by Arielle Rothbard
As a Messianic believer at Manhattan’s Fashion Institute of Technology, I sometimes struggle with tensions that arise between my love of fashion and my faith. A summer internship with Jews for Jesus gave me an opportunity to reflect on this (among other things) and to share my thoughts with you.
Fashion reflects the times. It reflects the political, economic, socio-cultural, and even technological matters of a given age. Wars begin, then cease. Stock markets plummet, then boom. Synthetic fibers are invented. Women’s rights increase. These issues affect what designers create.
New trends are old ideas reinvented. Color, line and texture change with each season. This fall, high-waisted skirts and pants replace low-rise, lighter-weight dresses substitute heavier ones, fall florals make an entrance, and quirky feather-accented hats, rather than plain, stride from the runway into stores, whetting the consumer’s appetite for change.
Fashion is evolutionary, not revolutionary.” Fashion adapts. People long to be beautiful, and fashion perpetuates itself by recreating our perceptions of what beauty is.
So where does that craving for beauty originate? With God, the source and embodiment of beauty. He instilled in us a desire for beauty so we would seek Him, and our ability to create beauty is a way to bring Him glory.
Unlike fashion, God is immutable (James 1:17). He is revolutionary, not evolutionary. He dramatically changes us, making us more like Him, yet He remains unchanged.
Faith is embracing God as He reveals Himself to us through the Bible, through His creation, and through personal encounter (Ephesians 4:4-5). Faith—always cutting-edge— challenges the lost, both in the fashion industry and out, to serve our Maker. It inspires self-expression and variety in creative projects. And, like a classic style, faith stands the test of time.
Faith is a “faux pas” in the fashion industry. It unabashedly calls us to whole-heartedly serve God rather than self. Our God dictates modesty, sobriety and humility. In an industry geared toward success, extremes, and appearance, faith is tougher to embrace than denim overalls with stiletto heels.
Purveyors of fashion seek to capitalize on our longing for beauty by satisfying it temporarily; they provide an onslaught of pricey clothing that falls out of fashion before you can even launder it. People offer products for prices. God gives Himself: a constant, fulfilling, priceless gift.
We can always learn new things about God, not because He changes, but because our capacity to understand Him grows as we exercise our faith. Once we see that God fills us, that His beauty is matchless and eternal and far weightier than any earthly pleasure, then fashion can find a healthy place in the lives of those of us who enjoy it. When we center on God, our hobbies become just that: an activity engaged in for pleasure and relaxation during spare time.
Faith is not a fad. It’s timeless. Our unchanging God is in control of politics, the economy, society, technology and culture. You don’t need to read the color-forecasting catalogs to know that His every design will reach fruition in His perfect time.
Editor’s Note: During the school year, Arielle interns at our New York branch, located just across town from her school. She utilizes her artistic gifts around our center—mainly by designing and building the evangelistic displays for our storefront window. Please pray for God’s continued guidance for Arielle’s life and for her ministry in providing thought-provoking displays for those who pass by our New York center. Please also pray for her story at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where many of the students and faculty are Jewish, born-again believers are a minority, and Jews who believe in Jesus are as rare as Chanel suits at Old Navy.