Be pro-fashion, not the fun police
Why do people get meaner the better they dress?
Writer’s note: This post was originally published on Medium’s “We Need to Talk” on March 26, 2022.
I’m not a churchgoer. It’s just not my thing. But I damn sure liked hanging out with my maternal grandmother whenever I could (even if she was just sitting on the front porch). I enjoyed teaming up with my mother to find the perfect dress, shoes and seeing her braid creations. I’d march to the church lobbies, wait for my grandmother’s reaction to my outfits and lean forward so she could put a pin on my fabric.
To put it bluntly, you were not fuggin’ with my outfits when I was headed to church. I was raised by a woman who has at least 15 foldable closets and hogged my father’s poor side of the bedroom closet, too. If you think I didn’t have an outfit for every church occasion, think again.
But there was a moment in church that soured me on the whole idea of going. My paternal grandmother decided to accompany me and my mother to my maternal grandmother’s church. All of us were looking pretty cute, and we got ready to step inside when one of the ushers asked my paternal grandmother to step outside. Shortly after, my mother and my paternal grandmother turned and headed back to the car, with my maternal grandmother looking on with empathy.
What happened? My paternal grandmother wore pants to church, and that Baptist church did not believe in women wearing pants. I had so many questions. It never occurred to me that me and my mother were allowed to only wear dresses to church. I thought we were doing it to be fashionable, not as a rigid rule. I was perplexed when my paternal grandmother was willing to go all the way home, change clothes and then return to the church. (At her own church, women wore pants all the time.)
If it were up to me, that’d been my last time stepping foot into that place. I never forgot that moment. It was one of many reasons I have both fond and not-so-fond of my time there. Dressing up for church instantly became less fun when I realized the guidelines were so inflexible that I could be sent home. After my maternal grandmother passed away, we never went back to her church again. That was just fine with me!