How we dress says a lot about us. As much as we may want to insist that we shouldn’t judge a book by its’ cover, the truth is people do. A Harvard study revealed that it typically takes eight subsequent positive encounters to change a negative opinion of you.
But how we dress isn’t just about making a good impression to those we want to like us. It’s an expression of how we feel about ourselves.
When I was in middle school, I didn’t feel pretty or confident at all. Getting attention from boys made me feel good, so I paid attention to what they liked. Having a nice butt and boobs were important to them, so I started wearing clothes that emphasized those things. Well, I didn’t have boobs at the time, but I started wearing a padded bra and tight shirts. Christina Aguilera’s music video, “Come On Over” made pleather (plastic leather) pants popular, so I wanted one in every color. My mama wouldn’t buy them for me, so I convinced my grandma to take me shopping. For some reason shiny, tight, leopard pants didn’t raise a blip on her radar and she bought them for me.
I definitely couldn’t walk out of the house wearing these pants, so I would roll them up in a ball and hide them in my book bag. I’d scurry to the bathroom and change into my pop star outfit and walk out like I was the hottest thing since sliced bread.
In addition to the shiny, leopard pants and short polka dot skirts, I also layered on an absurd amount of makeup. I’ve told you I had really bad acne, so I couldn’t just cover it up with concealer; I had to go all out.
You’re going to think I was raised by pop stars because I was inspired by the Britney Spears’s makeup in the music video “Oops I Did It Again.” To my delight, Cosmo magazine revealed the makeup products she used…or at least that’s what I believed then. I found all the products at CVS: a foundation stick, cream bronzer, cream blush and a ton of black eye liner.
I wanted to look really tan so I wore my foundation a few shades darker and wore frosty lipstick from Bath and Body Works. Truly, any evidence of this time in my life was burned or just never documented because my poor mother was so distressed by how I insisted upon carrying myself.
By general perception, I dressed “skanky, slutty” or like a girl who was “easy.” Although I looked this way, I didn’t act it. I knew how to flirt with a boy, but I never went any farther than kissing.
In full disclosure, I enjoyed hearing the comments boys made about how I looked. It felt good to get attention and admiration.
But this strategy of getting confidence only lasted a semester because one day changed everything.
I was on the black top for recess and this boy who was friends with a boy I liked was teasing me. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but he looped his sweatshirt in between my legs and pulled it up hard. I remember feeling so violated and dirty. Comparatively, it wasn’t even that big of a deal. But it shook, rattled and shifted something in me.
From that day forward, I stopped wearing makeup and tight, shiny pants. I made a decision that I needed to dress and carry myself in a way that conveyed I valued myself.
When we dress like we don’t have self-respect, it’s hard to expect others to treat us respectfully. I realized I had made myself more of a target to be disliked among girls by dressing like that.
My value system changed. I started going to Young Life meetings and getting more involved in youth group. I wore overalls.
The summer before high school, I literally went back-to-school shopping at Ann Taylor Loft. I had abandoned the desire for boys to like and notice me. My priority had shifted to my teachers liking and respecting me. My mama was totally down to help me shop for coral capris and sweater sets!
After I won Miss USA, the people I wanted to please changed to those I worked with. At the end of my reign, we did one last official shoot. There was one person who never liked me the whole year. She was on set that day and I thought, “Now is my chance to impress her.” The wardrobe was lingerie and I posed without question.
There was a point when we were shooting that she told me to take my bra off. I was being encouraged. I took it off. They only shot implied topless photos, but now they are in the world forever and I can’t take them back.
This is an example of how we can’t serve God and people. Romans 8:8
A few years ago, I had a liberal perspective on how to dress appropriately as a Christian woman. But the closer I get to God, the more convicted I am about how I dress.
Don’t change the way you are dressing because I said so or to add another rule to a religious checklist. Just draw closer to God. The more you experience His pure love for you, the more you will want everything in your life to honor Him.
Honor and dignity. I don’t dress for other people now, I dress to honor myself and God.
When you are getting dressed, ask yourself, “Does this honor myself and God?” Proverbs 31:25 says, “She is clothed with strength and dignity.” She is YOU. You are entitled and privileged to dress in such a way that conveys the strength and dignified worth of the King’s daughter.
Don’t worry about the boys and girls who may possibly ditch you because you aren’t dressing for them anymore. When you delight yourself in the Lord, he will make His face shine upon you.
Own your style and what makes you feel lovely. We all have an unique essence. Mine happens to be a princess, so I wear a lot of long flowy dresses.
What is your essence? What makes you feel like you are tapping into the truth of who God made you to be? Whatever it is, wear it in honor and dignity.
Dressing in Dignity = The Sparkle Effect
I want to represent you. I want to dress like royalty no matter where I am, no matter what people think. You say that you clothe me in robes of righteousness and I want people to be able to see the beauty and grace of my spiritual clothing just by looking at me.
Will you give me the strength not to conform to the patterns of this world? You call me to be in the world, but not of it. Help me to only want to please you. Give me the courage not to make apologies for the godly changes I make in my life, even when they make others feel uncomfortable.
Thank you for clothing me and crowning me with tender loving mercies and calling me your beloved.
Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 1 Timothy 2:9-10
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28
I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10
She is clothed in strength and dignity. Proverbs 31:25.