Anne of Green Gables was hands down my favorite book growing up, and I was enraptured by the whole series. Every time I was sick, Anne was the first book I reached for… rereading it worked nearly as well as any medicine to make me feel better. The Anne books were also some of the few that I was allowed to read on Sundays… my parents agreed they were all right since god was brought up in a positive light. It’s hard to tell now if the forming of my character was highly influenced by a subconscious desire to be like Anne, or if I loved her so much because I could identify with her in so many ways.
I, like Anne, possessed an overactive imagination, a love of books and poetry, a deep love of beauty (I KNOW the thrill that Anne was always talking about… when things are so lovely that they hurt), a desire for a bosom friend, and in spite of my own horribly unfashionable clothes I also knew how important fashion was.
One passage in particular always stuck with me. It’s when Matthew is plotting to get Anne a dressed with puffed sleeves for Christmas, and he goes to Mrs. Lynde for help. Mrs. Lynde was all too happy to be part of the scheme to get Anne something fashionable and says to herself, “I suppose [Marilla] is trying to cultivate a spirit of humility in Anne by dressing her as she does; but it’s more likely to cultivate envy and discontent.”
“Yes” I thought every time I read that. Yes to n-th degree.
I had a bone-deep longing to look like the other girls I saw out and about. I hated that all my clothes were hand-me-downs or homemade or from the thrift shop and I really hated always having to wear skirts out in public. At the very least however, I was NOT going to look like many of the other homeschoolers we knew who wore jean skirts with sneakers. That, I had some measure of control over, and though jean skirts were definitely part of my life I can proudly say that I never EVER paired them with sneakers.
When I started earning money as a teenager (from babysitting and later on from giving music lessons), the first thing I did was start to buy my own clothes. Nothing too crazy or too “immodest”, but at least my clothes could be new and looking like they came from that decade.
After all, like Anne said, “It is ever so much easier to be good if your clothes are fashionable.”