Sunday, September 28, 2008

Lipstick on My Collar-- Updated

My own--- I don't kiss anyone who wears lipstick.

I read somewhere this week that a clergy collar has one very specific meaning: it is meant to represent the chains of slavery, because clergy serve their master, Jesus Christ.

I have to admit: I did not know that.

I wear clergy shirts on Sunday mornings, and for funerals and (most) weddings, too. I wear them because they are a uniform... not a required one, to be sure. Many Presbyterian ministers opt not to wear clericals, thought I do think it is the norm to wear a robe (with or without stole) for preaching (I wear these as well). I wear a collar because it signifies a particular role I play in worship leadership. I preach, I preside at sacraments. A collar lends a kind of gravitas to my appearance, and I think that is appropriate to these functions.

But I also wear lipstick on Sunday mornings (and for funerals and weddings). Nothing about gravitas where lipstick is concerned. In fact, recently I put on my clergy shirt (and other clothing), applied my lipstick, neatened up my lipstick by running my finger along the vermilion border, and then, apparently, touched my collar again... because the next time I looked in the mirror, there was a pink smudge on the white. Not cool.

Now I am wondering about the theology of the collar, and whether I have given it due honor. Should one wear lipstick with a collar? I wonder... now that I know what it represents. Anyone? Collar wearers? Non-collar wearers? What do you think?

And also... those of you who are not clergy... what do you think when you see a collar? What associations do you have with it? Good, bad, indifferent? I'm curious...

Part of the question for me has to do with authority. I grew up in a tradition that said I was not allowed to wear the collar, and I wonder whether my embracing it is all tied up in my defiance of that tradition.



Anonymous said...

I do not wear a collar and I'm not part of the clergy, but may I suggest a sheer color or just gloss with a hint of color that compliments your skin tone,eyes and hair color?

I just feel a little undressed without something on my lips. Silly, isn't it?

Magdalene6127 said...

DCup, I think that is a good suggestion. When I was 12 I read an article in a teen magazine that said if you leave the house without lip (gloss or something) or earrings, you might as well go out naked. Well, I absorbed this wisdom into my very bones, and I believe it!

I should have been clearer... in fact, I think I'll do a little edit. I'm interested in hearing from people who are not clergy on this too. What does the collar mean to you when you see it?

Anonymous said...

Magdalene- What does the collar mean to me?

As a non-believer, that can be a difficult question. Is it like a doctor's scrubs? A hardhat? Is it simply a part of a uniform? I guess for some people it could be.

I'm lucky enough to know people who use their faith not as a bludgeon or shield, but as an extended hand and an umbrella. Does that make sense?

For you, I see the collar as an achievement and a promise and a symbol of your faith and the commitment to spread god's word and to live the example. It's not a fence so much as it is a pathway.

I hope that explains it. I guess the person who wears the collar gets to define it.

(And I'm with you on lipstick on or off the collar, preferably not on the collar, only on the lips.)

Presbyterian Welcome said...

chains of slavery? are you for real? oh my.

Choralgirl said... a non-clerical type, my response to the "what does the collar mean to you" question is multifaceted.

When I was a kid, it meant "behave."

I've got some unchurched friends who would avoid anyone in a collar, either because it's sort of quaint or because they've got a hair trigger response to the pontification they're sure will be theirs if they get too close.

Now it means Seriously Religious, But Probably Not a Fundalit. (Our local RC archbishop excepted...)

It also means "friend" because I have so many clergy friends; "envy" because I'd like to spend all my "work" energy in such a way; "safe" because of the good counsel I've received from thoughtful people who wear those collars; "colleague" because we're on the same "team;" as well as Exegete, Team Leader, Shepherd, God's Representative (ooo...careful there!).

This does not land me squarely in the center of the conversation, I realize. :-)

I think a photo of the smudged collar could be used at the front of a couple of different hypotheical magazine articles: 1) We've Come a Long Way, Pastor; 2) Pastors and Those Who Love Them.

Real answer: the lipsticky collar is a good sign to me--means that women wear them, which is right and good.

But it'd still serve as the cover for a novel about a torrid affair with a clergy person. Bwa ha ha.

JemB said...

Sorry I'm commenting so late.

First, as a very non-churchy person, and as one who was afraid of priests when I was a little girl in a catholic family, I don't like seeing them. They seem uncomfortably authoritarian. But I have a problem with authority, anyway. Now, as a non-Christian, slightly-less-afraid adult, they don't hold any particular meaning for me.

And, on a strictly esthetic level, I think they are so unattractive. So unflattering! Especially if you have not been blessed with a willowy, swan-like neck.

About the lipstick, I am a full-on supporter of lipstick. In fact, it was Magdalene herself who converted me, back about 29 years ago in our college days. When I first met her and fell in like with her, she was the one to convince me that one was naked without lipstick. I feel the same exact way to this day, all these years later.

I suppose that does contradict with the collar as slave thing, but then, I don't like that metaphor at all. A loving and devoted servant who receives her own kind of compensation is very different from a slave.

My two cents.