When I was growing up, we went to church every Sunday and I gladly went because it meant I got to put on my little high heels and feel like a big girl. It was a day of frilly dresses and lace. For Easter Sunday, my mom would take me to pick out the perfect Easter hat to highlight my 9-year old curls. It was the fanciest day of the year and as a young fashionista in the making, I relished Sunday mornings flaunting my pretty dress and heels.
As I got older, those pretty dresses became the subject of ridicule and judgement. How dare a Christian be so flamboyant and care so much about what she wears?
I can vividly remember standing in the foyer one night as I entered youth group when a leader approached me and said, “You are just so bougie.” As we stared into one another’s face in silence, I could feel the disgust utterly steaming from his body. I was left speechless looking at his half-hearted smile and after a moment of silence I just turned and walked away wondering what I did to him. Although I wasn’t exactly sure what the word bougie meant at the time, I was sure it wasn’t a compliment and knew he had disapproved of my attire.
Frustrated and annoyed I walked in to find my seat reflecting about all the things I should have said when, finally, it struck me what he was wearing; ripped jeans and an ugly white t-shirt which seemed to be his normal attire. I couldn’t help but wonder how someone who cared so little about what he was wearing could judge me for my clothing.
What happened? Why was it all of a sudden wrong to dress up and look my best? It made me feel good. Why did it make everyone else feel bad?
As I got older, I began to pursue a childhood dream of working in the fashion industry. A dream that fit my desires and personality to dress up in nice clothing and all things lovely. Along the road it didn’t take me long to realized that it was God who had created me just as I am, placing a uniqueness in me to see the beauty in all things: His creation, His trees, His flowers, His nature. Even the beauty of clothes and they way they are designed or feel to the touch and how they can make a woman feel confident and beautiful.
Clothes no longer became just about what the latest trend was. They became a reflection of who I am; who He created me to be. I am a woman who loves The Lord and others, a mom on the go and an easy spirit who you will find with a cup of coffee in hand every morning. My clothes reflect my ease of life and love of beauty through my favorite jeans or a classic fit dress or pencil skirt on Sunday mornings. Either way, both define my personality and classic style and I it was then I decided that if people wanted to call me bougie or anthing else, well, that would be okay with me.
You see, just as I take care of my physical health because my body is a temple for the Holy Spirit, I also take care of my outer self in the same way. It’s all a reflection of Him from my countenance to my dress. It’s a message of the work and beauty He is doing in me inside and out.
My best bet is to ignore those that don’t get it. It’s not for them that I was created. I don’t live to please them. I no longer get aggravated at those who might judge me for my love of clothes like I used to. As long as I am doing all things as unto The Lord, then why worry? I’m His daughter and He directs me.
Then, the coolest thing happened! By being just me, bougie and all, God began to show me how He could actually use me in the fashion world. Through the years working retail and launching a fashion and faith magazine, I met so many wonderful people who, just like the industry is perceived, were wrapped up in all the materialism of the clothes. But as I looked deeper and made a point to get to know ‘those people,’ I began to see, they are just like you and me. Wrapped in insecurities, looking for value and purpose hiding behind a name brand or trend. The clothes, for some not all, were their choice of fig leaves. A covering for what was behind the face and the soul.
By building relationships, I was able to help women understand their value and identity in Christ. Not by judging or calling them out like I had been when I was a teenager, but by just having a relationship that was authentic and genuine having conversations about fashion that were relevant and was common to both of us. There was an ease in talking with women who identified with all things I loved, too.
You see, the more I grew closer to God, the more I knew who I was. He showed me. And as a result of the inner work, there was an outer result. Not just in my clothes but also in my countenance, the way I spoke, the way I listened to people. The way I loved. Even those in the fashion industry, which, by the way, is super cool to be a part of! God had created me with a bent towards fashion and used that passion to help bring others to know Him. That’s how it works, however you are created God uses that to bring glory to His name.
Inner work always produces outer results in every area of your life simply because you know you are a daughter of the King and there is no higher honor. So whether you like to be a little bougie, classic, bohemian, retro, trendy or a little grunge, let your outer countenance and appearance reflect all that God is doing on the inside of you. You never know who might identify with you and your fashion personality.
How can you represent your self as a daughter of the king with your wardrobe choices? God values you and calls you His own. Remember to reflect His glory through everything you do.