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Dressing room fantasies and confessional booth realities

Leah Darrow

In a recent woman’s magazine, a tongue-in-cheek article claimed that shopping is healing for the soul.

In today’s culture, fashion is more than just clothes. Fashion portrays itself as having “healing powers.” You know that feeling when you slip on a dress, zip it up and slowly turn towards the dressing room mirror. Your eyes widen like a deer in headlights as you realize just how good you look in it!

Common sense makes a quick departure and fantasy takes control. You have to have it. It would be an
investment. You invent occasions where you would wear it although you’ve never been invited to said occasions (yet).

It doesn’t matter, the dress fits.

This dressing room high begins to be contingent upon that little price tag. Your fingers fumble around for it and you commence in prayer: Phrases such as, “please be under $100, please be on sale” make circles around your head in a litany of fashionable pleas.

Reality hits as you stare with a blank expression at the price tag, then a questioning look pops up on your face and you wonder how anyone can ask that much for a dress.

You take the dress off and feel defeated, worse yet, you feel terrible that you had to decline all of those party invitations you would have received if you bought the dress.

The dressing room can be the scariest place on earth for a woman. It is where we dream, we cry, we scream, and where we pull out our calculators to see if we can afford our dreams. For some women, the dressing room is a place where we come face to face with the real image of who we are. We can pretend to be someone else, to even look like someone else - but once you are undressed, standing in front of that mirror - the truth glares you straight in the eye. No more hiding. No more pretending.

It can be a vicious cyclone if we buy into the cult of celebrity culture that tells us what is beauty, who to be and what to do with our bodies. This cult of celebrity culture takes another turn south when our definition of happiness relies upon a size, a look, a dress, or anything outside the realm of God, His Kingdom, and His will.

The truth hurts and instead of healing the wounds in the confessional, we sometimes dress them with
fashion. We cover them with minimum credit card payments until all the hurt is paid off. For some reason, this type of proposed “healing power” does more damage than good.

The parallel of the confessional booth and the dressing room seem to be all too close. The confessional booth is a place, a little room where we go to regain our communion with God. In the dressing room we take off our clothes only to put on more, and we definitely don’t leave lighter. The confessional is a dressing room, our chamber of preparation for Christ.

In the Garden of Eden, God asks Adam and Eve, “Who told you that you were naked?” (Gen. 3:11) God focuses on the (evil) influence they accepted first by asking the question of who rather than what.

In the dressing room it is fair to ask ourselves, who or what is telling us that we are too heavy, too short, too tall, too much or too less? Why have we allowed another person’s definition of beauty to define our lives? Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious (cf. 1 Peter 3: 3-4). God is more interested in who we are, not careers, looks, fashions, or bank accounts. “The Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16: 7).

In the Sacrament of Reconciliation no fantasy is handed to us - it is real and total forgiveness. The genuine healing power comes from the Divine Physician; he alone can heal our brokenness. The newly cleansed white baptismal robe we are then dressed in after the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a new dress. But this newly cleansed attire offers truth, no fantasies. We are offered another chance to make the most out of life, to love without counting the costs and to give rather than receive.

This Lent let us step into that little room and change, not our clothes but our lives. Now is the time to change out of sin and into forgiveness and peace, plus it won’t cost us a thing for we have already been purchased at a price (cf. 1 Corinthians 6: 20).

Topics: Culture , Faith , Young Women

Leah Darrow, former fashion model and reality TV contestant, is now a Catholic speaker.  Leah advocates for women by encouraging them to reject the cult of celebrity culture and respond generously to the holy call of authentic womanhood.  www.leahdarrow.com

View all articles by Leah Darrow

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