A pretty inane observation (from a bleary head following another wearying but fruitful 80+ hour week):
Amish toddlers seem to have an unusual attraction to leg hair.
At least a couple times a week, as I stand there in my shorts showing some books to dad in the barnyard, the less-shy two year old will come up and take a grab or two at the hair on my legs. Why?
Maybe it’s because the legs the little squirts are surrounded by normally are cloaked in coarse work trousers, no matter how hot out. It’s a natural curiosity. I guess.
This aren’t the deepest thoughts I’ve ever shared here, I know. But kind of a funny feeling to have the little guys swiping around at your legs while trying to demonstrate the merits of your product to a stone-faced Amish poppa.
You came to realize something, my friend realize this weekend when we went on a bike tour around Howe,Lagrange,Shipse. in Indiana. You were the odd one being looked at,etc…
As we rode by the houses and the little children would stand or some sat in chairs by the road they would watch us go by and point and wave. Some houses the mother and children offered lemonade and sweets for sale at stands and we found that very nice, because they all held a conversation with us, telling us about their new school building, how many acres they had, etc…
Did you think of shaving them ? 😉
I remarked that the children tend to stare at my sandaled feet … 🙂
TJK, lot of friendly folks in northern Indy, aren’t there? You were in some beautiful country (and probably easier bike riding than hilly Lancaster or Holmes!) One of my favorite Amish settlements.
Emma, that is an idea. Plus I’d be a faster swimmer. But it kind of tickles, and that makes me laugh, so I would miss that part!
It would be more considerate of them if you wore something that covered more of your body. It might actually be more considerate of everyone. 🙂
Happens round the world...
I’ve heard of Westerners in China encountering similar reactions from small children in villages. Children round the world are fascinated by differences .. and not inhibited about pointing them out.
C.U., I agree long pants are they way to go…not just for modesty, but you never know what you might run into, and long pants have saved my legs from many a scratch during outdoor treks.
I agree with C.U. and Ed that it would be much more modest and respectful to wear long pants. I realize this post is over 4 years old, but I am very surprised at you, Erik, that you would dress in shorts. I should think you would sell more books if you were more respectful.
I almost always wear a skirt and head covering when visiting the community, especially if I know I will be going into anyone’s house or their community market. Always at least long, loose pants.
Joan I appreciate yours and others’ comments, and do respect your viewpoints on dress. You mention that “you would sell more books if you were more respectful”. Actually if I wore long pants I would have probably sold *less* books, because I would have gone nuts in the summer heat for 14 hours (honestly, I don’t know how people do it).
It’s possible that I may have lost a sale or two over 4 years because of wearing shorts, but it’s not something that really came to mind, mainly because I didn’t really ever sense it was an issue for people. Maybe they just saw me as English, and knew that I might do things a little differently but that I still tried to treat people well and had a (I thought) otherwise neat appearance. Maybe I’m wrong, but if people were offended by it, I think that would have gotten around via the grapevine.
I was raised wearing shorts in the hot and humid NC summers, we played soccer and other sports growing up, and as I’ve alluded to on other posts I’ve never really felt neat shorts are all that immodest. Maybe some disagree with this, and that is their prerogative. Nowadays, I do almost always wear long pants when I visit Amish friends, but I have also asked if they would find my wearing shorts offensive. Based on their response I still occasionally do wear shorts, say when working outside at their place on hotter days.
To give another example, like a number of Amish, one family I stay with has a swimming hole on their property. When male family members go swimming it is not wearing full Amish clothes–it almost seems like that would defeat the purpose.
Amish know English aren’t going to do everything the same way they do. That applies to driving a car, using public electricity, and also appearance. There are violations of decency (the obvious ones we all know) but I think that there are ways of being decent that fall short of the Amish standard, but are still accepted by them when done by English.
I respect your wearing of a head covering when visiting Amish, but if you don’t wear one in your everyday life, I don’t see the point of doing it when visiting Amish. As long as you’re otherwise decent they’ll be fine with you either way.
Erik- I do wear a head covering most all the time anyway because of head surgery I had 3 years ago. It helps with the pain. I always wear it in my own church, too, and always also wear a plain skirt and shirt to their services. When I visit with them or drive for them, I wear a skirt unless I am sure I will not be going into their house. It really is an issue in this Old Order community. I now also wear a skirt to my own church. I would much rather wear pants, but have read the relevant Scriptures on the subject and do agree with what it says.