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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Nun Bangs

One of the perks of being a nun is never having a bad hair day. It's just one of those things I never have to think about for one second which gives me more time to pray for sinners (other than myself...I'm hoping the sinners I'm praying for are praying for me or I'm really going be in the soup).

Suddenly, Sister St. Aloysius wants me to cut her hair. She wants to save the $6 from Fantastic Sam's or Sam's Club or wherever she has been going. She does the short veil thing with those little bangs. Nun bangs.

Here's a hot tip for all those Catholics out there who are disconcerted that clerics and religious don't always dress in a recognizable cleric or religious outfit for you. I suspect, from conversations I've had with such people, that the real issue is that they might be speaking to a member of the clergy, etc. and not realize it and say something or do something untoward. To them I say, behave yourself all the time and you won't have to worry about it. God and his army will thank you.

That wasn't the hot tip yet. That was some friendly advice.

I get a little cranky with all this judgment about what nuns wear. I wear the old habit, myself. In some way, it is a fashion choice, that is, a choice so I never have to think about fashion, my hair, do I have a clean blouse? , etc.

But I certainly don't begrudge nuns who are not in a full habit.

The original nuns were dressed like the people around them, only in the matching colors of their order. All women were all covered up and wore veils and head wrappings. The wimple was common in biblical times and popular in Europe during the Middle Ages. Nuns adopted the style at that time to make them inconspicuous in the world. Nuns who worked out in the world were not trying to separate themselves from other people, they were in fact trying to blend in, but they wore a uniform, so to speak. They just never ever updated the uniform.

Here is a painting of a typical English noblewoman....now just imagine her in black and white. Or brown and white with a brown scapular. Voila! She's suited up and ready to serve.

In fact, take a look at this medieval servant.
Not a nun. Just a serving wench. If she were transported by time to the present everyone would think she was a nun.

Demanding that nun wear a full habit is demanding that nuns remain stuck in time. Demanding that nuns wear a full habit is like asking a member of the military to wear a uniform from the Hundred Years War, or a nurse to dress like Florence Nightingale. Remember her? She, and all nurses, wore veils. I don't hear anyone fussing that nurses should be wearing veils.

Here's the hot tip: How to Spot a Nun.

1. Nun bangs.

2.Bad looking flat shoes from Payless or Sears.

If the nun is old she may look slightly disheveled after years of wearing a habit and suddenly having to worry about tucking in her blouse all day. In fact, I can't think of a time when speaking to an old nun in 'modern' garb (her denim shift from 1978) that I didn't notice something that I wanted to reach out and fix. I remember following a nun in a shift type thing all around her amazing homeless shelter. She feeds 700 people per day! Her top button on the back was undone. I really wanted to fix it for her.

I don't think I have any business cutting Sister St. Aloysius' hair. I think I'll make a botch of it. The good news is that, as a nun, she won't care. It's a win/win for her. If I actually pull it off, she looks decent. If it turns out I'm terrible at it and she ends up looking like Albert Einstein, she can practice humility, even more than usual. That's why nuns cut off their hair in the first place, after all. The more things change, the more they remain the same.


KatDee said...

Nun habits are very interesting. Who was the saint who started out as a spoiled brat and wore a velvet gown as a habit? I can't remember.

I was educated in elementary school by sisters from a teaching order called the Sisters of the Rolling Hills in Los Angeles. Rumor had it their habits were designed by Bill Blass - I'm not sure I believe that but it makes a good story.

cattiekit said...

Once upon a time, nun bangs were fashionable. Truth.

Just check back to those 50's style "pixie cuts". ;>)

My mom insisted on giving me nun bangs just because. She got my dad to do it in between visits to Mr. Michael, our hair stylist.

I used to go around looking perpetually astonished trying to get my eyebrows closer to my bangs.

The only saint *I* personally remember who started out as something resembling a spoiled brat is St. Augustine of Hippo. I believe he came from wealth and gave us the famous saying, "God grant me continence, but not just yet".

Or something like that. Our Soeur Sourire can probably put her thumb on the correct one if I'm a little off here. :>)

bizyhands said...

People that can laugh at themselves are rare. You are a blessing, and not even in disguise.

The Crescat said...

the only probably I find with habitless nuns are that they are usually from a more "modern" order and are less obedient to Church teachings.

They are reminiscent of aging hippies and if you are aware, their orders aren't thriving as well as the tradition orders with habited nuns.

Just my thoughts as to why I have a beef with habitless nuns. It's not that I dont know how to behave around people.

Denise said...

I agree with you. Many of the nuns gave up more than the habit. They gave up obedience, humility, the Creed, etc and started dabbling in New Age crystals and yoga.

Sister Mary Martha said...

and many didn't....Go here http://www.ssnd-sl.org/ and tell me these women are 'hippies'. Then go put your very broad brush back where it belongs, in the tool drawer.

Anonymous said...

I checked out the Notre Dame sisters site and they seem to be doing wonderful things but...they don't seem to have "nun bangs?" (I can't see their shoes.)

Anonymous said...

This blog has been called many things. I will call it funny, fun and informational.

Congrats on the honor of being a top blog. (Do a Google search and you will see you have been voted one of the best.)

If that Sister St. Aloysius doesn't want to get her hair cut at a salon -- and you don't want to cut it -- you would always buy her some hair gel and have her spike the current bangs. Might be a snappy look...and it would save you both some time. (However, it might frighten children...)

Sister Mary Martha said...

We can't have her spiking her hair. Especially is everyone already thinks she's a hippie. Imagine what they would think if she spiked her hair. Egad.

I wonder where that vote took place! In the interest of humility, I'll ignore this popularity contest.

Sister Yesterday said...

I like habited nuns because it makes me feel comforted to be around sisters who have given there all to God. There are so many wonderful nuns without habits also, but I do admit to a wee frisson of joy to see one in a habit of some sort.
The Little Sisters of the Poor wear denim or whatever the fabric of the poor in the country they minister in wears. Missionaries of Charity wear saris. I think it is the complete non-identification with fashion and physical beauty that is so attractive, if you get my drift.

dutch said...

I was cheered up today seeing the picutre and the words "nun bangs" next to that picture. That made my day...so funny!

sr betsy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan Rose Francois, CSJP said...

I came across this post from Into the Deep many months after it was posted.

Imagine my surprise when I recognized one of my very own Sisters as the example for nun bangs!

I however do not have bangs ... I've been growing my hair out to avoid paying for those $6 haircuts.

Anonymous said...

Please forgive my ignorance (and vanity), but must nuns cut their hair? Are they ever allowed to keep their long hair, as long as they keep it covered? Just wondering.... If I were a nun, I would want to wear the traditional habit, but have long hair underneath my veil. (Pure vanity!) But, you know, St. Mary Magdalene has long hair, and she is a Saint! And St. John the Baptist *never* cut his hair at all!

Pennycake said...

Dear Sister,

The original nuns were dressed like the people around them, and I read in a booklet about the history of the Mass that the original priests were dressed like the people around them too... but wasn't the Middle Ages a time when being nuns and priests wasn't counter-cultural? It was an honour, it was a privilege, it warranted respect. In today's world, being a nun or a priest is counter-cultural, sometimes even distasteful, and as "clothes make the man" - your habit speaks volumes about your self-sacrificing love for God and neighbour without you even opening your mouth, it is a wonderful testament to the Faith! =)

Happy feast of Our Lady of Copacabana & Our Lady of the Snows! =D

Jean Elizabeth

Pennycake said...

also, sisters' habits remind me of Mother Mary's clothing, and friars'/monks' robes remind me of what Jesus wore =)

Anonymous said...

What do nuns do with the old habits they no longer wear? I would like to start a collection of nuns/clergy attire.