From Catwalk to Church Aisle

by Jen on September 20, 2007

By Brianne Ogden

For as long as I can remember, Church has been a fashion show of sorts. Whether it was trying to dazzle the Priests or outshine the other Laurels, when Sunday morning rolled around, clothes went flying.

Also, for as long as I can remember, Sunday mornings have been a frantic, frenzied, chaotic couple of hours. It was thirty minutes in the shower, shaving my legs to perfection. An hour in my closet, inevitably resulting in half of the contents on the floor in a colorful mound. Forty-five minutes spent on my hair, straightening it or pinning it until my forearms ached. Matching eye shadows, the perfect belt, a few rings, a brooch, and on those particularly rushed mornings, closed toed shoes to cover up chipped toenails. And that was just High School.

When I entered college, I found myself in a completely different playing field. Living in Huntington Beach, California for my first year, I found myself encompassed in a virtual Vogue fashion spread. My first week at church, girls were walking into the stake center like models off the catwalk.

Pencil pinstriped skirts with silk designer blouses. Authentic vintage dresses from the 50’s. Four inch heels, patent leather, bright red. Gucci, Fendi, Prada. Perfect nails to match the headband, perfect headband to match the shoes, perfect shoes to match the skirt. Every young college girl with stunningly coifed, beach bunny blond curls.

And there I was, in my pleated forty-dollar skirt from Nordstrom, the one that always got me a compliment or two back at home. Only here—it was my Schwinn ten-speed compared to their luxury private jet.

From then on, it was an hour in the shower. An hour and a half on my hair, plus the two hundred dollar dye job. It was two hours every Saturday night painting my nails, carefully inserting fake eyelashes, and ironing that Armani blouse, that had me in debt for a month, to perfection. It was fret and time spent on color coordinating every last detail.

This process was enormously draining. By the time I settled in my seat at church, I was so uncomfortable. Nothing felt natural. It was a constant battle. I had to sit in a way that my dress wouldn’t wrinkle, but in a way that showed my most flattering angle. I couldn’t move my head too much, it wasn’t worth it to risk messing up my painstakingly pinned up hair. Taking all that into consideration, bending over to pick up the hymnbook or my scriptures off of the ground was out of the question.

What was I getting out of church? Sadly, this was a question that never made it past all of the superficial, shallow worries in my mind.

I am older now. Sometimes I won’t shave my legs for a week. If my nails are chipped, I’ll deal. But there will be a Sunday here and there that if I can’t find a flawless article to wear, I feel like crawling back into bed and sleeping until my wardrobe transforms into something more satisfactory.

A couple of weeks ago while in England with some friends, I was getting ready for church when I realized that I packed absolutely nothing suitable for church. When really I had a few options, only none of them were appealing to me at the moment. It wasn’t until my friend said something to me, that my whole entire perspective on the situation did a one-eighty. She said, “Heavenly Father does not care how stylish you are.” Such a simple notion. Why had it taken twenty-four years for me to realize it?

As young single adults, living in a fashion-soaked generation, it often feels like looking cutting edge is the only thing that matters. Sometimes we give up what we want most, for what seems important to us at the time. I gave up years of my life to that superficial little devil on my shoulder.

I went to church that beautiful day in England. My dress was a little less than stylish, a little less than cute. But for the first time in my life, I cared about how my Heavenly Father saw me, and not how all of my peers saw me. I felt utterly content.

Brianne Ogden attends Southern Virginia University, where she is currently studying philosophy and serving as the Editor in Chief of the school’s newsmagazine.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

John and Jacy September 22, 2007 at 5:35 pm

an incredible piece Bree! I love your writing. We can all learn something from this article. Now, I find myself worrying more about the piece of hair sticking straight up on Cam’s head or the booger in Paysons nose that I couldn’t quite reach, instead of listening to the speaker. I loved the Article!

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Anonymous September 23, 2007 at 10:54 am

Great article! Hit the nail right on the head.
TNT

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Anonymous September 23, 2007 at 9:49 pm

I love it! You are an amazing writer. I found my eyes starting to sting cause I hadn’t blinked for so long while reading it. Thanks for the insight! Love ya!

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Anonymous September 23, 2007 at 9:50 pm

p.s. that last one was from me! I can’t remember any of my login info. It’s the blonde in me! Alisa

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elizabeth ann October 12, 2007 at 1:58 pm

this article is amazing i have forwarded the link to others. as for the singles ward in Huntington i know which ward you speak of and have been there. unfortunately the “style” of the women in the ward does make the average girl feel inadequate. But we all must come to realize the reason we go and it is to worship. thank you for you articles!

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Anonymous October 16, 2007 at 7:10 pm

thank you for this article. i really needed it. lately i’ve been worrying more about how i look than anything else. this article reminded me of a sripture in 1 Samuel, “…for the lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the lord looketh on the heart!” it’s so true!never care more about how you look than how you live!!!

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kyndra October 23, 2007 at 7:49 am

that was so inspering it made me think about all those girls at school who try to out shine there friends with the most expensive clothes

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Anonymous October 24, 2007 at 6:22 pm

Unfortunately, in the US church is a catwalk. Sometimes I have to fight the thought of looking perfect above all things, than doing a good job in my callings, nourishing people, and being nourished myself. I loved the article!

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Anonymous November 2, 2007 at 8:40 pm

I know what you mean and sadly the fashion show doesn’t always end with the YSA. As a young married adult I’ve found myself primping and striving to get just the right look to impress others and to show the other girls in the ward that I do know how to dress. It’s sad and true but I’ve started to mend my ways. Thanks for your article.

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Anonymous November 20, 2007 at 8:47 pm

i’ve noticed that it only takes one person focused on their appearance to get the rest of us on board. i find this problem is biggest in utah, not as bad everywhere else, what is that saying?? why do we compete with each other? but it only takes one to say, “well, you can look frumpy and dumpy but i’m going to turn heads”. whose heads? married men? it’s not classy, it’s trampy.

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