what are you thinking?

You know you will be ok, look he is wearing a hoodie so he is cool and so the group will be fine.

This statement was made in front of me and I was not sure whether to be happy or upset that such a comment was made. Initially, I was quite pleased that a parent was encouraging their child to the youth group that I lead on a voluntary basis, but as the statement sunk in, I realised how poor a statement that it was.

1) wearing a hoodie does not determine the value of anything.  All it says is that the individual is wearing a hoodie.

2) being ‘cool’ was an expression from the 80’s, I am in my 40s’, being ‘cool’ is not even close.  Makes me want to puke!

3) the value of the group is nothing to do with the clothing choices of the members/leaders – it is based on the quality of the relationships that the group develops

The list could go on – the utterances of this parent make me shudder – the good news is that the member settled in well, contributes to the group and has strong relationships with others.  On the other hand, my hoodie tops do not get worn as often!

the need for dress to impress

The cultural norm is that we have a dress code for certain events or activities.  The older generations would usually point to a decline in ‘standards’ for the way people dress, what they really mean is that people dress in a different way.

In one office, the staff normally dress ‘smart but casual’, so it is shirts and open collars.  However, one day many staff members came in with ties and jackets leaving just one person in the usual attire.  He was feeling put out when he recognised that he was the only one who had not dressed up for a senior management meeting but that changed when one of the staff said;

you can think of it another way, you have no need to dress to impress, you are confident in your own skin and more certain of who you are.

What wise and powerful words.  Whilst I do not advocate scruffy dressing (whatever that may be!), hearing this story helped me realise that it is not my dress code that will help me to impress others, it is the confidence in who I am, in my words and actions.