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The girlfriends’ clergy companion

The girlfriends’ clergy companion

When I started seminary and began envisioning myself as a clergyperson, I started looking at the style of women pastors, particularly women head pastors. And I noticed that virtually without exception, they had “The Haircut.” The Don’t-Think-of-Me-as-a-Woman-Think-of-Me-as-a-Pastor haircut.

So begins Marianne J. Grano’s essay for the Alban Weekly. She is addressing an issue that many female clergy members face.

Sometimes when I’m up in front of the church with the older male head of staff, I feel like Kelly on the show Live with Regis and Kelly. Nobody really notices what Regis is wearing, but we all evaluate what Kelly is sporting. People comment on my shoes, my jewelry, my hair, of course, and what I might be wearing under my robe. I am unabashedly viewed as matter, as style. And I know from my conversations with other young clergywomen that this experience is a universal one for our set. Male pastors and older women are definitely subject to scrutiny for what they wear. Yet younger women are particularly subject to being viewed for their style because television and the media promote young women as objects. Thus I have sometimes felt that my style is more important to the congregation than what I am saying about God.

I am eager to hear what other clergywomen think about this piece, and about their experiences with the issues that Grano describes.


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it's margaret

I don’t know what the “haircut” is either –but I too, like Lois, choose short hair because I am a cancer survivor…

I think (maybe it’s because I am a cancer survivor and flat as a board) –I think there comes a time when one just doesn’t care what people think or say any more…. and it’s soooo liberating! –and comes from inside….

Margaret Watson

Lois Keen

I’ve always viewed clothing as costuming. I wear what I want, or what I feel. When I dress “up”, it’s usually because I’m costuming myself for a certain occasion. I don’t own a suit. I do own one little black dress.

I don’t know what the haircut is that says “I’m clergy – take me seriously”. I may have it, but only because I had cancer. When I lost my hair I chose not to wear a wig. I went bald. When I celebrated mass I word a pillbox type yarmulke on my bald pate. When my hair started to grow back, I liked the freedom of short hair. I liked it so much I started having it cut very short.

If this means I don’t look womanly I have to say I probably don’t look much like a priest, either, except for the dog collar, which could just as often be worn over jeans, or with a Watkins Glen International Speedway t-shirt over it, as under that little black dress. Today I’m wearing comfortable trousers, a sleeveless clergy shirt with dog collar, and a flannel shirt.

Judith Davis

The first time I preached in my sponsoring parish before going to seminary, one of the parishioners–a woman–made one comment about the sermo–that my earrings dangled–not a comment about the content or delivery of the sermon. A woman had never preached in that parish. I just shook it off and decided from then on that I would always choose dangling earrings. I live a busy life as a priest and spend no time on worrying about my hair or what I wear. I just do the work I’m called to do. I’ve been ordained 20 years and 20 years gives you just a wee bit of wisdom about what matters and what doesn’t–but I still wear dangling earrings!

Vicki Zust

I remember when I was first ordained having an elderly woman parisioner comment that she had seen the outfit I was wearing before. All I could do was laugh and say, “Yes, and you’ll see it again.”

I also had several deputies to the 2006 General Convention commen that they had seen me on t.v. in the same jacket more than once.

I’m certain no one noticed the jackets that the men who were interviewed on t.v. were wearing or indeed that the male rector wore the same suit nearly every Sunday.

It is just part of being a professional woman even today.

Sara Miles

For more thoughtful reflections on the theology of fabulousness, see Rev. Peacebang’s “Beauty Tips for Ministers”

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