Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mere Decorativanity

In homeschooling circles these days, there seems to be an inordinate amount of costume making going on. One glance at a few young ladies blogs (who shall remain nameless, you can make your own lists) and you will read of making a new costume either for fun or for an event. Now, don't get me wrong, I like costumes and sewing; one of the few websites I visit regularly is The Costumer's Guide to Movie Costumes. I have made two or three reproductions—all of them to be used daily or for a special event. So, I know how fun costuming can be. However, all things can cross the line. Many times as I read these young ladies' blogs, that's all there is: costume making. (Oh, and a strange obsession with food too…but I digress.) And make-up…that's another puzzler. It just seems weird to me that people that laud the Victorian age would wear make-up…something that was taboo back then. Take the Botkin girls, for example. I've often wondered how long they spend every day on those hairstyles and their perfect make-up. Maybe you've never noticed, but I can tell you that their hairstyles look easy but are not simple at all. It can take hours to make your hair look so perfectly lovely with every strand in place or a little tousled in a perfect way—they must spend lots of time on it. Also, they obviously wear layers of make-up. They look like the sort of girls you could tease by saying, "We're out of foundation and eye shadow" and could really freak out about it. :-) I have not been able to find a picture of the Botkin girls in a non-made up state. Do you think they ever get really dirty or exerted? I mean, like have they ever gone kayaking, hiking, trail riding, and swimming all in one day? (I have, in that order; it was exhausting, messy, and totally fun. :-)) There’s nothing wrong with make-up (I wear it myself sometimes :-)) or styled hair but I really don’t think it should be so important to us. Also, I am growing tired of hearing about dressing feminine because ladies should be feminine. They should be yes, but I am sooo sick of hearing about it! There's nothing wrong with being a girly girl and there's nothing wrong with being a tomboy—I'm an even mix—but, there is something wrong with focusing so much on outward appearances. It doesn't seem that many young ladies are actually focusing on running a household, it seems to me that they are simply studying the art of looking perfect all the time. It makes you wonder…are they being trained to be just delicate ornaments hanging on their husband's arm? (Many people would say yes, and I agree but I like to ask rhetorical questions.) Why is being decorative so important to these young ladies? Why are some of them so wimpy? (You read things like: "I am terrified of bugs" "I hate math" "I don’t like the outdoors"… it would be funny if it was only occasional but it's to the point of being unnatural now.) It always reminds me of this quote, "If you feel your value lies in being merely decorative, I fear that someday you might find yourself believing that's all you really are. Time erodes all such beauty, but what it cannot diminish is the wonderful workings of your mind. Your humor, your kindness, and your moral courage; these are the things I cherish so in you." ― Marmee, Little Women, 1994. They, meaning the Botkin girls and other patriarchy influenced girls, quote the verse, "Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30. But they don't mean it. There's nothing wrong with being beautiful and trying to look your best but if that's all you talk about and present to others; it really is all that you care about and all that anyone will take away from knowing of you.



Jenny said...

Thank you for posting this. You've hit the nail on the head, so to speak. Once popular femininity becomes more than just wearing impractical dresses, it will actually begin to mean something.

Deb said...


I'm also an even mix between tomboy and girly-girl. Have been all my life :)

I think you're right that alot of these girls are growing up to be little more than ornaments on their husband's arm. I wonder how many of them truly understand just what all IS entailed in marriage and keeping a house. And having the ability to handle whatever comes their way.
Like mucking out stables and cow sheds :)

e. said...

My personal theory about the costume fixation is that it stems from being deprived of dressing up at Halloween (since I understand that this holiday is frowned upon in conservative circles). All of that frustrated dress-up energy has to go somewhere, right?

Like I said, it's just a possible explanation. For all I know, there are perhaps plenty of fundamentalist Christians who never celebrated Halloween and *still* do not feel the need to pretend to be Jane Austen/Anne Boleyn(!)/Laura Ingalls any given day of the week.

I like your blog, Ingrid. It is fun. Keep at it!