In writing this, I do not want to come off like a prude. Certainly, I would never describe myself in that way but given how people dress, adorn themselves, and talk these days, I am, without a doubt, no longer hip. Of course, that would assume that I once was, but given the emerging sense of style, I would say that I am officially out of it, clueless really. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.
So given that fashion and language are an expression of “who we are, there is always a new trend to follow. But does expressing ourselves in these ways really make us unique?
What does make us unique? Certainly, we all want to be individuals, we are, after all, each different. The world would be a very dull and ordinary place if we were all the same. But is how we dress, what we do to our bodies, and how we talk, really make us who we are? Is this what makes us unique? A simple cliche comes to mind: “you are what you eat. Does that mean I am piece of broccoli if that’s what I eat or does it mean I merely like broccoli. The same is true for the cliche “you are what you wear. How I talk, dress, or decorate my body does not make me unique, just as eating broccoli doesn’t make me a piece of broccoli.
In reality, our efforts to express ourselves, to be an individual are shaped more by others than we want to think. While how we talk and what we wear may in fact express something about ourselves, more often than not, it is largely influenced by what others are doing, not me being “unique. A 10 year old girl with her belly pierced, a tight midriff shirt, and shorts that say “PINK on the bottom is not expressing her individuality. In fact, she is conforming to what others around her are doing. In the end, the things we wear, how we talk, and now, how we decorate our bodies, things intended to make ourselves “different, really end up making us less unique and more like what everyone else appears to be doing. As conformity reigns, we trend towards being less and less unique and so in an effort to be different, to be known, the more audacious and vulgar of this generation becomes the norm of the next.
Our sense of what is acceptable or vulgar changes over time. It also varies from culture to culture. This is certainly true in the language we use and what is considered profane. Things that are offensive now become less and less offensive over time. Think of the language that is now permitted on television. A few years ago, most cuss words were edited over. Now, words that used to be considered profane are allowed. The reason is simple, they are no longer considered culturally offensive. The standard has changed. Society has changed.
Our individuality will never be found in outward appearances. What makes us unique is the fact that we were each individually created by God, in His image. God is infinitely unique and as such, He is the ultimate trend setter. We are commanded to “be transformed into His image not the image of current societal trends.
Trends will continue to change and there will always be people with opinions. So, encourage your children to be truly unique, not because of what they wear but because of who they are and what they do. Teach them to treat others with love and respect no matter what their appearance. Talk to your kids about their choices they are making and the reasons behind them. Show them true character through your actions. Parenting is all about setting boundaries and teaching your children to respect them. Those boundaries must be based on Biblical principles which will never change.
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