There I was, in the middle of Walmart, getting supplies for tonight’s fish fry. We are learning fish fries are the thing to do in the Midwest on Friday night. Fish on Friday. A religious habit morphed into going out to the bar with your buddies after a long week of work. Ours will be at home.
So there I was, lost somewhere in my grocery list, when ‘he’ appeared, snapping me out of my shopping fog. I had to bite my lips to keep from laughing. It wasn’t so much the saggy bottom ‘gangsta’ look he had donned…I have seen a number of young men pull this off without a waddle. Not this kid. In order to keep the jeans perched in place below the hips, one must take a wide stance with knees slightly bent. Then sort of swing from side to side as you step. Never mind running, he could barely walk. It took me a moment to recognize where I had seen this gait before. Anyone who has cared for children in diapers know the walk I’m talking about. It’s the toddler’s “there’s something in there that I’m trying to run away from” walk. The realization made it worse…I think I can faintly see teeth marks in my bottom lip. As I watched him walk away, I thought “What some people will do to look good.”
Then I remembered the heels in the donation box. Very stylish, but my little toes don’t like them. And the closet full of clothes. And all the boots! (I love my boots!)
DaddyFoster says if I want to buy anymore clothes, I must donate some first.
What else do we do to look good? Makeup, the latest clothing fashions, body art, jewelry, even surgery. My great, great grandma used to change into a nice dress and do her makeup and hair before she could go to the grocery store. We dress to the image we want to convey. What this young man wore to the store was intentional. It might not be what I would choose, but it wasn’t a mistake. He put on these clothes because he was going out into public. What did I put on before I left the house? A long colorful skirt with a pink shirt. Even a bit of mascara. And I couldn’t pick just any shoes, they had to be my favorite flats (not to be confused with the favorite boots, the favorite sandals, or the favorite dress shoes).
Why is our appearance so important? What does it matter to us so much? It matters because of our perceptions of others. What do you think about the woman with ill-fitting clothes? Or the man with missing teeth? The mom with unwashed hair, towing three grumpy kids through the grocery store? How about the boy with saggy bottom jeans? What do you think of the man in a suit? The mom with her workout clothes on, makeup and hair perfect? The super athletic neighbor? What do we assume about people? And what do these assumptions tell us about their hearts? Nothing really. But it does us a lot about our own hearts. It tells us about our own insecurities, or own blindness, our own….”issues”. It tell us about our assumptions of ourselves, and how that may extend to others. (If I assume having missing teeth makes me less of a person, does how do I feel about others with missing teeth?) And it can open us up to breaking those stereotypes. (I am an educated person with missing teeth, therefore others with missing teeth are intelligent, educated people).
I wonder if that young man would have ever guessed wearing saggy bottom jeans to Walmart would inspire a woman to question her assumptions? Keep up the good work, kid!