Following the Crowd vs. Attention Grabbing Behavior
I posted a quick summary on my other blog of a conversation I had with my Shabbos hosts the other night. Some popular musician was mentioned that sparked the conversation, and my host questioned what makes certain things popular - why so many people follow along, when oftentimes, there isn't much reason for doing so other than the fact that it is popular. He asked why so many people follow the crowd without thinking.So I challenged him. I asked him why he wears a dark suit to shul on Shabbos. He replied that you are supposed to wear something special in honor of the Holy Sabbath. I asked him why he doesn't wear a red suit, that would certainly be special. He said it wouldn't be appropriate. I asked him why not. He said it just isn't. I asked him who says it isn't appropriate. He didn't really have an answer. In other words, he's just following the crowd without thinking.
To be fair, we did discuss how wearing a red suit certainly would cause someone to stand out in a crowd, and to draw attention to oneself, which could certainly be considered inappropriate, especially in shul. There is certainly a fine line between being yourself, not following the crowd without thinking, and drawing attention to oneself by attention-grabbing behavior. Apparently, I have not quite figured out where this line is.The truth is, I'm not sure if I haven't found the line at all, or if it's just that the company I keep varies so much so that I either don't or do cross line depending on who I am with.
To explain a little more, I enjoy colorful things. I play with make-up and nail polish colors. I have a tendency to wear purple or blue nail polish and glitter eye liner on occasion. It's honestly not done with the intention of drawing attention to myself - I enjoy the colors and glitter. It makes me happy to wear them and I find it fun. When I'm at work in my Manhattan office (which is super-casual) people either think absolutely nothing of it, or they think it's cool. But in a frum community, depending on the community, apparently this is not the norm, and some people (probably ones who don't know me especially well) think I am doing it to draw attention.I was called out on it this past weekend. The way I was called on it was done in a very sensitive manner, and I heard the explanation and could understand it. But in the end, it still irks me. And I can't decide whether it should irk me. Whether it's my immaturity and rebellious nature that caused me to go ahead and put my glitter eyeliner on when I was getting ready for work this morning. Or whether I have a valid point, that there is nothing wrong with my wearing it, even being a part of a frum community.
I'm struggling with this. I'm not an attention-grabbing person by nature. I hate being in the spotlight. So I really don't think I wear these colors in order to draw attention. But if I do draw attention by it, even inadvertently, should I stop wearing my glitter and purple nail polish? Because I do understand, and desire to embody, the concept of tznius as a frum woman. But if I do refrain from wearing it, I am just following the crowd blindly and letting go of my unique self? Or can I be myself without needing to wear purple nail polish? Is there a middle ground?