By Blaque Nubon.
On 21 June 2014, Peaches Monroee coined a phrase that would become known to as many as two billion people globally in two weeks: “eyebrows on fleek”.
People started using ‘on fleek’ for any and everything. Suddenly your clothes were ‘on fleek’, your food was ‘on fleek’, your car was ‘on fleek’. If you loved it and it was good, it was probably ‘on fleek’.
Sorry for throwing you into the deep end without explaining what you’re itching to know – what does ‘on fleek’ mean?
In relation to eyebrows, it means they are stunning and the make-up contouring you’ve done on them is excellent. Think of the word ‘good’ and all its synonyms.
‘On fleek’ has been used to describe one’s sense of fashion and style. Here’s how you would use it in a sentence, “Blaque, you are on fleek!” which means that my fashion sense or style is of high quality, is superb, fine etc.
This brings us to the focus of our conversation: Fashion. Who is for? What is it about? And most importantly, what does God, through the Bible, have to say about it?
Now, before you tap out because you think you’re not fashionable and this has nothing to do with you, I want to propose a radical idea which we’ll spend the rest of the article looking at. Here is my radical idea: EVERYONE IS #ONFLEEK!!!
Yes, everyone, including you! This is mainly for 3 reasons, which I want us to look at.
1) We all wear clothes
The first reason is quite obvious to all of us. We all wear clothes.
Clothes are part of our daily routine, whether we are going to school, work church, on a date, a camp, a holiday, down to the shop to buy milk… we all have to dress up and show up appropriately to fit the occasion. This is so common to us that if someone would show up naked, we would probably call the police on them because that would not correlate with normal behaviour.
So, if you put on clothes, my guess is that you will be ‘on fleek’ whether you know it or not. Let me qualify this. There are people who dress conservatively and then there are the rest of us who are ‘out there’. My point is you are ‘on fleek’ for whichever camp you fit in and with the next two reasons I will elaborate in detail what I mean by this. But let me end this first point here, you are either conservatively ‘on fleek’ or radically ‘on fleek’.
2) Our clothes speak to others
Whatever you wear, conservatively or radically, your clothes will send messages about you to people around you. Now, these messages might not be true conclusions or reflections about you, but my point is that your clothes will send them anyway.
You might argue, “Well, it’s not my clothes sending the messages, its people making their own judgments.” But consider that those judgments are not made in a vacuum; your clothes say something to others in order for them to make those conclusions. So, your clothes will send messages about your family, community, job, spending habits and interests. They might not be true reflections, but because of cultural and social bias, people are inclined to interpret your clothing.
So, people who admire your conservative approach to fashion would conclude that you are ‘on fleek’ as they interpret the messages your clothes send to them; and similar for those who consider themselves radically ‘on fleek’.
3) Our clothes speak to us
Have you ever heard the statement, “Most of the time, people don’t dress how they feel but they dress how they want to feel”?
North University in Chicago ran a study called “Enclosed Cognition” where they gave two groups of people the same white lab coats. They told the first group that their coats belonged to medical doctors and the second group that their coats belonged to artists. Then they put both groups in separate kitchens to wash dishes. The groups with the “doctor’s” lab coats washed the dishes very carefully as to not dirty the coats, but the group with the “artist’s” lab coats were very carefree and messed all over their coats. To a large extent, this experiment was to prove the point that our clothes communicate something to us.
Many Hollywood actors have been reported saying that it was hard for them to get into the minds of the characters they were meant to play in certain films until the directors gave them the character’s clothing. Once they put on the clothes they could suddenly feel the character, envision their life story, interpret their movements etc.
If our clothes say something to ourselves and other people, what does God through the Bible have to say about clothes?
In Genesis 3:21 we find the first outfit is put together for the first humans by God himself. And our question is Why? Why did they need clothes? Why did God have to design them?
It’s very interesting to see that Adam and Eve only needed clothes after their rebellion and sin against God. Moses makes a point to show us that before the fall, they were naked and unashamed; but after the fall, they were covered in fig leaves, trying to hide their shame.
So, in one sense it doesn’t matter if we are conservatively ‘on fleek’ or radically ‘on fleek’; our clothes are supposed to remind us of two fundamental truths:
We have lost the glory we once had
Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed, walking with God in obedience and holiness to him, in purity, innocence and love for each other. All was put in the light, they and the world around them were all in perfect harmony. All parts of creation were exactly where God intended them to be. In this world, no clothes were required. God and man lived in perfect communion.
God is more merciful than we will ever understand
Again, it is very interesting that the first thing God does for Adam and Eve after they get banished from the garden of Eden, is to make garments for them. God knows how harsh the world will be for his people, so instead of leaving them naked, shameful and exposed (which they deserved), this merciful, gracious and loving God kills a lamb for them and uses the lamb’s skin as clothes to cover his rebellious people.
This lamb was innocent, blameless, and without blemish. What God was doing and saying is that he would ultimately bring an innocent, blameless lamb with no blemish in his Son, Jesus Christ, who will clothe sinful, shameful and exposed sinners like you and I with his is own righteousness, in order for us to live in and for his glory.
In Colossians 3, Paul makes the argument that those who are now in Jesus Christ, clothed in his righteousness should live so. In verse 9 he says, “Put off the old self…and put on the new self”. This is a picture of taking off old clothes and putting on new ones.
As much as Adam and Eve got “hand-me-downs” from the lamb that God sacrificed in Genesis 3:21, we who have come to believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour are likewise clothed in his righteous “hand-me-downs”. He is our big brother, the firstborn of all creation and we want his clothes, we want to look like him in all respects.
Lastly, if our clothes speak to ourselves and others, we need to be very careful with the messages we’re sending both ways. Are we evoking any immorality or impurity in others or ourselves with how we dress? Do we have a false sense of humility because we think those who are radically ‘on fleek’ are cultural gluttons and are not as righteous as we are? On the flipside, do we have a false sense of pride because we think those who are conservatively ‘on fleek’ are just ignorant, old-fashioned, culturally anorexic, and therefore unable to engage our modern culture?
In a self-obsessed culture, we want to be clear that our clothes don’t define us, whether we are conservatively ‘on fleek’ or radically ‘on fleek’. What defines us are the “clothes” of Jesus Christ, having been raised with him, we set our minds on things above, where he is seated next to God the Father. Amen.