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Author Topic: Teens, fads, fashions and Orthodoxy  (Read 10456 times) Average Rating: 0
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Carole
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« on: January 30, 2009, 10:59:54 AM »

It isn't exactly a question about Orthodoxy per se.  More of a matter of the musings of a parent. 

We are, at least technically, Catholic.  I have a daughter who will soon be 13.  She is a great kid.  Very serious about her Christian faith and a driving force behind our family's growing interest in and consideration of conversion to Orthodoxy.  But I have been told (by both evangelical Protestant friends and Catholic friends) that she doesn't "look like a good Christian."

Why?

Because she wears her hair cut short, dyes it a dark reddish purple colour and then spikes it out.  She wears a lot of black and red clothing.  She is naturally very pale (thanks to her German and Irish heritage she burns in minutes so she doesn't go out in the sun much and never without sunscreen) and she leans toward darker make-up.  She also has a nostril piercing and is probably going to get her eyebrow pierced.

I believe in giving her the freedom to do some exploration of self-expression through non-permanent fashion statements.  We have some simple rules.  No more than three piercings at any one time.  Nothing permanent - no stretching or "gauging" of anything and no tattoos.  And she has to know when and how to tone it down.  For instance any situation that reasonably requires a more conservative standard of dress must be dressed for appropriately and her dad and I are the final arbiter of what situations "reasonably require" dressing differently.

So far it's working well.  No matter what she looks like on the outside - she is still the same kid on the inside.  She's a young teen.  She doesn't have a job and she is home educated so she has some freedom to do things that the "real world" is very likely to keep her from doing when she's older.  She isn't doing any of this to "fit in" because her friends are all very different from her and from one another.  She doesn't have a "crowd" of kids who all dress the same as friends.  She does it because she's having fun, for now.  I fully expect that at some point she'll find other ways to express her independence and sense of personal style.  For now this is it.  And I'm okay with that.

But I am a bit annoyed with hearing, "But she doesn't look like a Christian/Catholic."

What exactly is a Christian supposed to look like?

Here is my "she doesn't look like a Christian" kid - granted she was pretty tame yesterday when she took this - but this is how she usually looks.


And I guess the question for those here ... if a teen who looked like this came to your parish would you have a problem with it?  Do you think your priest would have a problem with it?

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Carole
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« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2009, 11:30:45 AM »

After Your description I've imagined that she's a goth or something like that but justifying from the picture I cannot see the point. She looks normally and IMO there's nothing wrong with her. If she enterred and Orthodox parish there would not be any problems.

I've even seen an acolyte with dreadlocks once and it wasn't something improper.
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« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2009, 11:43:15 AM »

Thanks Mike.  She's pretty "tame" in the picture (she often wears darker make-up and clothing) - not quite Goth and not quite emo - more like an ode to 80's punk.  But when she tones it down (like for church or dinner with the grandparents) she's even more "normal" looking than that photo.

Here's the whole outfit from yesterday:



And in the interest of 'full' disclosure - she is planning to have the sides of her hair cut really short (like buzz cut length short) and leave the top, back and bangs longer - sort of a modified mohawk (though I don't see this being a hairstyle she'll keep for long as she has some figure skating competitions coming up later in the year for which she'll need to be really tamed down).
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« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2009, 11:46:03 AM »

I see nothing objectionable about her appearance.  I don't think think the Priest at the Parish I attend would would have problem with it, as long as she was still dressing appropriately and didn't wear any makeup on her lips during the Liturgy.

I wouldn't worry about it.  I have longer hair and a scraggly beard, and once in a while I will get a comment or two about not being "clean cut" enough, etc.  It has never been an issue though, whether in a more traditional Roman Catholic parish or an Orthodox parish.  The Priest at he parish I attend now even jokes that I have to start somewhere if my beard will ever catch up to his.   laugh
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« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2009, 11:55:05 AM »

Thanks Nebelpfade.  Dressing well for church is a non-negotiable item - so no worries there and fortunately she never wears anything on her lips - except lip balm when she's figure skating.  I guess I'm just feeling a bit annoyed at being told three times this week that she "doesn't look like a Christian" and I'm in defensive parent mode.
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« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2009, 11:55:23 AM »

She's in good company Smiley http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewPicture&friendID=80631090&albumId=958720

Maybe it's the former punk rocker in me speaking, but I think any Orthodox who takes issue with your daughter's dress is seriously missing the point.
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« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2009, 11:58:54 AM »

You can also recommend her this site.
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« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2009, 12:01:45 PM »

Thanks everyone!  Cool website recommendations.  I'll be sure to point those out to her.
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« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2009, 12:39:59 PM »

She's in good company Smiley http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewPicture&friendID=80631090&albumId=958720

Maybe it's the former punk rocker in me speaking, but I think any Orthodox who takes issue with your daughter's dress is seriously missing the point.

I second this, and from the same (former hardcore) perspective. 
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« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2009, 12:42:10 PM »

She's in good company Smiley http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewPicture&friendID=80631090&albumId=958720

Maybe it's the former punk rocker in me speaking, but I think any Orthodox who takes issue with your daughter's dress is seriously missing the point.

I second this, and from the same (former hardcore) perspective. 

I said punk just to make the conversation easier- but it was actually more hardcore/hardcore-punk for me as well.  Smiley
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« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2009, 04:02:18 PM »

Um, that is nothing. One of our deacons has an ADULT son with blue hair. She doesn't really look unusual at all to me. Maybe it is the area you live in? They think that is unusual where you are, but here that is what a "normal" teen looks like. If she were in a crowd here she would never stick out at all. In other words-that is NOTHING compared to what she could be doing. Most ADULTS around Seattle are more unusual in appearance/dress than her here. She is just trying out some individuality.

Once my kids are old enough to take care of a piercing correctly they can have one. But bear in mind that piercing over scar tissue (re-piercing) is a really bad idea. So once she takes out a piercing and lets it close up she shouldn't try to re-pierce it again. My septum will never close since it is a 9 gauge and has been in for almost ten years. But I am against any piercing under clothing or in your mouth period as long as my kids live with me. Tongue piercings are horrible for your teeth!

Being a hair dresser I have chemical rules. If a child is in a growth period I don't like to do chemical treatments (i.e color, perms and the like) because the results can be pretty variant. Deposit only colors are A-OK even with my 7 year old. She had fire engine red hair for awhile when she was 5. (she asked for it while I was coloring her uncle's hair blue). That was basically "manic panic" and lasted about a month. Her hair is getting darker so if she wants a real drastic color it will have to wait until she is old enough where I feel comfortable bleaching her hair first. I would be willing to do a lightening wash to damage her hair enough to grab color but to actually lift her a few shades or use a lift and deposit color will require that she is much older. And that will be a few years. Warm tones specifically red are easier colors to do vibrantly. Blue and other cool (or pink) tones are very hard. So whenever my kids want red they are welcome to it in our house.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2009, 04:29:39 PM by Quinault » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2009, 04:21:55 PM »

Quote
"But she doesn't look like a Christian/Catholic."

This is the sort of things that really gets me irritated. Like there's a look that Orthodox Christians should have. I'd tell the people to mind their own business.  Cool
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« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2009, 04:24:40 PM »

I had waist length dreads for awhile as a teen. And as long as she doesn't get a fringe or "Chelsea girl" haircut she shouldn't attract much attention. That haircut would attract attention simply because of the association with Skinhead culture.

(this haircut is shaving your head except for a "fringe" of hair-the bangs, sides and sometimes the back. Basically you leave the hairline alone and shave everything else. The perimeter of your hair is left intact and the rest is shaved. It is a really cute haircut actually, too bad it is now synonymous with skinhead culture)
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« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2009, 04:25:18 PM »

People should focus on Christ while in church not the colour of someone's hair. 
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« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2009, 04:30:34 PM »

She's in good company Smiley http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewPicture&friendID=80631090&albumId=958720

Maybe it's the former punk rocker in me speaking, but I think any Orthodox who takes issue with your daughter's dress is seriously missing the point.

I third (fourth?) this sentiment, coming from a former SHARPie.

I think someone pointed out in another thread on here recently that there are more punks/metalheads in the Church than most people think. Smiley
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« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2009, 05:05:02 PM »

When I was a teen we played in punk bands, dressed the part.  We even had to make our own get-ups, Hot Topics wasn't around. Not that we were the type of kids who would buy our image at a suburban pre-packaged store.  It was good clean fun and I had a lot of good cronies in those days.  I wouldn't change it for the world.
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« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2009, 06:42:18 PM »

Your daughter is lovely.  And yes, I know a quite a few punks in the Church myself.  Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2009, 09:43:15 AM »

Um, that is nothing. One of our deacons has an ADULT son with blue hair. She doesn't really look unusual at all to me. Maybe it is the area you live in? They think that is unusual where you are, but here that is what a "normal" teen looks like. If she were in a crowd here she would never stick out at all. In other words-that is NOTHING compared to what she could be doing. Most ADULTS around Seattle are more unusual in appearance/dress than her here. She is just trying out some individuality.

To some extent it is definitely where we live.  Here in Alabama anything not covered in camo from head to toe stands out.  LOL  Seriously, opinions on clothing are pretty conservative here.  In Tampa (where we used to live) her clothing, make-up, hair and facial piercing(s) would be a non-issue.  But here ... well ... yeah.

Oddly enough some of the comments are coming from Catholic friends in other parts of the country though (even larger cities).

We're "square peg" kind of people though.  We never fit neatly into anything.  I am a pro-life, fiscal conservative, environmental liberal, vegetarian, Catholic-wanting-to-be-Orthodox, homeschooling mom who lives in the land of "If it moves, kill it then grill it", truck-driving, camo-wearing, use dead animals as "day-core", born-again fundamentalist Christians. It's really no surprise that my daughter stands out here.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2009, 09:44:15 AM by Carole » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2009, 02:09:43 PM »

I grew up in Mississippi and I know exactly what you mean.

My wife and I were in a punk rock band.
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« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2009, 08:56:53 PM »

Carole,

Your daughter is beautiful and I believe it's likely that you worry too much about what other people think about her; even if it is in a defensive way. This is not a criticism, but a word of encouragement. Really, who cares what other people think about your daughter? I was brought up at a time when what the neighbours thought seemed to be paramount and it was stifling. Thank God those times have passed. Remember that people would judge your daughter even if she were the picture-perfect "Christian" - whatever that might be. Encourage her to continue to be a God-serving individual and not worry about what people think about her outward expression of fashion taste. I have one granddaughter who loves camo-gear; she sometimes goes to liturgy dressed like she's ready to go to combat, but she is more the pacifist than anyone I know. People will always be putting conditions on what is *acceptable* for a Christian. God is interested what goes on in the heart, not one's outward appearance; and to suggest stringent rules regarding appearance is to fall into the legalism of pharisaism.

God be with you and your family.
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« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2009, 09:27:41 AM »

What's the deal? Half the kids I teach dress quite similarly. It's what's in style now, and it can't be any worse than plaid polyester, Day-Glo and JNCO. Knowing my student, that is how teenage Christians dress. I wouldn't sweat over it if I were in your place.
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« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2009, 02:53:52 PM »

My nephew wears skinny pants.  His mother and I wish that the phase will quickly pass.

In the 1980's, girls emulated Molly Ringwald, Madonna or Cyndi Lauper
In the 1990's, girls emulated Jennifer Aniston
In the 2000's, girls emulate Posh Spice or the Gossip Girl look.

As others have said, it is all a part of growing up.  Knowing my estranged wife, our son will be a preppie boy when he's 13 in 2018 or so.  Grin

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« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2009, 06:37:21 PM »

I define myself through Christ not what I wear or own.  People are people, it's what in their heart that counts not if they have a nose-ring and blue hair or if they wear armani or wranglers.
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« Reply #23 on: February 02, 2009, 09:14:42 PM »

A punk Orthodox couple I met a couple of years ago.  Don't know if the link will work.

Nice people:
http://my.orthodoxcircle.com/OC/monk2in1
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« Reply #24 on: February 02, 2009, 11:06:19 PM »

What's the deal? Half the kids I teach dress quite similarly. It's what's in style now, and it can't be any worse than plaid polyester, Day-Glo and JNCO. Knowing my student, that is how teenage Christians dress. I wouldn't sweat over it if I were in your place.

Oh, junior high was a dark time. What was I thinking wearing those pants... Huh Shocked
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« Reply #25 on: February 03, 2009, 12:11:50 AM »

A punk Orthodox couple I met a couple of years ago.  Don't know if the link will work.

Nice people:
http://my.orthodoxcircle.com/OC/monk2in1

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« Reply #26 on: February 03, 2009, 12:30:27 AM »

It isn't exactly a question about Orthodoxy per se.  More of a matter of the musings of a parent. 

We are, at least technically, Catholic.  I have a daughter who will soon be 13.  She is a great kid.  Very serious about her Christian faith and a driving force behind our family's growing interest in and consideration of conversion to Orthodoxy.  But I have been told (by both evangelical Protestant friends and Catholic friends) that she doesn't "look like a good Christian."

Why?

Because she wears her hair cut short, dyes it a dark reddish purple colour and then spikes it out.  She wears a lot of black and red clothing.  She is naturally very pale (thanks to her German and Irish heritage she burns in minutes so she doesn't go out in the sun much and never without sunscreen) and she leans toward darker make-up.  She also has a nostril piercing and is probably going to get her eyebrow pierced.

I believe in giving her the freedom to do some exploration of self-expression through non-permanent fashion statements.  We have some simple rules.  No more than three piercings at any one time.  Nothing permanent - no stretching or "gauging" of anything and no tattoos.  And she has to know when and how to tone it down.  For instance any situation that reasonably requires a more conservative standard of dress must be dressed for appropriately and her dad and I are the final arbiter of what situations "reasonably require" dressing differently.

So far it's working well.  No matter what she looks like on the outside - she is still the same kid on the inside.  She's a young teen.  She doesn't have a job and she is home educated so she has some freedom to do things that the "real world" is very likely to keep her from doing when she's older.  She isn't doing any of this to "fit in" because her friends are all very different from her and from one another.  She doesn't have a "crowd" of kids who all dress the same as friends.  She does it because she's having fun, for now.  I fully expect that at some point she'll find other ways to express her independence and sense of personal style.  For now this is it.  And I'm okay with that.

But I am a bit annoyed with hearing, "But she doesn't look like a Christian/Catholic."

What exactly is a Christian supposed to look like?

Here is my "she doesn't look like a Christian" kid - granted she was pretty tame yesterday when she took this - but this is how she usually looks.


And I guess the question for those here ... if a teen who looked like this came to your parish would you have a problem with it?  Do you think your priest would have a problem with it?



Your daughter is why it is great to be Orthodox and not evangelical or Catholic. Tell the commentators on her appearance to bug off (if you know what I mean). Follow her lead into the ancient Faith.

My daughter wore the same dark colors, wore cherry red Doc Martens mid calf boots to her prom, is tragically pale to this day, wore dark eye-liner and dark lipstick all through high school and is the best adjusted of our kids.

Especially do not hold an ounce of gravitas over anything an evangelical might say. My sister still persists in evangelical circles and one goofball last spring questioned her new interest in hockey when the Penguins went to the Stanley Cup Finals commenting that "there weren't may Christians in hockey." That says much about the kind of insight you might get from someone of that persuasion.

What did Jesus say, something to the effect that to the pure all things are pure. Your daughter seems to have a pure heart which sanctifies her choice in wardrobe.

Just because the hair and makeup are just right and the arms are lifted up to a sappy song "in praise of Jesus" doesn't mean the heart is right.
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« Reply #27 on: February 03, 2009, 12:38:03 AM »

Quote
"But she doesn't look like a Christian/Catholic."

This is the sort of things that really gets me irritated. Like there's a look that Orthodox Christians should have. I'd tell the people to mind their own business.  Cool
BUT Orthodox are NOT telling her this. People of other communions are. It is her daughter's interest in Orthodoxy (where she possibly has found the freedom to be who she is - a bit counter cultural because Orthodoxy is counter cultural) that is leading the parents to consider Othodoxy. Bogul made the same mis-interpretation of the OP. It is what OTHERS are saying, not Orthodox.
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« Reply #28 on: February 03, 2009, 03:58:22 AM »

A punk Orthodox couple I met a couple of years ago.  Don't know if the link will work.

Nice people:
http://my.orthodoxcircle.com/OC/monk2in1

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Thought so - sorry.
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« Reply #29 on: February 03, 2009, 10:14:35 AM »

Quote
"But she doesn't look like a Christian/Catholic."

This is the sort of things that really gets me irritated. Like there's a look that Orthodox Christians should have. I'd tell the people to mind their own business.  Cool
BUT Orthodox are NOT telling her this. People of other communions are. It is her daughter's interest in Orthodoxy (where she possibly has found the freedom to be who she is - a bit counter cultural because Orthodoxy is counter cultural) that is leading the parents to consider Othodoxy. Bogul made the same mis-interpretation of the OP. It is what OTHERS are saying, not Orthodox.

The same groups that would say she doesn't look "Christian" enough would be the same ones who would raise concerns if she wore long skirts and a headscarf.  In my mind, appearances don't matter too much as long as she's not dressing provocatively or, say, wearing pajamas to church.  She looks to be a lovely girl with a sense of style that fits in with her peers at the moment.  I also agree it's what is in her heart, not on her shirts, that defines her. 
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« Reply #30 on: February 05, 2009, 08:16:59 PM »

I agree with everyone else. Your daughter is lovely and sounds well-adjusted. Though it is hard to hear her criticized, I think you should ignore the commentary. If these people presist in saying things like this and you want to try to enlighten them, then ask them why your daughter's appearance is so important to them (i.e. "I'm sorry, but I don't understand what you mean by that." or "It seems like you are saying my daughter's appearance a problem for you. Why is this?") Usually people saying things like this are expressing their (narrow-minded) worldview, but there may be some underlying concern there that is difficult to express. Again, it all has to do with how important your relationship is with these detractors. Good luck!
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« Reply #31 on: February 06, 2009, 12:07:54 AM »

Actually I find alot of Goth/ Punk kids are more open to Orthodoxy than to other communions.  A lot of them are well read and inteligent.  Many are weary of "conventional" Christian expressions that see them as freaks only consider people who wear khaki and plaid, dress shirts, long skirts, and look like a version of a Ken/Conservative Barbie doll as lookin "Christian".   Nothing against anyone who wears Khaki and Plaid, mind Wink.

Anyway, its the heart that counts, and where her focus is.  If it's on God, then it is in the right place.  End of Story.  The Church is there to help us continue our journey to Perfection, not judge people who have Neon Hair. 

Peace!
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« Reply #32 on: February 09, 2009, 02:48:17 AM »

Actually I find alot of Goth/ Punk kids are more open to Orthodoxy than to other communions.  A lot of them are well read and inteligent.  Many are weary of "conventional" Christian expressions that see them as freaks only consider people who wear khaki and plaid, dress shirts, long skirts, and look like a version of a Ken/Conservative Barbie doll as lookin "Christian".   Nothing against anyone who wears Khaki and Plaid, mind Wink.

Anyway, its the heart that counts, and where her focus is.  If it's on God, then it is in the right place.  End of Story.  The Church is there to help us continue our journey to Perfection, not judge people who have Neon Hair. 

Peace!

In some circles, the current conventional fashions are ok, even if it is short skirts and cleavage. But don some dark eye shadow and burgundy lipstick and the thought is that you are the span of satan. It's ridiculous and mindless and evident of cultural captivity, not true Christian sanctity.

You are totally correct that punk/goth/outsider kids are more open to Orthodoxy. These kids may be tapping into a source of grace in their rejection of superficial cultural values. If you are already an outsider, it is a bit more natural to live the Christian life because it will soon make you an outsider



Fixed quote tags - Ukiemeister
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« Reply #33 on: February 09, 2009, 02:50:56 AM »

sorry for the large blue block

don't know how the quote and reply got separated so i put alot of spaces between them
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« Reply #34 on: February 10, 2009, 02:00:24 AM »

Personally I don't think she looks particularly outlandish or strange. When I do see someone who I feel is dressed in a manner I find weird I reflect upon something one of my favorite authors once wrote, "Let he who has never worn parachute pants cast the first stone."
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« Reply #35 on: February 10, 2009, 11:45:33 PM »

You have a great daughter and she does not look strange at all. Furthermore, she is careful in selection of her clothes, etc. when she comes to a church. Please do not worry about it.
Anyway, its the heart that counts, and where her focus is.  If it's on God, then it is in the right place.  End of Story.  The Church is there to help us continue our journey to Perfection, not judge people who have Neon Hair. 

Peace!

This is a wonderful summary!

Carole, I know that it hurts to hear all these insults and judgements that you mentioned. But they did not deserve your reaction.
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« Reply #36 on: February 11, 2009, 12:35:39 AM »

But I am a bit annoyed with hearing, "But she doesn't look like a Christian/Catholic."

That reminds me of something a priest I knew used to say.  He stated on occasion that most people in church today would have looked down upon the Theotokos for being a pregnant teenager.  Something to keep in mind when we start talking about what a Christian is supposed to look like.
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« Reply #37 on: February 11, 2009, 12:59:31 AM »

I must add, though, that Orthodoxy isn't free of the "clothing police". When I was first an inquirer into Orthodoxy, I was handed a list of clothing rules which I found kind of intimidating. Fortunately, where I live people don't seem to be aware that there is such a list.  Grin
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« Reply #38 on: February 11, 2009, 01:40:19 AM »

One of the great things about Orthodoxy in the West is that it's still considered "exotic" and not many people have heard of it, which means that it can appeal to the western youthful need to assert individual identity as well as be "different" expressed through fashion.
And even us oldies can get into it (as my tattoo received at age 40 testifies!)

Orthodox fashion gear can be bought online at:
http://store.fullnessofthefaith.com/
But you'd better hurry while it's still fashionable and exotic!
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« Reply #39 on: February 11, 2009, 04:05:08 PM »

Carole, I am sorry for responding so late.

Your daughter is a very good looking young person! Don't listen to those who say that she does not look like a good Christian or Catholic.

My 24-y.o. went through a phase when she colored her hair green or bright red, and wore a ring in her brow. Right now, the ring is gone and the color of her hair is back to normal (fair), but she is now into eyeglasses with very thick frame, which make her look like a nerd (and she loves it). What can I say? So be it. Smiley
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« Reply #40 on: March 12, 2010, 11:10:51 PM »

I'm goth and have been my entire life Cheesy
I also like dying my hair black and doing dramatic reds because I like the way it looks.
I have my left nostril pierced and also have my top ears pierced along with my lobes of my ears.
My church has never ever had a problem with me looking dyed and pierced.
I guess it all depends on how you wear it to be honest.
I'm even going to be getting some ink when I'm older.

One doesn't have to "look" a good christian to BE a good christian.
I don't think that the relationship of your daughter and God is dependent on her appearance.
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« Reply #41 on: March 12, 2010, 11:29:19 PM »

Beware of vanity.
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« Reply #42 on: March 14, 2010, 01:24:57 AM »

She looks fine. Smiley

I agree with the above post. I think if you can "take it or leave it" you're good. There's nothing wrong with dressing up but if you can't leave the house without makeup or designer ______ there's a problem. (That could also be teenage insecurity though if it's true).
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« Reply #43 on: March 14, 2010, 09:59:44 AM »

You can also recommend her this site.

Where was this stuff when I was in my teens and early twenties of course that would of been the 80's.

I use to joke that I was going to just disappear and live as a hermit somewhere lol.

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« Reply #44 on: March 14, 2010, 03:37:58 PM »

You can also recommend her this site.

Where was this stuff when I was in my teens and early twenties of course that would of been the 80's.

I use to joke that I was going to just disappear and live as a hermit somewhere lol.





THIS IS SO COOL!
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