Like most girls, I grew up with the dream of being a beautiful princess. Except, my image of femininity was less Sleeping Beauty or Snow White, more Queen Lucy of Narnia, Anne of Green Gables, and Josephine March. They were strong women who were far from being just ornamental: they had a passion, a calling—and they were fulfilling it. Their attire, their demeanor, their femininity was a reflection of who they were. And so was mine—I was Daddy’s little girl, with two long red braids, wearing gloves and his too-big hats to help him cut firewood; Mommy’s helper, doing dishes in my own apron, and pretty dresses on Sundays—until I began to respond to the pressure of my peers.
It was a different kind of peer pressure than we were reading about in the homeschool magazines: but it came right off those pages. One day I got a girls’ publication and read one person’s definition of modesty. I jumped on the bandwagon and wore nothing but skirts and dresses, except for rare occasions like when I was once again Daddy’s girl hunting by his side.
Yes, I got comments. Yes, I stood out in the crowd. But not always in a good way. I had forgotten that frumpiness is not equal to godliness. I had forgotten that pride in my modest attire would stand in the way of relationships with others who didn’t dress like I did. I was “dressing” for the wrong reasons.
It took a close-up view of the battles in another family’s home over the “skirt issue” for me to see how easily it could become more about rules (and pride) than about modesty and femininity. And it took many months and years for me to learn to be who God made me to be, rather than who some others thought I should be.
Femininity is not something you can put on, but rather a reflection of an inner beauty. And that beauty, that femininity is something that nothing can take away—not the mud and sweat of honest labor, nor the bloody scars of being stripped and beaten for the cause of Christ. Nothing can take away the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4). That “set-apart femininity” is what I strive for.
originally published in an interview for Feelin’ Feminine