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Christiana Peterson

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

When I'm pregnant and working in the garden. For me, it's not about what I'm wearing as much as it is about the beauty of the creative capacities of my body.

2. Do you notice women on the street? If so, what sort of women do you tend to notice or admire?

Well, I don't walk the streets much because I live on the farm. But around here, I admire women who are proud of their physical strength when lifting bales of hay or tons of watermelons. They are proud to be laboring with the earth, and that's beautiful.

3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?

I admire a woman who is confident and kind in whatever she does, whether it's the way she dresses, writes, speaks, or shows her great capabilities in her job.

4. Was there a moment in your life when something “clicked” for you about fashion or dressing or make-up or hair? What? Why did it happen then, do you think?

I was pretty frumpy in grade school and high school (my wardrobe of choice in Jr. High was homemade one-piece bubble suits and T-shirt dresses to match the rubber bands on my braces). I think that had a lot to do with the way I felt about my body; I never fit the ideal body type of a teenage girl. But when I got to college, I realized that when I wore a funky piece of clothing or did my hair in a unique way, people thought I was different and creative. It took my attention away from the awkward feelings about my body and made the focus on how I could be unique. I suppose there was a large measure of masking my inner dislike of my body with the distraction of funky outfits. But it worked for a while.

5. What are some shopping rules you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but which you follow?

I don't shop much because the closest mall is 40 minutes away and I am loathe to buy clothes at Walmart. But when I do shop for myself, I try to shop sustainably by buying second hand whenever I can.

6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?

Long stretchy skirts. I traveled across Europe in long stretchy skirts and hiking boots. When they are showing wear and tear, I wear them in the garden. My nicer long skirts can go with boots, tights or leggings in winter. They are versatile and they always fit, even if I've gained a few pounds.

8. Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, chores, etc.? Please explain.

Live sustainably. For me this has a strong theological connection. If I can live attempting to be in right relationship to everything important: God, others, self and creation, then I am living sustainably and caring for others through my life choices.

9. Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple? Why do you think you keep buying this thing?

Long skirts again.

10. Have you ever successfully given someone a present of jewelry or clothing that you continue to feel good about?

I don't generally buy clothes for others but I helped my husband pick out a new wardrobe years ago and it was very satisfying. He looked really good and we enjoyed the task together.

11. Is there any fashion trend you’ve refused to participate in and why? 

Bikinis, short skirts, low-rise jeans, high heels. There is too much tugging, adjusting, and discomfort involved. I prefer not to show unnecessary amounts of skin.

12. Can you say a bit about how your mother’s body and style has been passed down to you, or not?

My mom and I have both struggled with body image issues. I don't know if that's passed down or genetic or a product of society. Perhaps all of those things. But she is quite thin and puts herself together very well. I have borrowed her clothes in the past, the ones that fit me. But I don't pay as much attention to style as I used to.

15. Is there anything political about the way you dress?

Theological, not political.

16. Please describe your body.

My mom and I both have what we call a shield bottom: flat and cushion-less. I am busty, hip-less and waist-less. I have skinny legs. I could always rock skinny jeans in the legs but have to have a long shirt to cover the other inheritance from my mom: a tummy.

17. Please describe your mind.

Creatively web-like: new ideas must fit within the frame of the web to stick and once they're there sometimes it takes some spider-like meandering to find.

18. Please describe your emotions.

Inventively anxious when stressed.

19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?

I'm wearing my newborn baby right now. Grey sweats and a long grey hoodie my husband bought me. My hair is down, freshly washed, messy. I'd like to think, with my longer bangs, that I'm rocking the Farrah Fawcett look, but probably not.

20. In what way is this stuff important, if at all?

I used to think it was more important than it is. I'm trying to find the balance now. I think it's important to get dressed in the morning, to have a sense of facing and encountering the day, to dress appropriately for various occasions and venues. While fashion can be artistic and creative (art is essential in my opinion), I also think fashion (like many things) can become shallow entertainment and a distraction from engaging with more meaningful things. But it is interesting how these questions bring up more meaningful things. In that way, I think we should be more conscious of what we wear and why we wear it.

42. What is your cultural background and how has that influenced how you dress?

I grew up in Texas, which is a culture of its own, particularly when it comes to buying clothes. Now that I live in the midwest, I realize how much shopping people do in Texas and what an strong emphasis is put on looking good in every situation. It can be stressful if you give into the cultural pressure to "do yourself up" to go to the grocery store. I still have a hard time going out of the house in sweats. But I don't feel the need to put on make-up anymore when I do errands. I don't know if that's a product of farm or midwest culture or just feeling more comfortable in my own skin.

51. If there was one country or culture or era that you had to live in, fashion-wise, what would it be?

I used to fantasize about living in England during the Romantic era because my body was made for those dresses.

What’s your birth date? 
Where were you born and where do you live now?

1977; Grew up in Texas; live on a farm in the midwest.

Say anything you like about your cultural/ethnic/economic background.

I come from a wealthy white Texas family. We don't come from old money but we do come from old Texas, many generations back.

What kind of work do you do?

I write and raise my kids--though neither job pays very well.

Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?

Married with three kids.

Please say anything you like about yourself that might put this survey into some sort of context.

I think I always felt grateful but very guilty that I grew up wealthy. Much of my adult life has been spent trying to either hide that I came from wealth, apologize for it, or try to do something to make up for my life-long overconsumption. That's why sustainability is very important to me relationally, economically, and theologically: because I don't want to live set apart from suffering.

How do you feel after filling out this survey?

That it's interesting to understand why we dress the way we do. That can lead to deeper psychological and cultural questions that are important to ask of ourselves.


I grew up in Texas and received a PhD in Creative writing. I've published poetry as well as articles on fairytales and farm life. I live with my family in rural Illinois where I feel the daily call of farm life, folly, food, and occasionally fairies.

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