Thursday, November 17, 2005

In Defense of My Pink Slingbacks

Another classic from the Christianity Today Singles Channel. THIS is part of where I am RIGHT NOW. Though... I'm not sure I could ever own a pair of pink slingbacks. Maybe I should buy a pink shirt, though (remember - I hate pink. but it's nice to be a girl).

In Defense of My Pink Slingbacks
by Camerin Courtney
November 16, 2005

My friend Max calls them incidents that put a little extra sway in your hips. And, mercifully, I've had a couple of them recently. A man at the laundromat I frequent asked for my number. A guy at a movie theater complemented my walk (I didn't even know I had a walk.)

I love the way these interactions affirm my femininity, put a bit of a sly smile on my lips, make me feel soft and girlie.

I get a similar feeling when I wear my new pointy pink slingbacks. Decidedly feminine and flirty. I've been wearing heels a lot lately. At five-foot-two, I admit part of this is for altitude reasons. But part of it, I suspect, is something deeper.

I have a feeling it has less to do with fashion and more to do with my secret singleness fear—my phobia of one day becoming one of those genderless, older never-married women who sports sansabelt pants and sensible shoes.

Those who know me well know how silly and unfounded this fear is. I'm a fairly girlie girl. I own more than two dozen pairs of shoes, including the aforementioned pink slingbacks. I have purses for all seasons and moods. And an ex-boyfriend accused me of being lipstick dependent.

But still, I understand where that gender-neutrality comes from.

Recently someone asked me if I relate more to the youth group crowd or the "grown up's table" in my current congregation, since she knows that being a single in the church can at times feel like being a person without a country. My answer surprised me. While I don't feel youth groupie, I admittedly sometimes feel less like an adult without a spouse or kids in my life. And yet other times I feel more like an adult—only both the female and male aspects of that as I've had to play both roles in my home and my life. I cook and I carry. I decorate and I repair. I welcome, organize, clean, and finance. However these roles get distributed in a marriage—along traditional gender lines or not—I do it all. And in that all-purpose-ness, I think a little something gets lost.

There's just something about being a female to someone's male. The yin to someone's yang. There's just something about a man noticing things about me, admiring them, verbalizing them, that puts a sway in my hips like nothing else I know. Without these kinds of interactions, it's easy to get a little gender-neutral and tough.

Of course, I know that being a woman is so much more than swaying hips and sly smiles. More than wearing heels and lip gloss. More than softness and flirty interactions with men. But I know that the overall definition includes plenty of room for such things, and that when I go without, I feel it. A certain harshness creeps in. Sharp edges. Bristles and points.

I was at a church women's retreat a few years ago and the theme for the weekend was women and sexuality. With the sexual "liberation" of women over the past several decades and with women in our entertainment media getting more sexually loose and aggressive, it seems the church has gotten somewhat quiet about women's sexuality—other than to cry foul at all hints of sex outside of marriage. But our speaker did a great job of reminding us that we're created by God as sexual human beings—not just as ones who can have sex, but as a sex: female.

It was so interesting to talk about the fact that the God of the universe could have created me male or female and that he, who knits us together in our mother's womb (Psalm 139:13), must have very deliberately made me female.

Also, God could have created us genderless, could have found some other way for us to multiply. But he made us humans in his image and did so in two distinct ways—man and woman. There was design in this, intentionality.

So we are created sexual beings—male and female. And as we discussed ways to reclaim the positives of being created a sexual human being, of redefining and reclaiming godly womanhood, someone in this mostly married audience asked a great question: How do single women accomplish this?

The speaker—a learned, wise, and godly wife and mom of three daughters—replied in a way that gave me both comfort and a bit of despair. She said something along the lines of, "That's a great question. I don't exactly know." I loved her honesty, her unwillingness to slap easy answers on a complex issue. But the question still hung there: how? How do I stay in touch with the decidedly female aspects of my personality? How do I prevent them from atrophying when they go untapped or uncontextualized for stretches of time?

Many voices in Christendom seem to define womanhood mostly along lines of being a wife and mom. Several best-selling books, including John Eldredge's Wild at Heart and his recent joint effort with his wife, Stasi, Captivating, have tried to help define what constitutes true manhood and womanhood. Their four-point definition for each gender gives good food for thought, though I suspect our God's crafting of human beings—the only thing in creation he deemed "very good"—is a bit more complex and mysterious than that. And certainly more involved than our potential roles as spouses and parents.

I suspect the definition is a bit more unique to each person's life than we often allow for. And I have a hunch that finding anything close to a true definition won't happen just in conversation, but more so in living it out. Mostly in relationship. And mostly in relationship with the other gender. Contrasting. Complementing. Coming together to be something stronger.

So whenever I get one of those fun or sly interactions with a man—whether he's someone I'm dating or just a kind stranger—I feel a dormant part of me come alive. Wake up. And I savor this delicious feeling and the resulting hip swaying. Every girl needs a little sway every now and then, no?

In those seasons when I'm without a man's admiration, protection, touch, and I feel myself getting a smidge gender-neutral, I try to get creative. To be honest, I haven't found much that replicates that delicious male-female dance. But, in grasping at something, I wear more skirts, buy pink heels.

Yes, I know my femininity goes so much deeper than flirtiness and my choice of footwear. I know my latter such fashion choices are, at times, a simplistic and subconscious way to try to compensate for something that's missing. But I also think such externals sometimes serve as physical reminders of my womanhood—to others and mostly to myself.

So on occasion I can look down at my pink-clad feet and remember, yes, I am a woman. And I have hips and curves and softness and emotions and a whole slew of other things God's wired in me that make me truly female. And I need to celebrate and allow room for those things. Perhaps just keeping that on my mind is an important first step in staying feminine.

And with enough of these little steps, maybe I'll eventually better learn what it means to walk out good godly womanhood as a single, whether I'm in pink slingbacks or those dreaded sensible shoes.

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Jenni said...

good article. Makes me want to expand the pink sectionof my wardrobe.

bloggeruser said...

ouch on the pointy shoes! if they were hot pink....hmmmm...good article!