Decoding Dress | Religious Leader Attire (Ep. 3)

Decoding Dress | Religious Leader Attire (Ep. 3)


– Hey, it’s Helene, and I’m back with another
episode of Decoding Dress. I have to tell you: When it comes to the connection between religion and clothing,
there is a lot to unpack. So for now, we’ll look at
one item from this suitcase, and that’s the attire
of religious leaders. But with a little bit of a twist. (upbeat music) Clothing has meaning within
every religious group. And it can be relatively
easy to identify leaders of these different groups because of their religious dress codes. Lutheran minister, Imani O’Lear, says attire for leaders in her
Christian denomination does have a distinguishing look. – In the Lutheran church,
traditionally the alb, or robe, that you see, it’s all white. Typically, big sleeves, flowing robe. Historically, they have
then cinctured themselves with a tie and then a stole
to define a priestly role. The priest of history wore it straight on, and then deacons would
wear it to the side. – I’m not sure if you noticed, but Imani does not wear a cincture. That’s the accessory
that looks like a rope, and it’s tied around the waist. It’s a familiar site in Lutheran churches. Well, there is a reason
behind Imani’s decision. – It looks so much like a noose. And the stoles, excuse me, the robes typically had hoods on them. And in our African-American culture, a rope, a hood, and carrying a cross kind of reminds you of a KKK rally. I very symbolically don’t
do those things any longer. These elements can be a stumbling block to many people going into their faith. – Do me a favor and
check out Imani’s stole draped around her shoulders. It’s displaying the names of
black men and women in America who have been killed. She says her platform is an opportunity to raise awareness. And one way to do that
is through the clothing she chooses to wear on Sunday mornings. – As a woman pastor that’s
in this male-dominated field, sometimes my clothing has to walk into a certain authority. And so when I put on my stole, my robe, and my cute heels, it is just a reminder that this is the authority
and the position that I’m in ’cause a lot of times,
it’s put down as a woman. And particularly in the
Lutheran church as a black woman where that isn’t seen as often. I have to walk into my
authority in that clothing. – Imani says every time she
puts on her robe and stole, she’s conscious of the
responsibility that comes with it. She says wearing a religious
uniform isn’t about her but about her role in
proclaiming the love of God. And sometimes, she gets
a little assistance from her clothes when spreading that love. All right, let’s do a
brief recap before we go. Leaders of various
religions can be identified by their religious garb, but some choose to deviate from those traditional dress codes to send a message, offer a symbolic gesture of unity, or for other reasons. Number two) by being conscious of attire, some religious leaders are able to remove stumbling blocks that might prevent people from seeking a religious path that aligns with their beliefs. Finally, religious garb
represents a specific responsibility for the leader wearing it. Imani says it can’t be about her and spreading her beliefs. It must align with the
message that her faith requires her to share. I’m Helene Biandudi Hofer, and this is The Empty
Hanger’s Decoding Dress. What are your thoughts
on religious leaders using clothes to help share their message? Connect me on our social channels
and tell me your thoughts. And I will see you next time. (upbeat music)

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