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The Clothing Season: Charity Shopping

October 21, 2011
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Thanks to Sally for these thoughts. I have to say that of all the contributions so far, these struck me as having a particular care and authenticity. I am challenged!

This is actually something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. Due to the fact that I’m always broke and can never find clothes I like (or which are ethical) on the high street I recently made an active decision to only buy second hand clothes. I work in a charity shop, which means this is probably easier and less time consuming for me than for others and I feel considerably happier that my money is going to a charity which aims to help local deprived communities rather than to some big corporation which is exploiting hundreds of people. I have managed to find some lovely articles of clothing which are quirky and unique and much more suited to me than anything I could currently buy new! (I also know that no one else will be wearing the same thing as me!) Having said that, I also believe it is essential for us to campaign for change within the clothing industry and not just avoid it – the people who make our clothes deserve a fair wage.

The passage in Matthew about not worrying about what we wear has been particularly relevant to me in recent months as on a few occasions I have been in a situation where my last remaining skirt has fallen apart or I have no shoes that aren’t full of holes and I’ve really just had to trust that God would look after me and provide both the money and the clothes I need! I may have had to go around with wet feet for a couple of weeks on some occasions, and I spent most of last winter without a coat, but in general God has looked after me and I know that He will continue to do so! (And being slightly wet and cold is nothing compared to the way some people live – at least I work and live in warm, dry buildings so the lack of coat was nowhere near as bad as it could have been!)

About a year ago in our church someone spoke on Romans 12:2 – ‘Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ It was a very challenging message which pointed out a number of areas where we all tend to conform without realising it. I think one of the ways we do this is in relation to clothes – I find it very easy to envy what other people are wearing and to forget that the body is more than clothes (Luke 12:22).

However, I also believe that the way we dress can be a form of art and self expression, I just think we need to be careful what values we are expressing (wearing clothes which advertise brands who we know do not deal ethically with their workers, or not following the command to dress modestly for example). It is important to celebrate our diversity in fashion, not condemn each other. I heard recently that non uniform days at school tend to be the worst attended in the school year – we are taught to judge each other on how we look from a very young age which is incredibly sad…

OK, so I’m really challenegd to try the charity option more than I currently do.  I think there’s definitely an important point about diversity, too. Is my clothing the symbol of a transformed mind, or an indicator that I’m conforming to the pattern of this world?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Eileen Padmore permalink
    October 22, 2011 5:30 pm

    Thanks Sally. I have found this very challenging and worthy of much reflection…….

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