name brands.  maybe it’s something else entirely.  but everyone has something about themselves that is stopping them from becoming the person they want to be.  maybe you stress out too much and need to learn to slow down and relearn how to truly enjoy life or maybe you have some trashy reality show addiction, i don’t know,  but for me personally this is something that bothers me about myself.  and i am not the type of person to let someone else determine what defines me.  i’m going to change it.   from this moment on (actually i’ve already started), i am redefining my personal style.  no magazine or pinterest board is going to tell me what i should or shouldn’t be wearing.  and there will be another post on exactly how i’ve been doing that.

the good thing is i already know the girl i really am.  and, oh, how i’ve missed her.  this new chick has got to go.

next on my checklist are social media networks.  check back soon to hear me rant about them.  ;)

Comments

  1. Loved your post. My daughter is in her second year of college and is studying fashion design. We have had several talks about this. People automatically assume that she’s going to do runway fashion when they hear she’s in fashion design. The fact of the matter is that the fashion industry is soooo much larger than just that – someone has to create patterns for us regular folk, someone has to create the designs on fabric, someone has to design the clothes for Target, etc. I’ve told all my kids over and over again that I don’t care what they choose as their profession as long as they do it for the glory of God. My daughter is a gifted seamstress and far surpassed her mama a long time ago. She is entering a world focused on “me” along with the designer aspect of it and I have no doubt she’ll have some rough roads ahead of her. But…right now she has her eyes set on the path she wants to take and I think she’ll get there. She wants to make clothes for children and people with special needs – i.e. the person in the wheelchair who wants to wear a wedding dress, the autistic child who can’t handle anything itchy, the person who is deformed in some way, etc.

    I’ve been pulled into this fashion world a little bit lately because of all the talking we’ve been doing. You should see us go shopping together now! My daughter will only let me buy clothing if it’s made properly – she’ll look at all the seams. Hahahaha

    Everything for the Glory of God!

  2. This is great. Thank you for sharing all this. I don’t tend to struggle with brand names, but I too find myself drawn to looking like everyone else, even when I don’t want to. I will have to think more about what the things that I wear say about who I am.

  3. What a fantastic post. I struggle with this too!! I hate that name brands are everywhere and that people think they’re important because they wear them. You’re right about people not paying their bills but buying things they think will give them status. I’m a psychologist by day and I deal with clients in this position on a daily basis.

    If it helps, I’ve never seen you as “that” type of girl. You always seem to be confident in who you are and I admire both your sense of style and your willingness to stand up for what you believe even if the crowds are against you. It’s why your blog is my absolute favorite. If this is something you’re feeling though, I know you will take control of it and use it to help you become an even more amazing person. Thank you for letting us into your heart and helping us find the courage and strength to better ourselves too.

  4. Katherine says:

    Bravo! This was a much needed post for so many today! I just know God has put you in the position you’re in because you have the ability to help and touch so many lives and help move others in the right direction. God bless you! You are an inspiration.

  5. What store was that lovely green coat from? I just have to have it! ;)

  6. First of all, do you imply that all known labels are not modest?

    Second, you say “how we dress and carry ourselves really should be reflecting who we are on the inside”.
    How we are supposed to know what we are inside. I think only few very holy people could see the depth of their souls being enlightened by God. The rest of us discover it very slowly, if ever.
    Maybe you mean “who our spiritual self would like to be”.

    The rest of us are a sum of controversial powers inside our soul. We want to be “good”, but we also want to be “bad”.

    • Orthodox Mom says:

      Hi Kate, No I am not implying that all labels are immodest. That is why I wrote, “just because something is appropriate, doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for me.” Keep in mind this is my perspective from my personal struggle.

      I did say that how we dress and carry ourselves should reflect who we are on the inside–meaning the type of life we are trying to live and what we know we were created to be. And I believe that.

      Just like musicians dress a certain way, athletes dress a certain way, fashion models dress a certain way. I believe there is a certain way Christians should look and behave as well. That’s not to say there is only ONE way to do that. Everyone must do what they feel is right for themselves. Which is why I also said that this may not be your struggle, but it is one of mine right now.

      The reason for that isn’t that it’s necessarily immodest, but it is wasteful and makes me more susceptible to vanity and pride. I started to notice that when I was around people who truly are humble and modest that those overpriced items made me feel out of place. That was the first sign that something was wrong. It just didn’t feel right to me.

      I definitely agree that one part of us wants to be good and another part wants to be bad. That is honestly the whole foundation of the Christian struggle. Becoming who we were created to be but with a self that is fallen.

      We read over and over about the blessing of living a simple life. I don’t believe that by indulging in designer clothing all the time is the definition of simple. I am more anxious and can feel a major spiritual void in my life when I am concentrating on such frivolities.

      And then there is the question of our responsibility to help those less fortunate. Do my alms equal my purchases? Designer or not…

      Costly clothing is mentioned in Timothy 2: 8-10:

      8 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; 9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.

      There are so many quotes and even books written on the blessings of living a simple and modest life and each of them discuss costly adornments.

      Here are just a few little quotes on this topic:

      “Human beings have accumulated in their coffers gold and silver, clothes more sumptuous than useful, diamonds and other objects that are evidence of war and tyranny; then a foolish arrogance hardens their hearts; for their brothers in distress, no pity. What utter blindness! . . . Attend not to the law of the strong but to the law of the Creator. Help nature to the best of your ability, honor the freedom of creation, protect your species from dishonor, come to its aids in sickness, rescue it from poverty …. Seek to distinguish yourself from others only in your generosity. Be like gods to the poor, imitating God’s mercy. Humanity has nothing so much in common with God as the ability to do good.” -St. Gregory of Nazianzus

      “There is your brother, naked, crying, and you stand there confused over the choice of an attractive floor covering.” – St. Ambrose of Milan

      I hope that clears up what I’m trying to say in this post for you! :)

  7. I have a friend who wears a covering at all times and dresses in long skirts and modest tops. Her hair is long, and she wears it in a braid. She usually has dirt under her fingernails and mud on her boots. She has ten children and works with sheep all day. She is very earthy. One morning during Liturgy at a Hermitage where we both attend the sun came in the window at just the right angle and shined on her…I glanced over and was overcome by her beauty. I will never forget that. I think I saw her through God’s eyes. His eye for fashion is other-worldly. Ever sense I have prayed for the courage to be “that kind of beautiful.” But, I sense that if I was beautiful in that way I would be totally unaware of it…like my friend.

  8. Just the other day his eminence our Bishop in a gathering for young priests and Sunday-school tutors discussed the subject of “evlavia” (reverence/piety). He said it is so important for a priest at all times but especially when practising the Holy Mysteries. Furtheron he extended this to every christian’s life if one is to live his/her life as of ever in the presence of God. In the mystical prayers of Holy Liturgy priests ask for God to strengthen them with His strength so as to “stand in front of” the Holy Mystery with the reverence and piety required thus admitting (through St. John Chrysostom who has written those prayers) how unable they are of achieving this alone. If and when we’ll understand and accept this ourselves, and if and when we start including in our prayers the request for “evlavia” among those for prayerfulness, love, forgiveness, peace and every other virtue we want to ask for, then our style will become one to express both our true self and our love for God. Thank you for this post.

  9. This is awesome! I am also guilty of this, it is wonderful when someone opens your eyes to what you already know but need a reminder about. Thank you! I will try to make changes as well. :)

  10. I struggle with something similar but I have no clear way to figure out what to do about it. I was raised in the South where we were to be “polished” at all times, most especially if we were going outside of the house. At one point, I left that all behind because I felt it frivolous and not glorifying to God in any way. However, I feel I went too far with it. I’m wasn’t glorifying God in that way either for I didn’t look like I was caring for my person even though I was clean and healthy.
    So I began moving back toward the polished look but simply cannot find that balance. My oldest girls are all about fashion (and dad indulges them) and I’m trying to find verses to put up all over the house about vanity versus a heart for God without it seeming like I’m preaching when I haven’t even found that balance for myself yet.
    Another thing I struggle with is how much of what I have/own/do is appropriate and how much of it should actually be going toward the needy. Where is the balance between “providing a life” for your family and helping those that need it? Sometimes the mere act of buying/doing anything that is non-essential makes me anxious. So as you can see, I have some deeper rooted issues than simply figuring out how I should dress/wear my hair.
    Thank you for sharing what you are going through – perhaps God can use you to help me along my path!

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