Saturday, November 4, 2017

Wherein I applaud my new hero, Cady Mansell

This is my sister, Peg, on the day of her First Holy Communion at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church in Long Beach, California, circa 1960. (I spent a couple of hours looking for a photo of me in a similar dress--or probably this same one, as I often wore her hand-me-downs--but couldn't find one. There is also no photo of my baptism--but don't get me started on all that because it would make for an entirely separate and very long blog post.)

And this is my new hero, Cady Mansell, wearing the outfit she planned to wear on the day of her First Holy Communion at St. John the Evangelist church. Isn't it stunning? Isn't she amazing? Are you not crying tears of joy for her that she was raised by a mom who clearly said, "Sure! Wear what you want! Be who you want to be!"? I am. Cady is me. I am Cady. Well, yes, 55 or so years ago, but still.... Oh, how I would have loved to take my First Holy Communion wearing something as stylish and non-gender-conforming as that incredible pantsuit Cady is wearing. Anything but the itchy, uncomfortable, so-not-me, Why-does-this-look-like-a-bridal-gown? dress I had to wear. My legs were always cold. My legs are still cold!

Sadly, Cady missed out on that special day--because she was not allowed to take her First Communion--because she wasn't wearing a dress. (You can read that full story here.)

For the love of Mary and all the saints that are holy, are you kidding me, parish priest? You denied her communion?!? Because her legs were encased in fabric instead of being barely covered by a dress? Come on! Give me the scriptural proof text for that outrageous mandate! But you can't, can you? There isn't one.

It is not my intention here... at this time, anyway... to attack the Catholic Church. It's not about a church or a religion. It's about a man who purports to be a holy man, connected to a higher authority, but uses that position to dictate what is and is not "feminine" (his word, not mine). Feminine? You think you know what God intended "feminine" to be, Father Clueless? You think that word only encompasses women who wear dresses? How very, very sad.

But let's not focus on the negative. Let's look again at the positive example of Cady and her mom, who are part of a new generation, a generation of individuals who have the courage to be who they are (Yes! Go, Cady girl!) and to express themselves in the style that fits their own personal identity--without conforming to some idea of a societal norm.

I am sixty-three years old. But let me tell you, Cady is an inspiration to me, and I have no doubt she is an inspiration to girls (and boys) across the country to simply be the person they were born to be. Period. Without applying labels of any kind. What a rock star she is! And a smartly dressed one, at that! 

Here's one more photo of Cady... on a different day... in a different style... because, again, it's all about being who we really are... on any given day:


  1. "Its all about being who you are you on any given day." I love that. It is nice to wear what "suits" your feelings. On the other hand, maybe it is good to have societal standards. On my own I dress one small step up from pajamas. That would be gardening clothes, worn loose and earthy, followed by yoga clothes, cleaner and stretchy. My favorite uniform is a judo gi, thick cotton origami wrap. In my formal work days the sales people like me dressed in pant suits or skirt suits with tight shoes, but the programmers (male or female) always got to wear T-shirts, jeans and Birkenstocks. That always stuck me as unfair. I never think of clothing as a gender thing, but work related, this was interesting to think about how still it overlaps with gender.

  2. Yes, Judy, clearly this wasn't about the specific clothing itself. It was about blurring the very rigid societal lines between what is "boy" and what is "girl" and the fear that doing so generates. I don't know this priest, and no one can say what he was thinking, but I suspect it might've been trying to send a warning: 'Don't be edging so close to that slippery slope of pantsuit today, gender reassignment tomorrow.' As always, our species fears the unknown and the different. Ignorance is a demon we can cast out successfully with education and enlightenment.