Several months ago, I bought the rose-patterned tights. I don’t know why exactly, except that patterned tights intrigued me and I was just taking my first baby steps into a world where I admit that I want to look beautiful and I want to dress well, vulnerable as it still makes me feel to say so.
So I bought the tights, and though it took me more than a month to put them on, eventually I wore them to a coffee shop with a friend. She took some photos of me that day because she is a star-fire soul who sees beauty everywhere and embraces it and scatters it abroad, and later I posted one of those photos on social media. Some days afterwards I was told by someone dear to my heart whose opinions I respect that those tights looked like something a prostitute would wear.
That was fun.
I didn’t wear them again for a while after that. But they were still pretty and I still liked them, and my husband liked them. So on my birthday, when he took me out for brunch and coffee, I wore my rose-patterned tights. It was just us. It felt safe. I felt beautiful.
And then last weekend, we went to a marriage seminar and on the second day I wore them again. Several beautiful women gave me compliments on them, but although words of encouragement is a spiritual gift and it was healing to hear that, especially from women, that isn’t why I dress up.
The seminar ended on Sunday afternoon with a time to recommit ourselves to our spouse and then a celebration. We dressed up. At lunchtime, one of the new friends I made over the weekend, a lovely little mother of five, asked me a bit shyly if I was planning to wear my tights that evening. She wanted to borrow them. When I gave them to her, she cried, and she said to me that she was going to please her husband so much that evening.
And I was so deeply honored, but I didn’t fully understand why until later, after three things happened.
The first was seeing her that evening, wearing a little dress her husband had given to her and heels and those tights. She was beautiful the entire weekend, but that evening she carried herself a little differently. It’s not that the clothes gave her confidence, but maybe the decision to put them on did. Diligence brings confidence, and she was diligent in preparing herself as a bride for her husband that evening. It was a gift to me that I got to be a small part of it.
The second was talking about it with my husband, and him telling me that he was proud of me, he was proud of the fact that by choosing to dress up I had empowered another woman to feel beautiful for her husband. And I understood why it moved me – because I know how powerful it is to feel beautiful for my husband and I know how deeply it hurt when I did not.
The third was the next day when I started writing about it, because it is when I am writing things out that God speaks to me. And He reminded me of how He knows that I still struggle with the old programming which says external beauty is dangerous and prideful, and that the only kind of beauty that is acceptable to God is inner beauty – because He’s not the one who invented needlessly gorgeous sunsets and the muscled arms of men and the graceful curves of women and the elaborate tail of a peacock, right?
And He said to me then, Who else could have orchestrated it so that the first piece of clothing that you felt attacked and shamed for wearing was also the first piece that flowed through you to lift up another woman?
That is why. That is why I dress up, and why I have to be okay with you not always liking the way I look. Because yes, it’s fun and being diligent in the way I present myself has given me new levels of confidence and that has done amazing things for our marriage – and honestly, that could be enough reason for me. That is why I started.
But I won’t stop because that isn’t all. Because maybe there are others like me. Maybe I’m not the only woman who knows the feeling of having nothing to offer my husband except my intelligence or my usefulness. Maybe I’m not the only one who knows what it is to see no beauty in myself to give to him.
And that kills a woman from the inside.
So if I can help one other wife step from the death of that lie into the power and life of her gift of beauty, I will dress up til the day I die.
Because that is who we were created to be.