Sandra CoatesIʼve always loved fashion. If you know me you know I love thrift stores and hand me downs and can be found quoting, “Donʼt let your clothes rule you.” Call me a rebel, but there is just a thrill of cutting and shaping my wardrobe to fit what looks pretty on me rather than being confined to the rules of how they ‘should be wornʼ.

From the time I can remember I had an eye for it. My mom used to tease me that I was notorious for finding the most expensive item in a store without even trying. Since I was young fashion plates were my jam and keeping an eye on the latest styles and trends was a must for me. I wasnʼt ever the most popular girl. I didnʼt even fit in because I was both extremely tall and overweight, but somehow fashion eased some of that for me. As a young girl one of my favorite events was dressing up in my Nanaʼs fancy tweed skirts, high heels, scarves, and hats. The best part was sitting at her vanity in front of the big oval mirror and opening all the drawers of jewelry box treasures and trying all of them on. As I looked in that mirror at the finished look—my huge clip-on earrings squeezing my earlobes—I remember feeling like a queen. It was magical feeling that free and lovely in this temporary new version of me.

One of the challenges I faced was finding “cool” clothes that fit me. Years back there were not exceptions for my body size or trendy clothing lines for ‘bigger girlsʼ. It was a label I could not escape and led to lots of tears,  anxiety, shame and often wanting to hide at an early age. I had a problem with how my body looked, and it deeply affected how I saw myself. I listened to the culture, and I looked to others for my image. How could I be made in the image of God with a world that didnʼt have a mold for me to fit into? Fashion seemed to help mask the wounded parts and soften the blows of relentless questions about what grade I was really in or why I was so big for my age. Underneath it all, when I really looked at myself in the mirror, I wanted so badly to be someone else. I wanted to be that petite, pretty, confident girl who seemed to feel blissful in her skin and warm the hearts of those around her. At times I felt like I had a ‘diseaseʼ that I just had to live with, and I didnʼt think God cared or could use it for anything good. Good thing I didnʼt know the end.

The questions for all of us become, “What if we dictated fashion as an outward expression of an inward beauty instead of it dictating us? Better yet, what if we could know our unique body type, skin color and style was for a beautiful purpose and live in the comfort of our own skin? What if looking and feeling our best was not only when we got all dressed up or were the ‘perfect sizeʼ but how we felt everyday?”

Many years later, I still love fashion. However, my whole belief system and image of myself is brand new because of a God who was not afraid to walk me thru my shame, insecurity and self loathe. Its a forever dance we play but He never gets tired of me and my whispers of the same doubts. The Bible says “We all with unveiled faces reflect the Lordʼs glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory.” (2 Corinthians 3Z18). There is no distinction of color, size, age, beauty, culture or status.

So if there is truly nothing more beautiful than God and we are called to reflect that beauty, then maybe what the world really needs is what we already have. The Truth is we already possess all the beauty and confidence we need. It has been there since the beginning. If we believe that then maybe—just maybe—we can chose to dictate fashion instead of it defining or dictating us.

-Sandra Coates

Sandra Coates Sandra Coates Sandra is a RN and works with women in unplanned pregnancies. She is also a pastor’s wife, women’s ministry leader, speaker and model. She is passionate about every woman knowing her God given beauty and living confident and free. Read more about Sandra.
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