I had completely forgotten the fashion axiom that you’re not “supposed” to wear white after Labor Day. So the concept surprised me when it came up in conversation over the recent holiday weekend, in comments like this: “I thought I’d wear these white shoes while I can, since I can’t wear them after Monday.” Which got me thinking about other “white” traditions: the January “White Sale” (invented by a department store guy in 1878,) classic traditions governing sports uniforms (home whites vs. away stripes,) and of course, the “white wedding.”
The tradition of brides wearing white dates to the 1840 wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. What started out as a fashion-related emulation of the queen morphed over time into an industry standard. Also, somewhere along the way, the white dress came to symbolize the virginal purity of the bride.
In the brilliant (and testosterone-heavy) 1988 baseball romantic comedy “Bull Durham”, the only significant two women characters are the team groupies: Annie Savoy and Millie (who doesn’t seem to have a last name.) Annie and Millie find purpose in life in their um…involvement…with various members of the Durham Bulls minor league baseball team. Annie, who teaches juco English part-time, is also a philosopher.
While being fitted for her wedding dress, Millie has one of those self-shaming sinking spells we all experience, and uneasily asks, “Annie, do you think I deserve to wear white?” Annie’s reply: “Honey, we all deserve to wear white.”
This is a true saying, and worthy of all to be received. We all deserve to wear white.
Why do we doubt this? Why is it so hard to let go of our screw-ups and come face to face with our wonderfulness? Why do I doubt that I am not only fearfully and wonderfully made but the apple of God’s eye? Whatever the heck that means, I really like it. Especially since it promises protection under God’s wing.
Don’t confront me with my failures/I had not forgotten them. (Jackson Browne)
Maybe that’s it. Maybe we are fundamentally so used to feeling unprotected and out there on our own–vulnerable to attack and unmet needs–that we forget our worth. We forget that we all deserve to wear white, no matter what. No matter what–no matter what things are done or left undone: our lives, our very souls, are of infinite value. Researcher and story-teller Brene Brown has done us all a huge favor by studying this very topic: how shame keeps us from being vulnerable (in a good way) and keeps us from knowing who we truly are. She says: “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
May God send you an angel today to remind you that you are precious,
infinitely valuable, and irreplaceable. And may you believe it.
When something goes wrong
I’m the first to admit it
I’m the first to admit it
But the last one to know
when something goes right
Well it’s likely to lose me
It’s apt to confuse me
It’s such an unusual sight
I can’t get used to something so right
Something so right (Paul Simon)
PS: I’ll bet you didn’t know that Emily Post–who died in 1960–has a website. Here is what she has to say about the No-White-After-Labor-Day tradition.
PPS: Also, if you have an extra 3:29, click here for the wondrous, 1982-flavored “White Wedding” from Billy Idol.