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Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with my college final project, but I just thought that was an appropriate graphic to accompany this post.

It’s seems so tragic to think that a lot of us women view beauty as our crown of glory—the thing that dictates our sense of value and worth. It’s interesting to think that even the most beautiful women feel insecure because they know that their beauty doesn’t last forever and is also surrounded by constant competition. Even when beauty is said to be subjective, you can’t deny the fact that the majority of people can come to a consensus as to what is beautiful and what is not. There comes a point when you’re just hit by reality, when mantras and self-help books stop uplifting your spirits, and you’re left feeling helpless, defeated by the world, and devoid of worth.

This is the kind of feeling I’ve been struggling with my whole life, and not surprisingly, many others go through the same thing. I’ve gotten a lot better since my teenage years. Wearing sexy clothes and involving myself in the beach and clubbing culture helped my self-esteem temporarily, but it also made me feel like I was only going to be happy if I were sought after for my appearance. I was rather spoiled by it. I got so used to getting compliments about my appearance that if I didn’t get any, I’d feel extremely unhappy. I got compliments left and right from different men, but I only really wanted to be truly appreciated by one.

When I got married, there began the switch in my priorities. I only wanted to please one man, and compliments from others stopped mattering. I used to bathe in and revisit the moments when other people praised me, but I am not that kind of person anymore. I don’t even really feel good about some other guy clearly expressing his approval of me even publicly and in front of my husband, which has happened a few times.

Because my source for my sense of worth has been consolidated to getting the approval of only one man, I get shattered by the fact that my husband still gets tempted by images of other women regardless of how giving I am and how much I keep up with my appearance. I sometimes reminisce about the times I used to wear sexy clothes with a group of girls when we went out or the times that I used to dance hula, which lasted for two years, all to make myself feel better (or worse), however temporarily—when I feel like I’m not good enough for my husband. Those things just never do it. They just help to keep my mind away from issues for a while, but they don’t really alter my mind for the better.

The sad reality is that everyone gets tempted regardless of how good they have it with their spouses or any other type of relationship. Some give in a little and then hold back, and some give in more and more and do not hold back. To hold back at all from temptation is a good thing. Just because temptation creeps up, it doesn’t mean the person experiencing it has done something unworthy of forgiveness and trust. However, I’ve held myself up to an impossible standard, a Utopian dream that was never meant to be and could never be a reality—a world virtually without sin, especially within my home. Even God would laugh at me for thinking that this is possible.

It’s extremely hard for me to keep writing about modesty and sexual purity with my defeatist and existentialist tendencies. The automatic response for me when I get faced with the overwhelming display of sexuality all around is my wishing to be dead or to just completely give in to sin. Neither of those thoughts are healthy or helpful in any way. I really can’t help feeling so downtrodden when I know there’s really nothing I can do to stop everything that is wrong in this world. It’s just not possible to completely eradicate everything that is bad, and I certainly shouldn’t feel defeated if I can’t stop an impossible thing. I shouldn’t feel like the whole world’s burden is on me or feel like I am somewhat responsible for cleaning up the mess. This seems to happen when God is taken out of the “moral” picture, which is a dangerous thing, because that can never work. That also doesn’t mean, however, that I shouldn’t try to change the things that can be changed—myself for instance, or a few people who might be open to change. I guess that’s why this blog has stuck around.

 “A utopia is a dystopia forced upon you by a madman.
– Sam J. Lundwall, from Utopia – Dystopia: Nedslag i framtidens politiska historia

 


There are few things that people tend to say about their families. Some of us say we have families and are more than comfortable with them; some of us really believe that we have none (but we all know that’s unlikely because distant relatives are family too), and some of us just willfully don’t want to have anything to do with our own families. The latter seems harsh, but once you get to know the reasons behind some of our cold and distant attitudes toward familial ties, the more you realize that the meaning behind the saying “blood is thicker than water” doesn’t always ring true in every relationship. It sure is the best scenario to have  your relationship with your family be the strongest. There’s always that instant biological bond—that familiarity since birth that no one else will have with you besides your own blood. However, how many times have you heard of legitimately abusive fathers, apathetic mothers, and… evil twins? Unfortunately for some of us, families are not always our strongest ally.

This realization however does not make friends, colleagues, and coworkers immediately more akin to you, unless you testify as such. There lies the danger in generalization. That is why up until a certain point in my life, I’ve come to take the ever popular maxim blut ist dicker als Wasser (the origin is German) as something very relative and only true to some. Whenever I talk about my own relatives, it somehow shames me to freely express my hurts and disappointments with them. I think that is because somehow, somewhere, some smarty pants thought of writing about how broken families produce unstable people, and enough people bought into that lie. So whenever a poor soul expresses their being hurt for years by their family, the listening party despises the victim for not being right with their family and pities them. I must say, though, that in any kind of relationship, we all must work very hard and patiently to get it right. The loving effort must be there, and one must always be willing to forgive and reconcile with a repentant relative. However, some things are beyond our control, and acts of reconciliation aren’t perceived.

I’ve got way too many hurts from my own family to even know how to begin sharing them. I just know that I’ve done my part to love them. I’ve stopped pursuing them not because I’m emotionally exhausted but because I’ve done what I could, and it’s up to them to change their ways. What I’m saying probably sounds very common, but I think what is uncommon for a lot of people is the ability to partake in peaceful confrontation. Hiding from people to avoid confrontation or refusing to even hear what they have to say does not solve anything and only makes things worse. We’ve all got some sense of pride, and withholding someone from trying to be on good terms with you by avoiding them is feeding power to that monstrous pride. This action has little or nothing to do with the gravity of that person’s fault and more to do with one’s own greed. I have to admit that when I refuse to talk to someone because of what that person did to me, I feel somewhat powerful by punishing that person through shutting them out and remaining silent. Nobody who is willing and actively pursuing the ability  to make amends deserves that kind of punishment. Once you refuse to talk to the person confronting you to talk things out, you immediately become at fault for prolonging the problem and making it worse. Sadly, very seldom do people really understand this. I tend to brush this valuable piece of conflict resolution off at times myself, because it is easier to just not do anything.

If you placed me right next to my family for examination, you’d also be able to tell that I’m an apple that fell far from the tree—another expression turned around. Probably the only thing that really stands out as a similarity is the way we all look. I fortunately don’t act, speak, or think like they. It’s really odd.

I thought it was kind of interesting that I took these photos in my family’s old house as I was visiting about a month ago (as you can see, it is empty and ready to be moved into by the next owner).  Some of their stuff is still there, like that lamp and the vintage collage of my grandparents and their kids you can see in every reflection.

Well, there you have it. This post really cannot have a proper ending without the help of my family doing their part to fix the problem. I’m just going to leave this like an open-ended European movie, with the underlying theme of proper confrontation and communication as its main message. I’m just waiting for a deux ex machina…

What I Wore: Nine West pumps, a vintage red dress (label was torn) that I wore as a blouse, Talbots skirt

By David Gasten, producer of Vintage Music compilation This is Vintage Now

Why do we come to Vintage? The answer is very simple:  we come here to escape. When we pick up old magazines like Collier’s or Life, watch movies like Casablanca or The Seven Year Itch, or listen to music like Louis Prima or Julie London, it takes us to an alternate way of living that is similar to what we experience today, but better. It has many of the modern amenities that we have grown accustomed to, but there’s something fresh, invigorating and exciting in that old way of doing things that is a huge sigh of relief from the feeling of being sandblasted over and over by the same old cookie-cutter swill like we are used to today.

Furthermore, we see people having understanding conversations instead of looking for opportunities to be offended. We find appliances and clothing that are built to last instead of to be thrown away. We see people building lifelong friendships and strong communities instead of going through other people like candy in the quest to feed their narcissism. And, my favorite part, we see beautiful, confident ladies being treated like the queens and princesses they are, by gentlemen who are manly and strong, but also civilized and kind.  With all of this to offer, who wouldn’t want to escape to Vintage?

But here’s the dirty little secret to all this.  In order to truly and fully embrace Vintage, you have to embrace it from the inside out, otherwise it’s nothing more than a costume party. It is the values of the period that made them what they are; the artifacts are nothing more than the fruit of the tree.  Think about it: if someone is full of themselves and condescending to you, are you going to like them more just because they are wearing a 1950’s outfit?  Probably not.  And yet that “costume party” issue is exactly the hurdle that the new Vintage Movement will need to overcome if it is going to be anything more than another silly fad. However, if we who are into Vintage can embrace the Vintage values first and let that guide us as we bring back and build upon what our grandparents left us, I am convinced that we will instead have a solid alternate culture that will be here to stay and will give current raunch culture a serious, pants-down run for its money.

Vintage Music (current and previous) is my specialty, and I got into it thanks to the 1990’s Swing Revival. The Nineties Swing Revival is actually a very good example of a movement that did not embrace the previous period from the inside out, and quickly tanked because of it.  In the wake of its failure, I have devoted a large portion of my time studying what went wrong and learning from this cautionary tale.  I launched a jump blues-style group called David Gasten & the City Kids that has sought to tap into what originally got people dancing and socializing, and bring that to today’s listeners without trying to be punk or some other current style. How we do this is by understanding what the original period was like AND understanding what people want and are used to today, and then finding the common ground between the two.  We stay grounded in the original spirit of the period and its way of doing things, whilst projecting forward as though we were an artist from the time projecting themselves into the current day. We call this way of doing things “Vintage Now”.

While I was planning the recording sessions that produced our song “The Deacon Don’t Like It”, I found a number of other artists that are exciting and have that same “Vintage Now” way of doing things that we do, only in other Vintage-style genres.  I also found original period artists like 1950’s jazz vocalist Beverly Kenney that are very compatible to the current day, but allow us to listen to the music of the time with fresh ears, therefore helping to bring the period back alive even more.  I got the idea to bring these artists together under one umbrella, and came up with a name off the top of my head: This is Vintage Now.

This is Vintage Now just came out on CDBaby as an MP3 album on June 21st, 2011.  Already we have received responses that the compilation is getting people excited about new music again, and are receiving reviews that state that it holds its own with the classics of the period—VERY high praise indeed that is really touching to receive.  To make things even more impressive, a number of those comments are coming from living music celebrities from a host of different genres—check out the Endorsements Page on our website to see what we mean.

And speaking of This is Vintage Now’s website, we went really over the top with the website!  We went out of our way to make it an information and resource site for not only This is Vintage Now and its artists, but for Vintage Music and The Vintage Movement as a whole. We wanted people to feel good when they read the site, and we wanted it to just seethe quality, passion, and substance, whilst being fully informative and entertaining.  And again, it appears that we accomplished our objective, although we ask that you be the final judge. We’ve got pages for all of the artists on the compilation, including living jazz legend Big Jay McNeely, current Dutch hitmaker Caro Emerald, 20-year-old Australian chanteuse Ilana Charnelle, and my own group David Gasten & the City Kids to name a few.  We have articles about Louis Prima (“Jump Jive, an’ Wail”) and Bill Haley (“Rock Around the Clock”) with Youtube Videos and loads of VERY rare information about both.  And we have a Vintage Links resource page that samples some of the best in what’s available in Vintage Music and Vintage Lifestyle today. It’s very much like falling down the rabbit hole.

For those who bristle at the thought of embracing the values of the Vintage period, take the time to throw the “oppressed” caricatures aside, and really try to understand the underlying values as portrayed in the magazines, movies, music, and TV shows of the period.  You will find out that they are largely based in simple common sense. The concepts of genuine communication and mutual respect permeate the period, as do the concepts of ladies and gentlemen. Music embraced a true integration of the races in jazz and rock n’ roll, and that would roll over into the culture as a whole with time.  Music and pop culture in general centered a LOT around women, but as whole people, not as packages of body parts whose full identity hinges on their performance as sex objects as we see today. Look again, and take it in as a whole, and I think you’ll be surprised.  And if you find something that’s not perfect, spit out the bones and eat the meat, don’t damn the culture as a whole because of one problem.  Vintage people (i.e. our grandparents and great-grandparents) are/were people too, and we can always improve upon what they left us with as long as we understand and embrace their culture first.

This is Vintage Now, both the compilation itself and the companion website, was only made possible from embracing those values. Embracing the artifacts but not the values is nothing but a costume party, and the fact that it is fake and insincere at its core will come out sooner or later, as it always has in the past. There really is no other way, or else the other way would have worked by now.

 

This is Vintage Now is available at CDBaby, iTunes, and Amazon.com MP3. Visit the compilation’s official website at http://www.thisisvintagenow.com.

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