Tuesday, April 05, 2011

On Looking Good

When I was in high school, I wanted some tattoos and a nose ring. My dad said no, you'll give people the wrong impression. I said "What impression is that?" He said they'd assume I was on drugs. I said that was their problem, not mine. I sang the teenage party line that appearance shouldn't matter. He asked if I really meant this. I said yes. He said if appearance doesn't matter, then starting tomorrow he would wear biker shorts with a flannel shirt tucked in, and I could do whatever I wanted with myself. I thought it best to not call his bluff. He had a little bit of crazy in his eyes; you don't play chicken with someone like that.
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I saw an episode of What Not to Wear a few weeks ago where the girl sang the same tune. She was a recent graduate with a doctorate in Sociology, and she insisted that image is nothing. Stacey said something to the effect of "You're trying to communicate that you don't care about materialism, but what people are actually seeing is that you're sloppy." (I could picture my mom telling me that I looked like I didn't care enough about the people I was going to see to bother putting myself together. She burned my favorite pair of pants. Burned them.) The girl saw the futility of trying to claim that appearance is nothing. She ate her words just like I did.
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I don't know why we're so insistent of this notion. It's youth, I suppose; you think you've discovered something that no one else has thought of. Gonna shake up the establishment, teach them a thing or two: what people think about you doesn't matter. I've been noticing recently how much Christian teenagers apply this line of thinking to religion, treating the appearance of evil as insignificant. They make comments that would cause people to assume that they mess around with people of the opposite or the same sex; they pursue godliness but don't want people to know it. They shrug off the dissonance by claiming it's not their problem how they're perceived, it's what's on the inside that counts.
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The outside matters. Case in point: my dad once once gave a guy a discount on his car repair because he looked a little punk. I was away from home and he missed me.

12 comments:

erin said...

dang... GOOD ONE!

erin said...

in the interest of full disclosure:

i was that teen.

(sometimes i think i still am.)

Anonymous said...

I believe that I told you I'd wear spandex biker shorts, a muscle shirt, and cowboy boots! I'm so glad that you pulled over on that chicken game because I surely would have come to visit you dressed like that and I wouldn't have looked good! Jenny...you're so goofy, and I love you like crazy!
Dad

Believe and See said...

Jenny,

Dad and I loved this! I'm so glad that "crazy" runs in the jeans :) And cousin Mark, you rock the tux! :)

~Rachel

missy said...

i never knew your mom burned your pants! is that why you gave the others to me, before she could get to them? ;) haha. which pair were they?

The Goodfellas said...

they were this perfect pair of jeans, but then i was working one summer and while mopping the floor, bleach sloshed all over the bottoms and kind of oozed its way up, and they ended up with these strange sort of flame-orange marks all over them (from the cuff to almost the knee.) i thought they were pretty sweet. haha :)

The Goodfellas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Goodfellas said...

e: me too. how embarrassing.
r: i agree, that is one smashing tux. :)
papi: i think the actual threat was that you'd pick me up from school dressed like that - i was still living at home. i assume it didn't hold for once i moved out, 'cause i've had my nosed pierced twice since then. chuzo, maybe i shouldn't point it out...!!
(tambien te amo, que buen padre que eres.)
y mami! <3 hubieses quemado mas de mi ropa. jajaja

Jeremy said...

"Childhood" is that time before you hit your teens where you learn all of your things that you need to be sociable.

"Teenage" is when you hit that stage where everything you learn as a child is thrown out the window because you're too cool to care about being a child anymore.

"Adulthood" is the synthesis between the two states, where you take everything you learned as a child and everything you tried to forget as a teen and try to make yourself better from the two.

rolli grove said...

It's true! but I still don't want it to be...luckily my feelings displayed as clothes mostly comes across as "fluffy" and/or "Working from home mom in running clothes...even not when running" lately. You could insert "pajamas" and "all day" for that second one too...heh.

The Goodfellas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Goodfellas said...

The clothes thing was only to illustrate the point of the appearance of evil mattering. Maybe I was too tongue-in-cheek in ending it, but I wanted to make it clear that my dad's point never was that certain looks are "wrong." He was only arguing that I shouldn't claim that image doesn't matter when I clearly cared about it; he was calling me out.

I don't think morality comes into play with clothes decisions (I mean, except when it does. Haha. Modesty, things like that, but even that is crazily subjective.) Fashion, style, that's something else entirely. I only think it's foolish to claim that appearance (the way you come off) doesn't matter when it has to do with your representation of Christ.

The same logic that kids apply to dressing themselves is foolishly applied to religion; I think they have no idea what a misstep it is. If they know that Thess. verse, they treat it as if it's just thrown in there, void of meaning. They think they're smarter than God. We all think that sometimes. It's something to be obeyed whether you understand the rationale or not; and yet, it's amazing to me to see how many kids don't get the reason for the command. It's love, it's the Great Commission, it's integrity.