16 August 2019 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy:
Not long ago at church one of the older women walked up to me and said, “This has been bothering me for a long time. That’s not your real hair color, is it?” At first I made a joke about covering my gray. But she gave me a stern stare and said, “You should read what Ellen White says about women’s appearance.”
I’m not the kind of person who gets easily offended and quits coming to church. I know us Adventists well, I love this old woman, and I know she didn’t mean to hurt me. She was just concerned, and had no tact. But I wish I’d had a good answer to give her. Ellen White did have opinions about women’s appearance, and though my intuition tells me that I don’t need to go strictly by 19th century appearance standards, I’d like to know what I could say next time.
Signed, Not a Natural Redhead
Dear Not Natural,
Aunt Sevvy believes that Ellen White was a kind, thoughtful, and tactful woman and would be offended by the way people have used her words to try to control the actions of others.
Will you give a tax-deductible donation to Adventist Today?
While Aunt Sevvy doesn’t know Mrs. White’s exact intentions regarding hair color, we can interpret her fashion advice generally by these two principles:
- She didn’t want people to spend unwisely, showing off, or being unsafe or unhygienic. Covering your gray is none of those things.
- Ellen White was a reasonable woman who lived in a specific time in history, and was seeing through the lens of that time. That must be taken into account when we read her advice regarding fashion, which was very different (and not always better) than today.
I want to compliment you on your positive attitude. Any time we’re in any family or community, there will be people who are undiplomatic and pushy. You did well in assuming the best about her and laughing it off, rather than arguing with her. There’s no better way to silence critics than to be confident, carefree, living well and loving others in spite of them.
However, you might want to watch out for others in church who aren’t as forbearing and easy-going as you are, and rescue them—or at least reassure them—should this dear sister decide to straighten them out.
Enjoy your hair, whatever color you choose it to be.
Hair-dyed and happy,
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—always without real names. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.