Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Fashion for Compassion - Love Thy Neighbor

Several days ago, I attended my first Muslim fashion show.  The title was called "Fashion for Compassion" and it was geared towards fashions for the modest and conservative woman.  As I got ready for this event, I ignorantly thought that this was going to be like all Dallas fashion events so I got dressed to the nines in high-waisted shorts from Urban Outfitters, a low v-necked blouse by The Limited and studded ankle-strapped heels from Nine West.  Little did I know, one of my many life lessons was lying ahead of me.

Medina Bib Necklace - Stella & Dot, V-Necked Black Blouse - The Limited, Polka Dot Pleated High Waisted Shorts - Urban Outfitters

Studded Ankle-Strapped Heels - Nine West
Upon arrival to the event, I exited my car and entered the event only to be one of the few with excess skin exposed.  Most women were adorned in embellished tunics and floor-length dresses with their heads covered by some of the most beautiful scarves I've ever seen.  Quickly my idea of what was "dressed to the nines" or what was "beautiful" began to change.

I have NEVER committed a fashion violation, as I always adhere to the recommended attire for the event so this was the first time that I needed to be apprehended by the fashion police.  Could it be that I was too self-absorbed to have actually thought that I would have needed to be more modest for this event?  Could it have been that I was too vain to think that at a Muslim fashion event there would still be American-influenced fashion principles, where at times the less clothes you wear the more beautiful or accepted we are?  In that moment, feeling embarrassed was an understatement.  I'm a fashion writer for SEVERAL publications, so committing a fashion violation is not something that I do...but in that moment I was forced to reflect.

Fashion for Compassion, Dallas Contemporary 6/1/2013; Photo Credit: Leah Frazier

Fashion for Compassion, Dallas Contemporary 6/1/2013; Photo Credit: Leah Frazier
As I watched the fashions come down the runway, I was moved to tears.  These women were the epitome of elegance and beauty.  They were confident, vibrant and shining from the inside out.  I wanted to be that woman.  How is it that they were covered from head to toe but some of the most beautiful women that I have ever seen?  They were being seen without being seen (if that makes since.) This is entirely backwards from everything that has been ingrained in my head for all of these years.

Fashion for Compassion taught me above all, compassion and respect for other cultures; that the old saying "Less is More" is so true.  These women were stunning--only showing the outlines of their faces and leaving much to be desired; but this in itself made them goddesses and some of the most gorgeous women I have encountered.

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous... ~1 Peter 3:8
This event started out as just another fashion event that I was covering but literally within hours changed my perception of beauty and what it meant to love my fellow sisters as we all look to achieve the same goals and aspirations for ourselves.  It taught me to step outside of myself, my culture, my spirituality and my lifestyle to embrace others and their quest for self-expression.  Now more than ever, the phrase "Love they neighbor" has taken on a whole new meaning and as I progress through life in this world of fashion and dating, I can rest easy knowing that modesty and conservative approaches with style can speak louder volumes than anything I could have ever imagined.