Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Does This Dress Make Me Look...Holy?

This morning's laugh-groan-laugh and h/t to A Concord Pastor Comments whose post about First Communion Dresses appeared on my screen before I'd yet eaten.

And thank God I'd not yet taken a sip of anything. It probably would've splattered onto my screen as I read about one British retailer's promise not to "...Sell The Same Dress To Another Child At The Same Mass" (capitalization in the original).

After zooming in on that solemn vow, I noticed the politically correct gender neutral language (i.e., "child") and amused myself briefly by pondering a slew of little boys dressed in drag before smacking myself upside the head. Then, I visited another site, swallowing several times while trying to digest this overwrought ad copy which reads, in part:

"Here is an ultimate gorgeous girlie First Communion dress with distinctive sheer swirly layered skirt that twist and twirls with movement that every little girl and parent will just fall in love with."

The sentence structure snagged my attention but not for long because I became quickly entranced by the word "girlie" and the notion that having a "distinctive sheer swirly
layered skirt" might have anything to do with receiving -- and being nourished by -- first Eucharist. Concord Pastor, Fr. Austin Fleming, makes a similar observation.

I, however, offer this solution to the soul-shaking, identity-challenging problem of having a distinctive girlie dress on such a special blessed day: let them wear uniforms.

I'm thinking plaid, which would probably go well with the latest translation of the Roman Missal.


  1. Wow. How's that for grabbing the bride/consumer early?

    I remember my First Communion dress with real affection. We had a whole slew of girl cousins around the same age, and we all wore it. Would this be seen as pathetic now? It was fun then.

  2. Given the state of most things in the UK anything that can be commodified will be, anything that can be stage managed will be and anything that can be "spun" will be.
    Mind you, in Spain these days the average first communion can cost families a packet :4-5000 Euros is nothing and the child expects big presents e.g.computers, i-pods, etc. The families are caught up in it because they feel that they would be looked down on if they didn't keep up with the "Jones's" ( except in Spain it woiuld be a different surname). So Sad. sad , sad,
    When will we ever learn ? as the song goes.

  3. It is a real shame and a schande. Ugh.

    In May of 1965 I had a nice enough white dress. I remember my flowers; they were white with a fake bee on them. I loved that bee. And to look back now and think of the symbolism.

    Who knew?

  4. Meredith, I'm glad I finished my coffee before reading this! "Girlie," indeed -- gross idea, gross commercialism, yah-de-yah...

    I was confirmed and received my first Communion at the Bishop Strachan School in Toronto (named for the first Bishop of Upper Canada). No First Communion dresses for us -- we wore our ugly grey uniform middy blouses and pleated wool skirts (not plaid, which was for the girls at the Havergal School!) and chapel veils. Rather like wearing an amice on your head.

    Our Confirmation prep was done by a weird priest who was uncomfortable around girls (girlies, perhaps, to him). I remember next to nothing about it except how dull it was. One girl asked him to clarify "adultery," and queried if it was like kissing someone else's boyfriend. His reply: "Yes." Finis.

  5. Now I'll have to dig around for my 1955 First Communion photo and see if Nebraska girls wore such things. Might not have been so on the prairie. I think I had more fun the day before at the First Confession. Oy!

  6. It's amazing to me every year just how concerned some parents get about the clothes their kids will wear to the celebration while for others it's almost an after-thought. I've seen everything from full-blown bridal gowns for 8-year-olds to boys in their favorite T-shirts and jeans.

    We're in the midst to transitioning to a Restored Order of Confirmation and Eucharist which has us preparing and celebrating Confirmation and Eucharist together and this has become one of the 'hot-button' issues "can the little girls still wear pretty dresses?"

  7. I had my first communion nearly sixty years ago. I must have been a difficult little girl because I had private classes of catechism. I also had a very pretty dress for the occasion -- and a great lunch at a good restaurant (this was for the adults really).

    Two years later, I did my 'first communion' again, this time with my class. My mother was not going to buy another dress so she lengthened the hem. It no longer looked really pretty.

    While I never thought of looking of holy (I was around 5), the experience of my real first communion is one of the holiest moments in my life...

    Yesterday, I was walking in one of the streets of viejo San Juan and went by a store filled with lovely white dresses for little girls of various sizes. I realized they were for first communions. What a flashback!

  8. Ouch.

    I was comforted to see, however, that the dresses are actually attractive, modest and girl-like, rather than being evocative of "Barbie's First Communion - can be altered for Barbie's first binge-drinking event," which had had me worried for a minute there.


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