Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What Is That?

The jeans were so tight.

I wouldn't have been able to walk in them. The pants weren't exactly a second skin, but they looked pretty uncomfortable. They required mincing steps that were almost feminine.

Yeah, I'm talking about the jeans on a man.

It was Sunday morning. The young man wrapped snuggly in denim was walking down the center aisle at my church. To complement his skinny jeans, he'd selected some of those bulky tennis shoes kids favor these days, along with a snug and short jacket. No boxers were actually showing, but it wouldn't take much for them to be exposed. Not much at all.

My first thought was "What the hell is that?"

Next thought was "Is that what's passing for church attire these days?"

Finally I realized, "Why do I even care?"

I'm glad I got to that final thought. I'm not going to say I still didn't think the young man's clothes were a tad improper, I did. Later on in service I gave a side-eye to a young lady rocking a sundress that showed a lot of thigh and cleavage. But, I didn't dwell on those things like I might have in the past. I didn't silently condemn them for their dress. I noted that they had made choices I didn't agree with, but I then forced myself to acknowledge that I don't have to agree with the choices of other people.

Man, that's progress for me.

I think I've mentioned before that I have this urge to impose my view of the world on other people. It's not so much that I have to control their actions, but I feel like even if I can't make them do what I want, I can make them acknowledge that I'm right.

Marriage has shown me the depths of my stupidity.

Now that I am trying to eradicate my idiotic tendencies when it comes to my wife, I've also been attempting to do the same for other folks. I'm trying to walk that tightrope between staying true to my own beliefs, while not using my beliefs to condemn others. It's a very difficult task.

Which brings me back to the clothes. The Lord knows I've worn some pretty shady clothes to church as a youngster, and you would think that would make me more accepting of the stylings of today's youth. But, often I'm not. It seems that I view the young me as this bumbling idiot who should be pitied and avoided, not held up as a some sort of guiding standard. I know this is wrong, yet it's still a challenge to resist this impulse.

I still ask "What is that?"



Darth Whitey said...

Yikes! Just because you're trying not to judge doesn't mean you have to approve of what others are doing.

I think the kid with the jeans was being disrespectful of the church and should have gotten a talking to about his attire.

The woman, wellllllll, sounds just fine to me! hah! /sexist

Big Man said...

We're having discussions about proper attire at my church, and we've been encouraged to expand our thinking.

Tit for Tat said...

Later on in service I gave a side-eye to a young lady rocking a sundress that showed a lot of thigh and cleavage. (Big Man)

LOL, I'm sure you did. ;)

T.A.N. Man said...

I think the eternal analysis you're undergoing when critiquing others is good. As opposed to being motivated by the selfish desire to show someone you are right and they are wrong (rarely an absolute truth), it's good to be motivated by a desire to improve another personal development. But you can only get to that point by analyzing/secong-guessing your motives and the proper approach to the issue given the intend audience and desired effect.

On the tight pants thing--that's what the kids are doing these days, you're just against tight pants on men, generally. It has nothing to do with the setting. I remember a young Tab Virgil walking the aisle in an oversized jungle camo suit, with complimentary piece and chain back in our college years. I think we were more shocked to see him than to see his attire.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

"Marriage has shown me the depths of my stupidity."


Big Man said...

True that on Young Turk. We might not have worn what he wore to church, but we weren't scandalized that he had it on. Good point.
I agree that it's a personal bias against tight pants in general that colors my thoughts on them in church.


I'm glad that amused you.

MODI said...

BM, I think that you know that in my day job I work with staff who provide youth employment training. Since it is basically my job to get youth to buy into employment dress culture, I have a lot of opinions on this.

Generally those agencies that are successful at getting youth to "buy-in" to employment culture do so because the process is judgment-free. The assumption is that youth culture is to be fully respected and there is nothing inherently "superior" about attire in work culture. I mean, when you get right down to it, something like a "tie" is a ridiculous piece of cloth that serves absolutely no useful function. It exists only because enough white men thought it fashionable enough once upon a time to create an entire work culture crossing multiple continents. I suspect if those same men favored really tight jeans instead of dress slacks, and today's youth wore purposeless pieces of cloth around their necks, then ties themselves would be derided today as youth fashion nonsense.

Once teens no longer feel that their norms/values are not being disrespected, then the "code-switching" process becomes 100 times easier. The tie is put on solely to help one's career, and after 5pm -- "do as you please". Tight pants, baggy pants, whatever

So I think this similar "when in Rome" discussion also applies to church. Now I'm guessing that the kid with the tight pants wouldn't wear those pants on the basketball court (assuming he likes bball), so I assume that he already knows about "time and place". I think that there is still a way to promote an appropriate change in attire while staying completely judgment free.

I guess I'm saying that there is nothing wrong with pulling the young man or scantily dressed woman aside (probably better left to another woman), if it is based on the right reasons. I know that I am certainly thankful years later that adults pulled me aside when I was young. Hell, I didn't even know how to tie a tie until i was 24!

It's all in the delivery.

As far as our personal biases go, I don't think that we have really have to 'resist the impulse', but just not impose them. I mean, I find lip rings to be absolutely hideous (particularly the horseshoe variety!) and 10 years of soul-searching, meditation, and yoga will not change that. The challenge, as you said, is not imposing that belief system. (unless motivated for purely practical reasons)

BTW, sorry if my last couple of posts come too didactic, it is just that your last couple of articles are hitting home to the instructor in me.

Raving Black Lunatic