Saturday, June 12, 2010

My Corrupt Fashion Affair?

My article on about fashion and Judaism stirred a great deal of controversy and criticism due to the fact that many believed that the two were an inappropriate, offensive comparison that didn’t belong in the same breath.

The biting comments that followed made me sick to stomach and humbled me thoroughly. I've heard that you can’t write anything without getting bad rap. Where there’s good press, there’s bad. And where there’s bad, there’s really bad. But if I was wrong and wholly mistaken I wanted to know and stand corrected. At first I was stung but then I couldn’t help but wonder if they were right. Was I completely misguided as to say that a person could be a fashionable Jew? That a person who might normally get revved up about a pair of shoes could channel that excitement toward their Judaism? Or had my readers completely missed the point?

The crucial focal point throughout my article was that, like football or art or really any pastime, fashion is something that is desired and often leaves a trail of followers. The purpose of my article wasn’t to promote fashion worship but to promote the idea that a person could be as excited about Judaism as they are about fashion.

I understand that there are flaws in fashion and I don’t dismiss them. The industry is fickle and immodest, sometimes to the point of immorality. A person could easily get caught up in material, vanity and the shallow belief that exterior appearances are all that matter. One could fall so head over heels in love with fashion to the point of slavery and reject all notion that there is anything more to life than their body.

That is not the aspect of fashion we ought to learn from. Reb Zushe teaches us the that we can learn positive behavior even from a dishonest and completely corrupt individual; from a thief!

Was he suggesting we become thieves?

Or was he proposing something totally novel? That we are possibly smart enough to discern between the significant and the shtuss!?

Fashion may not be completely kosher and we’ve never mixed kippas with couture but the two may have more in common than we’ve ever cared to admit. The question is, are we strong enough to separate the poison from the message and learn a trick or two from the runway without getting trampled by a parade of six foot, pin-thin models?

Ps. BTW- I shop at Forever 21 (a fashion crime, I'm sure) and I have never met Michael Kors- in person or in the form of a dress. Fashion is eye candy to me, not my life, G-d forbid. As much as I wish I could afford to drip materialism, I can't...


Altie said...


Very well written and well put. What is the original article called?

mushka said...

its called a fashion affair

mekubal said...

I read the original, it wasn't bad. A fairly decent metaphor to be honest. Where you went astray and what landed you all of the negative comments was that you misread your audience.

By posting on you are essentially writing to the english speaking, B"T public looking for deep inspiration. The same group of people that have helped Rav Yaakov Hillel Shlita to sell quite literally millions of copies of his books Ascending the Path(a commentary on Mesilat Yesharim) and Jacobs ladder. In which he basically declares holy war on the fashion industry essentially stating that anyone that wears recent seasons(or years) fashions is an apikorus and anyone who has intimate knowledge of such is well on their way.

Especially his more popular work, Ascending the Path, which now comprises five volumes, every other page contains some jibe at the fashion industry(the intervening pages are devoted to denouncing Kosher Gourmet food), your audience has been saturated with the message that all things fashion are against our sages and a quick road to apostasy.

While it appeared quite clear to me that you were using fashion as a metaphor, it was also quite clear from the comments that a number of people didn't get that...

Personal suggestion. Shrug it off and move on. Perhaps be a little more careful in the future, or be more thick skinned to criticism. When your words can be construed as taking on one of the Gedolei HaDor you are going to get it.

mekubal said...

By the way, I did like the original article.

Mushka said...

thank you