Sunday, November 05, 2006

What's a Girl to Do?

I could as well have titled this post What's the Anglican Communion's Very First Female Primate to Do? Or maybe Damned if You Do and Damned if You Don't.

I was a bit dismayed a few days ago when Elizabeth critiqued ++Katharine's decision to wear slacks when visiting the Archbishop of Canterbury. Elizabeth wished ++Katharine had worn a long, flowing skirt instead of the slacks she wore. I'll confess: When I first read Elizabeth's comments, I thought, "How trite!" But then I had to admit to myself that I had had the same thought. I mean, for a woman to get into the Old Boys' Club that is the leadership of the Anglican Communion, must she wear slacks? In my secret heart, I too wished she had worn a beautiful skirt or dress that would accentuate the very beautiful woman she is.

Then I got to thinking further, and felt tremendous compassion for our ++Katharine. Think about it. Men don't have to agonize over wide options in their mode of dress. The choices are pretty narrow. It's basically just three decisions. First, suit or slacks and sport coat? Second, which color? And the only acceptable colors are black, charcoal, grey, and navy. And finally, regular tie or bowtie?

But it is not so simple for women. Our options are almost innumerable. However much we may wish it were not so, every clothing decision is a sort of "statement." I face this quandary every time I have a big event to attend, such as a wedding or funeral, and I stand in front of the closet for much, much longer than I care to admit. Will it be a dress? skirt, blouse, and jacket? or slacks? If skirt, will I opt for one of those "girl suits" that apes the men's suits? or opt for a more creative mix of colors and styles?

I suspect men approaching the closet on the morning of an important meeting simply have to decide where on the range of black-charcoal-navy they will land. And then choose a tie. I envy the simplicity of their options.

Now, put yourself in the houseshoes of ++Katharine as she must have stood at her closet, faced with the task of packing for Lambeth and a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury. A dizzying array of options must have been available to her. Dress or skirt or slacks? Which color(s)? (For we women have the entire rainbow available to us – not just the black-to-navy spectrum.) Which shoes? -- flats, pumps, or heels? And which accessories? The subdued earrings or the big dangly flashy ones? The poor dear!!

From such multiplicity of options, good Lord deliver us!

So I decided to lighten up. I'm just proud that our ++Katharine remembered to bring enough garments so that she could appear fully clothed in her first meeting with the Archbishop.

What got me to reflecting on all this so many days after the photographs of ++Katharine with ++Griswold and the Archbishop appeared? I thought you'd never ask!

The good folks at Anglicans Online have noted PeaceBang's beauty tips for our new Presiding Bishop. Apparently, PeaceBang is not an Episcopalian, but got excited when +Katharine was elected Presiding Bishop, and offers "beauty tips" for the Anglican Communion's first female primate. PeaceBang's comments are so not politically correct – but they made me laugh anyway. And the comments that follow PeaceBang's initial post are equally amusing.

From the fripperies of fashion, good Lord deliver ++Katharine!


Blogger Gospel Band said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/05/2006 10:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Do you realise how:
1. mind-numbingly boring mens' clothese are
2. How uncomfortable they can be, especially when it's hot.

I don't know. You get a woman in the top job and you still want to cling on to a victim mentality even over what clothes you think you should wear. If Katharine going to do any good she's going to have to dictate style not follow it.

And anyway, Elizabeth Kaeton has already said she's going to get me the job as Katharine's stylist and, my goodness, does she need one!

11/06/2006 4:53 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

How about a burkah? Good grief.

11/06/2006 1:10 PM  

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