Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fashion, politics, and religion aka Outfit #10

30 for 30 Banner

All remixed except earrings
Blouson top: Target
Jeans: Banana Republic
Gladiators: Chinese Laundry
Stone bracelet: gift
Quetzal earrings: gift from a friend in Guatemala

Nothing terribly exciting for today, but I like this look anyway. I've got an exciting day of laundry, reading, cooking, and small group, so I figured I could wear jeans. Besides, it's actually cool enough that I won't be baking in them all day long.

Yesterday and Monday, there was some discussion of "slogan tees" over on academichic and it's spilled over into today. I thought it was pretty interesting. I feel the same way about slogan tees and bumper stickers: I like to read them, but I'm not putting them on. I mean, yeah, I sleep in my Obama tees, and B. and I have this sticker on our fridge, but these are statements I make inside my house, because the people who come here know me and can get more than the message on a shirt or a sticker.

I was raised in a house where we had political opinions, where we watched the news every night in English and in Spanish, where foreign policy affected my family in a real and tangible way. I'm not shy about my opinions, but they are complicated. I'm a Christian. I'm a Latina who was raised primarily in the US. I lean left, politically speaking. I'm middle class. The years abroad have given me a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to the media, and yet I am an NPR junkie. I've lived in wealthy areas and in poor areas. I teach.
All these things shape my view of the world, and they just don't make a shirt for that. Even so, my clothing and my body say things about my beliefs and convictions. They speak to the issues that are important to me.

As I've thought about this slogan tee thing, though, I thought about one of the ways that I've made a statement about my beliefs and politics.

My tattoo. I knew I wanted one from the time I was thirteen, and it took me only twelve more years to actually go through with it. I thought long and hard about what it would be (five years of thinking), and decided on this: "Bendito Dios por Encontrarme" - Blessed be God for finding me. I was fully aware of what it meant to me as far as my faith. I really do believe that God met me and rescued me at just the right time, as cheesy as that sounds. And while I am not one of those Christians who will tell you that Jesus makes your life easy, I will say that my life is exponentially better because of Him, even when things really suck.

And there's a testament to my ethnicity in there, too. I chose a message in Spanish because it's my first language, it's the language of my home and my church, the language in which I can best express strong emotion. Spanish is a big part of my Latina identity, and that's a huge part of who I am.

But as I've been thinking about the things we express with our clothes and our bodies, I'm starting to see the politics behind my tattoo as well. I am passionate about the importance of Spanish to the Latino community. I am passionate about the importance of ethnic and cultural identity for healthy development among adolescents - and adults, too, since I've met many, many adults who feel a bit adrift when it comes to this issue. I don't believe in the "great American melting pot" I feel like the cultural things - deep cultural things from generations back - are so ingrained that we can't even recognize them for what they are until we come up against something that really challenges these norms. We keep elements of who we are as members of something bigger, and meld them with elements of what we are becoming, but these things don't cancel each other out - we're like swirl soft serve, in a way. And this tattoo in Spanish on a woman who's grown up in the US is a way of preserving that cultural and spiritual identity, passing it on.

Does it make people uncomfortable? Perhaps. Is it on par with a pithy saying on a t-shirt? Maybe, and that's tough for me to admit. Is everything I wear saying something about who I am and who I am not? I'm not sure yet.


  1. Bravo for this post! Long-time lurker, here, and I just wanted to applaud your decision to share your perspective on life, religion and politics with the world. I wish I could write this comment in a way that's as meaningful to me as your post is to you, but I know I'm failing miserably. Thanks for sharing, and I love your earrings!

  2. Thanks so much! It's a hard thing to put things like this up, knowing that this is a blog that's ostensibly about style/fashion, but it's been on my mind.

  3. I really liked this post. You go girl. I don't like the "melting pot" idea either - I like to think of it more as a big salad. Everyone stays the same (tomatoes are still tomatoes in a salad) but they are mixed together to create America. Much better than everyone melting together into some sort of weird mush. I admire you for sticking with your culture, language, and religion. The world (especially America) needs more of that.

  4. I think it is wonderful that you know exactly who you are - I think most people spend far too much time trying to be something else.

    I also am with you on logo tees - funny to see in a store, but not on your chest.

    Chic on the Cheap

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you! It's really encouraging to hear your perspectives.
    AJ: Yeah, I like the salad analogy SO MUCH better than the melting pot! There's such a beauty in diversity and it's good to preserve that in a way that still allows people to function cohesively.

    LyddieGal: It's taken me a long time to get these things sorted out, but I'm grateful that I'm at this place now. Am I still evolving? I hope so. But there are some things that are fundamentally who I am.

  6. Great post Frances. What a great backstory/decision for your tattoo, I can admire that even as an agnostic.

    And on a superficial fashion level. That square cut top is divine!

  7. that top does nice things for your collar bone area. ;)

    as for the rest...a thoughtful and flawless post from my favorite writer. i'm still holding out hope that you'll write a day...


  8. Thanks ladies!
    Echoing that fashion level - I'm always amazed by how flattering that neckline in.

    PS - One day I'll get on that book, thing, Jess. ;)

  9. Love the top and your tattoo is great. Glad it means so much to you, think thats how tats should be, although me hubby's dont all have much reasoning. Glad you thought my dress was worth it!

    Daisy Dayz Home


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