Tuesday, October 21, 2014

3 Things Your Appearance Reveals

There have been several occasions when I've surprised people by telling them that I'm a stay-at-home mom. Each time, I've gotten the same response, "We just assumed by your clothes that you came from work."  That's probably a compliment for me and a sad commentary about how most stay-at-home moms treat themselves. Just because we "only" stay home and raise our children doesn't mean we have to look like slobs who never shower. (Don't get me started on either the "only raising children" or the women who stay home to sit on the couch and not raise their kids.)

Seth Godin had a blog post last week entitled "Put a frame around it." You should go read it. No, really, it's super short. Go on. 

I think we can all agree that he was not talking about putting a frame around yourself. But that's immediately where my mind went; we present ourselves to the world everyday.  It matters how we do it.  We can argue that it's sexist that we're judged based on our appearance. We can argue that the heart is really what matters. But how we present ourselves matters and we can't ignore that without consequences. Our appearance says several things to the world. 

1. Our appearance shows our opinions about ourselves. It also affects how we view ourselves.  It shows if we value our work and our roles in life. Do you see yourself as a competent person with something to offer? That will show in your appearance. Do you see yourself as a sex object? That will show up too. Our appearance reveals our hearts. 

2. Our appearance shows respect (or disrespect) for others. The first Forbes link in this post mentioned this concept. A man stated that he must value the friendship more because he dressed up for lunch. Do we find others worth fixing up for? Do you fix up even when it's "only" your family who will see you? 

3. Our appearance is an advertisement for who we are.  More than just what we think we are, we show who we are.  Anne Lamont stated that"everyone is walking around as an advertisement for who he or she is."   This is sometimes called visual branding in the corporate world. Appear to be what you would like to be, not necessarily what you currently are. 

Now of course I'm not a lawyer or an IT technician. I'm not planning on applying for a job in the next month (or year!) but the above statements are still true. So how does this apply to everyday life? First you must know what you are trying to represent. Until you answer that question you can't decide how to best present yourself.  But there are some basic guidelines on how to present yourself. These hold true regardless of your position, your job, or your gender. 

Be appropriate for the occasion. I don't wear the same thing on a date with my husband as I do for a day at home cleaning bathrooms, cooking, and playing kickball in the yard. However I can look nice for both. You may not wear the same thing to the office that you wear when you eat lunch with friends. But you don't have to look like a slob for either one. 

Be appropriate for your faith. I'll just go ahead and say the word. Dress modestly. I don't care if you're a man or a woman- and I'm not going to outline what modest is- but dress in a way that brings glory to God. Isn't that the point of life? 

Be balanced. Don't take your appearance to an extreme where it's all you care about or where you don't care about it at all. You don't have to look like a Miss America contestant but don't look like you just rolled out of bed either. 

Be yourself. Develop a personal style and taste. If appearance reveals who you are, craft what you are displaying to showcase your personality. You don't have to look like everybody else. 

Be comfortable. What you are wearing should blend with who you are and not stick out. If you are uncomfortable with what you look like, change. Otherwise all you will think about all day will be your appearance instead of the people God would have you minister to. 

How has your appearance affected your interactions with others? Do you believe your appearance reveals at least part of who you are? 


  1. I have to say that living in another culture has made a huge impact on how I view my appearance. It is something I am constantly thinking about, "Is this appropriate for the people I'm living amongst?" and while I often feel a bit like a balloon in some of the things I wear -- not even exaggerating -- it does affect my interactions with others for the better when I make that effort. However, one of the things you mentioned I wholeheartedly agree with, be comfortable! Even when I feel like I'm dressed like a balloon, I need to be comfortable in it or I will constantly be drawing attention to my clothing by how uncomfortable I am and thus negating any benefits of wearing it in the first place. To make up for it, I choose material that is bright and cheerful and happy so that I can have fun wearing them even if the style is not one I would choose.

    1. I've noticed before that when people travel to foreign countries they seem to put a lot more thought and intent into what they are wearing and how it will be perceived. I love your attitude toward something that is uncomfortable for you but helpful for the people around you!

  2. I think this is a great post and timely. I didn't realize how much we dressed down in the States until I moved to Europe 15 years ago. My view of how I dress has definantly changed. When we head back to the States I'm always shocked at how ladies dress; stained tees, worn out skirts and tennis shoes and a pony tail. Anyhow, I appreciate your point of view. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting! It is really interesting how casual Americans especially are with their appearance.