Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Students of the culture 24/7

I have been pondering something recently, which I have not made a final, or concluding, decision on.  This is one of those things that my husband would categorize under "Be a student of the culture 24/7".  This is only the second half of what he says but it is the part that applies.  My pondering is on dress code, apparel, and appearance.

When I first arrived here I was still wearing my turtle neck sweaters as I was working on thawing out from the minus 40 weather.  I would say my wardrobe consisted of jeans, t-shirts, and mostly very causal clothes.  My shoes were all closed shoes, comfortable loafer types.  My closet said 'comfortable'.  Over time I noticed that my clothes were not 'right'.  Every time I went out, the ladies were 'dressed up'.  Or, at least, much more so than I was.  I would also say their wardrobes did not say 'comfortable' but were rather stylish, classy, very feminine, and some even sexy.

After being here about a year I went out for breakfast with friends from my coto and they began discussing how much I had changed.  My clothes were more summery, were more feminine.  They said how much I had changed. They were really impressed when I wore heels! (Although it was decided that that was not fair, even with flats I was a head taller than most!)

Shortly thereafter another conversations happened about how much I had changed in appearance. I said I had't noticed. She showed me a picture of myself from our first breakfast. Yes, I had changed.  They said my look was much better, more feminine.
Me at my first breakfast with the gym ladies
I will admit it has taken me some time to listen, observe, and notice these things.  Not because I don't like who I am, or how I look.  But, as Ernie says, 'you need to be a student of the culture 24/7'.  Why? Well, the first half of that quote is that you "Must be a student of the Word 24/7". You study God's Word so that you grow in your understanding of truth. You study the culture because ff you want to share the Word you need to do it in a manner that is culturally sensitive and adapted.  I don't want to look like a redneck amongst a bunch of feminine ladies.
Us now
Me this past Monday with some ladies from the Gym
When we get visitors, individuals and groups, I once again notice this.  Canadian visitors always wear shorts, they do not wear shorts here (unless at the beach).  Canadians dress much more casually than their Mexican counterparts.  We (or is that they?) wear sandals (casual, sporty ones, not dress ones).  Woman here are very 'made up' where as their Canadian counterparts are more 'au natural'.  It is striking to observe your own culture through the eyes of your new one.

When young people come here, youth groups (even our kids), I am once again startled by the contrast. Canadian kids dress VERY casually, where Mexican youth (middle class for sure) dress more formally. Some of the Canadian youth dress so casually they are almost sloppy.  Mexicans always look sharp, even when the event would be considered informal.  People laughed at my kids when they visited, wearing shorts and sandals.

I think, one thing that does affect clothing is climate. When more of your life is spent in jackets with constant changing weather, you develop a culturally appropriate wardrobe.  If you were to grow up in the tropics, you would have a noticeably different wardrobe.
a very 'normal' Canadian look 
I am not saying one is better than the other, I am just saying that I have noticed the stark difference.  I will say though that the changes in myself and even Ernie have been in an attempt to be 'students of the culture' and I believe that is VERY important.  Not only in apparel, but in all aspects.

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