Weird stories can occur suddenly. They sometimes sneak up uninvited and freak you out. Allow me to share just that sort of story.
In the quiet New Mexico town where I grew up, there was a tiny cafe grill across the street from the junior high. It was called “The Little Store” and served burgers and fries to school kids and oil field workers. It also had a hefty candy counter which allowed us to sneak boston baked beans and lemonheads during class in the afternoons.
At least once a week, word would spread that there was going to be a fight in the alley behind The Little Store. Sometimes no one show up and sometimes the cops would. The girl fights were always the most exciting with all the hair pulling and scratching and what not. I was terrified through junior high that something I might say would cause someone to throw down the challenge to meet them behind The Little Store.
I’m 47 years old and haven’t lived in New Mexico for almost 30 years but last week it finally happened. The Internet challenged me to a fight. My words were about something as benign as leggings. A lighthearted post about a fashion trend. I sent these words out to a teeny tiny group of friends and family that sometimes read The Story Place blog. I was horrified when last Friday that naively safe bubble ripped open and the world of commenters said “HEY LADY! NOBODY TELLS ME WHAT TO WEAR! MEET ME BEHIND THE LITTLE STORE!”
To suggest modesty is obviously fightin’ words.
The fight started in the halls of the comment section until I got overwhelmed and simply stopped approving all of them, pro and con leggings alike. But that just took the fight out into the alley off school grounds. Two incredibly polarized sides emerged behind the scenes of my little wordpress site.
People. I usually have 0-3 comments per post. This viral wave of comments and shares that rose like a tsunami of public opinion has left me wide-eyed and quite frankly puzzled. It is comical that this has happened over my words. My personality and nature is to run from controversy which makes me incredibly uncomfortable and this event all the more curious.
Thank goodness the internet’s attention has the shortest of all spans.
I’m getting older and learning to be bolder and wiser about my words. Trying to be brave and not hold back when something bubbles up and taps at my heart to share. I’m trying to build guardrails for three children in a generation where society says there are no rules. Parenting is hard. Aging is dicey. Life is messy.
I posted those leggings thoughts to simply get the discussions I’ve had with so many over the past month out in the air. An attempt at saying with a grin, “Is it just me, or have we gone too far?…” If I had known so many visitors would have dropped by, I would have tidied up a bit! I wish I had spent more time editing. Yes, America, I know it is “you’re” not “your”. I would have been a tad bit more specific that I was making fun of myself and not anyone else, including southerners, of which I am one.
I’m sticking by my opinion though. Obviously this post landed squarely on an “exposed” nerve. As in any fight, there is usually a deeper issue, a deeper hurt that triggers strong words in response. After reading over 600 comments on this topic I realize this response is soooo not about leggings. It’s about your right to choose, about body image and modesty. And I am hereby choosing not to referee this debate. My intention was never to judge or, God forbid shame, anyone. My intent was simply to suggest that perhaps a line needs to be redrawn.
It is good to remember that our stories collide and intersect in a constant dance of humanity. Your decisions have consequences. That is not an opinion. It is fact.
If you are reading this blog for the first time, welcome. I love to share and collect stories that inspire and encourage. Our stories matter. All sizes, shape and color of emotion. Most important, I have found life to be most rewarding, most precious and meaningful when lived according to the will of our Great Storyteller, our Abba Father. I hope He is honored in this space.