What Is The Nature Of Your Wardrobe, Cruel Or Kind?
What you wear each day has impact on people and planet
There is an ongoing thread of fuss woven through society concerning those scriptures in Holy Writ which detail what should be worn, or not. There are verses prohibiting mixing of linen and wool, for example, and much that has been interpreted as forbidding cross-dressing, or revealing clothes, especially for women. Women are forbidden by some interpretation to show, or braid, their hair, and advised to use no costly adornments. Presumably this would rule out fashionable or designer labels. It would certainly pertain to heavy gold, silver, ivory and gemstones in chains or earrings that display that a person cares much more about status then he or she cares about compassion.
Modern fashion is plagued with more problems than these. Obviously, hate crime is on-going, especially toward women whether it for wearing too much — head scarf, hijab, abaya — or too little: — thongs, bikini, short skirts, bare arms, etc. Homosexuals and Trans people are taunted for cross-dressing, appearing too feminine, or too ‘butch’ or for appearing immodest, flashy, or even just fashionable.
Animals, and even plant-based textiles are being used as never before. Few of us are connected to the source of our clothing. We won’t, or don’t, want to think of whether it is sewn in a sweat-shop, plucked from a suffering bird, shorn from a goat or sheep that is slit or dismembered while still conscious, or boiled alive like the 2,500 silkworms required to make one pound of silk.
Gangsta fashion seems to favor heavy gold, and the most modest evangelical and obedient wife may still wear a jewel encrusted, gold cross. There are even movements for ostentatious shows of expensive wardrobes, as seen in the modern prosperity gospels. This is nothing new, historically, given the divine rights of kings, priests, lords and ladies, only peasants were punished for immodesty in dress.
Today we may see hypocrisy in world leaders wearing authoritarian or militaristic uniforms, FLOTUS wearing a tone deaf “I really don’t care” coat or “high water” heels. We may wince at Scott Pruitt spending our taxes on “tactical” expensive clothing. And, there is nowhere to really begin concerning how Donald Trump presents his big power suits, over-poofed and over-worked, and immodest hair, and his alpha male neckties.
What does any of this have to do with compassion and generosity? It is simply that people will detect instantly whether another person wants to present themselves to convey a sense of entitlement, or to convey a sense of creativity. We may think of true fashion as a flair, for refreshing presentation of resourcefulness, color, cleanliness and taste.
There is plenty also in Holy scripture that outlines how important ceremonial garb is for priests, and as we see with the hierarchy of Catholicism, Protestants, Islam and Jewish dress, there are plenty of rules, and few explanations, for both leaders and followers.
But the bible, and other scripture, be it monotheistic or not, does describe repeatedly, however, that the important point is not the rule of the law, but the spirit of love, mercy and compassion. The Holy Bible for example cuts a whole new swath of cloth. “Thou should love the lord” with all your heart and soul, strength and mind. And then, “love thy neighbor as you love yourself.” If we act superior to any neighbor, or insecure about ourselves, in what way does that follow the unmistakable counsel to care for all others, including self and planet?
If this were the only verse about our care and what scripture calls “regard” and “attention” to all beasts from birds to Oxen, we might dismiss it. But caring for all we share is emphasized repeatedly, in most codes of conduct. Caring for the poor, hungry, needy or alienated clearly outlines the number one commandment Jesus provides. In no small measure, every other sacred scripture calls for love, mercy, nurturing and care, as well.
Today people are criticized for wearing many things: Hoodies, tight clothes, too slobby, too snobby, too little or too much. But, we need to stop judging others, and make choices according to what makes us love ourselves and our neighbors. That said, our neighborhood is this one and only planet, and needless suffering of sweat-shop workers, animals, or even forests is not wise.
Just as we are who we eat, we are certainly who we wear, too. It goes much deeper than this in the present Anthropocene, however because what we eat becomes what we wear, and what we exterminate becomes farm land to feed those among us who feel more entitled to eat, have clothes, and shelter. We can’t even enjoy Nutella (or anything) anymore with worrying about the deforestation of orangutan habitat. Today more than ever, you should give food, and fashion, your thought. Consider the birds and the lilies of the field, they are reminders of the love we all need if we are to share and preserve an abundant world.