Friday, April 23, 2010

Pushing the Envelope Around The World

I recently returned from a trip to Israel and Jordan. Of course I noticed clothing. I realized that no matter where you are young women who are expected to dress to a specific code will push the envelope.

Here in the US we have many women who follow a dress code. In some areas of country you can almost pick out specific denominations (yes, I know some would object to that term) based on their "uniform." The ankle length denim skirt, three-quarter sleeve, and long hair will shout out their church affiliation. I found one church's "don't" list:

  • no jewelry
  • no nail polish
  • no cutting hair
  • no piercings (ears too)
  • no tattoos
  • no beards on guys
  • no shorts on guys
  • no pants on girls
  • no short sleeves on girls
  • no short skirts

Yet, teenagers will find a way to rebel. There are the denim skirts slit up to above the knee, fishnet stockings, and boots. One young woman wore her hair long, but teased up to a height where I feared it would be caught in ceiling fans.

Young Christian women are not alone in being within the letter of the law, but not the spirit. In Jordan I saw Islamic teens wearing the hijab, a long sleeved top, but jeans so tight I worried for the circulation in their legs.

In Tiberius, Israel, the Orthodox Jewish teens also liked to skirt (insert eye roll here) tzniut (modesty). While they wore sleeves which reached the wrists and long skirts, the t-shirts were very form fitting.

So, while parents wail and gnash their teeth over the Abercrombie & Fitch ads teens all over are finding ways to buck the rules intended to encourage modesty. Why? Because that's what teens do. They are simply being teens, finding their own identity by pushing against adult expectations.

Parents, take a deep breath and relax. Remember to pick your battles wisely. When my youngest son decided that he only wore black I didn't fight it. I simply said, 'No skulls.' I gave him room to be himself. I do have to admit the bunny skulls on his girlfriend's hoodie are very cute.

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