Melissa Oro

In fashion, religion is the new black

By  Melissa Oro, Youth Speak News
  • May 3, 2013

Whether I’m roaming the streets of downtown Toronto or scanning through Instagram pictures online, I notice religious symbols are increasingly being used as fashion statements.

It’s an age-old tradition, but the meaning behind this latest trend has changed.

These religious symbols attract youth for various, completely different reasons.

I spotted the inverted cross of St. Peter on several shirts. Wearing it should mean the wearer is showing humility and unworthiness before Christ. St. Peter had requested to be crucified upside down because he did not feel worthy of dying the same way as Jesus. But today, this specific cross is immediately recognized as a symbol of defiance against Christianity.

Stores have been selling more clothing articles with traditional symbols because of a boom among young people using symbols for fashion. Enter a store in the Toronto Eaton Centre and you will be bombarded with shirts that have huge crosses planted on them or pants with tiny little ones scattered all around. And there are plenty of accessories that are shaped like the cross.

It’s as if the cross no longer represents Christianity, but rather just another seemingly ordinary design, completely removed from what Christ’s crucifixion truly meant. People who are not Christian will wear clothes with the symbol.

The cross is not the only religious symbol popular in fashion trends of our day. So are the rosary and “Jesus pieces,” or pendants made in the likeness of Jesus, worn on a heavy rope-style necklace.

Many teens wear these accessories not acknowledging the original meaning behind them. By wearing crosses on their shirt, they want to be considered a “hipster.” Many hip hop artists have worn “Jesus pieces” and, consequently, many young people insist on having the same “swag” as their favourite artists.

Fashion among youth can be subject to a snowball effect. With social media like Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube, teens are able to see what other teens are wearing. If one person posts a picture of themselves with a cross as an accessory, others who see it may think it’s unique and fresh and are willing to go to great lengths to buy it or something similar.

And the cycle continues.

(Oro, 16, is a Grade 11 student at St. Joseph’s College School in Toronto.)

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