Some things one just does not do in the Hutterite community, and one of those things is veer from the traditional dress for women.
Modesty was the focus of the women on National Geographic Channel’s Meet the Hutterites, this week and, of course, a big issue for Hutterites in general at all times.
That is easily understood by anyone, it would seem. But, is it necessary that “modesty” be equated with “ugly?”
Sewing is a must for Hutterite women, as they are expected to make all of the clothes their husbands and children—and themselves, of course—will wear.
But, is it necessary that the patterns used and cloth selected be so downright unattractive?
One Huliq reader, who identified herself as being raised as a Seventh Day Adventist and unable to wear pants to school as a girl, broached this topic in a comment on an earlier article:
I can totally see Claudia’s aversion to the clothing. I believe that even for a Hutterite, it is possible to design fashionable yet modest clothing.
It seems like all the women are wearing the exact same pattern of the most awful prints possible.
I guess they are sack like jumpers with an under blouse, unless the ‘jumper’ has sleeves.
As a former seamstress and artist, I know I could design more fashionable clothing even with modesty as a primary goal.
I have pictures of ancestors who were icons of modesty with beautiful clothing.
For example, what about a tailored denim jumper with lots of embroidery and a matching blouse for starters.
I have never seen such strange fabric, and can’t imagine where they are shopping for these prints.
In frontier days, lots of calico was used, certainly an improvement over the current dress. Even their aprons could be designed to match certain dresses.
The Hutterites have their ways—everyone watching this show no doubt understands that by now.
However, the younger generation has new ideas, and Claudia is determined to drag them forward one way or another, right or wrong.
And, that is the bigger question: Is her determination to change things right or wrong?
Claudia is such a beautiful girl, and she seems so unhappy being a Hutterite, because she is allowed no individuality.
Trying on “English” clothes in an “English” store, she seemed to realize how unhappy she really is in the colony:
“It’s weird, but being this happy breaking tradition makes me feel guilty.
I feel pretty and feminine, and it’s sad to me that being an individual is against the rules.”
It is sad that she is so unhappy. But, then again, this tradition of dress seems to be the Hutterite way.
Perhaps Claudia is just not cut out to be a Hutterite.
Room In Tradition For Compromise?
It’s sad that these young girls have to sneak around in the middle of the night to just make a dress that is not dark and dreary.
It is sad that they seem to live in so much fear. It is sad that they are not allowed to express any individuality without facing punishment.
And, it’s sad that Claudia would have to say, “I’m living proof that you can have fun as a Hutterite; you just have to sneak it.”
But, apparently, these things are all part of Hutterite tradition.
There is a definite rift between the younger generation and the older one, at least in this Hutterite colony.
As time goes on, it will be interesting to see—assuming this show continues beyond Season One—how this rift is managed.
Or, particularly in Claudia’s case, if it ultimately will be.
And, just an observation: For someone who didn’t know how to sew at all at the beginning of the episode, Claudia certainly did do a good job on designing and creating her dress, didn’t she?