Today’s fashion kills me.

Low cut jeans are no one’s friend. Low cut jeans, hip-hugging pants, mid-riff revealing shirts – not many of us have builds worth showing so much of. Recently, a friend of mine spent her Sunday morning at church struggling to keep from mooning everyone. I kid you not: every movement led to her flashing us boobs or butt crack. As long as she did nothing but pose (or, as she eventually did, if she just laid still on the floor), everything was good. I pointed out that maybe once she went through puberty, she might have something to hold her ensemble up. But, hey, no one said that trendy was practical – only good to look at.

This may seem like a one-sided bashing of one gender, but the images and expectations that our culture defines as masculine and feminine ideals are different. Women are to be “Barbies” and men are to be “Kens,” the chief difference being that women have (moreso) bought into that image wholesale, while guys are still capable of staring in the mirror at their gelatinous, beer-fed frames and say “Yeah, I’m hot. I need a Barbie.”

Clothes tell stories of who we are.

At my family reunion, one of my cousins decided that she’d rather spend the reunion hanging out with me. Now, there were over 100 cousins there to choose from, many of us meeting each other for the first time. She said she made her judgment based on my clothes. After wading through a sea of t-shirts with images ranging from “Free Mike Tyson” to Big Dawg to marijuana leaves, she said she liked the fact that I wore Malcolm X quotes, slavery remembrances, and odes to our African roots. Because clothes make a statement about you.

Personally, I don’t believe in wearing clothes that have ads on them. If I’m going to be a billboard for you, you have to pay me. It’s harder to do in these the-label-is-everything-days, but if I have a choice, I’m going to go without someone else’s name plastered across my chest. Now, I’m not going to front: I’m a bit of a clothes horse. For those who give me grief about how I dress on Sundays (watch closely as I rationalize my brand of sartorial splendor), I worship differently when I’m all dressed up. Not to say that I can’t have a heart to worship without a suit or that “Sunday best” is required for church, but my heart is more bent toward reverence. For me, Sunday is a moment of occasion (an appointment with God), and I dress for the occasion.

Back to today’s fashions, “Don’t objectify me!” has come to mean: “I only want the attention of cute guys I might be interested in dating. Other than that, my boobs on display and my jeans so form-fitting I might as well have spray-painted them on are my forms of expression. You should direct your attentions to my intellect. Now treat me seriously.”

We’ve lost the sensual mystery of less is more. We’ve lost any sense of modesty that we can be beautiful and be more than sex objects. We’ve lost the notion that modesty protects and inspires allure. The power that the 1940s movie starlets had on folks. Where a simple look was captivating. Again, I’m not going to lie: you bare a midriff, I’m going to stare at your midriff (while, uh, contemplating your inner beauty). However, those baiting their hooks by having all of their assets on display shouldn’t complain about the quality of people (or whatever else) that they catch.

Sure I think there is a propriety to dress, especially since how we dress affects how we carry ourselves and what our priorities are. I even like the idea of dress codes and school uniforms. Professional dress makes you act professionally, interact as professionals. How we dress often reveals how we see ourselves and shapes our identity. We often reinvent ourselves through wardrobe changes. What not to Wear. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. A host of other programs my wife makes me watch. They all tell the same tale: people recreating themselves through their wardrobe choices.

Clothes tell stories of who we are.

The question is “who are you?”

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