Appendix A: The Plain, the Plainer, and the Unplain

Before I say anything else, accept this advice: If you’ve ever read any Amish Christian fiction, pretty much disregard everything you think you know. If you haven’t ever read any Amish Christian fiction, I really really like you and want to be your BFF, because Amish Christian fiction is the stupidest thing on the planet. (No, I don’t feel strongly about this at all.)

This is an Amish girl.

Drawing of an Amish Girl

NO:

buttons on clothing – cars – chopped-off hair – computers – electricity – jewellery – makeup – radio – telephones – television

YES:

white headcovering – black bonnets – solid-coloured clothing, usually in dark colours

This is a Mennonite girl*.

Drawing of a Mennonite Girl

NO:

chopped-off hair – jewellery – makeup – radio – television

YES:

cars – computers – electricity – headcovering (the style will vary minimally from region to region) – plain cape dress, either solid or floral – telephones

This is an ordinaryย  girl (ie, post-Mennonite me in my work attire):

Drawing of an ordinary girl

Note the lack of head covering! The necklace! The short skirt! The chopped hair! WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE THIS IS NOT AMISH. HELLO.

Any questions?**

_____

*Conservative Mennonite. Mennonites range widely in “plainness” from something somewhat closer to Amish, all the way to looking like anyone else you might run into on the street. I was a conservative Mennonite; for the purposes of this page I am limiting my scope to my personal experience.

**If this all sounds like snark, then you are correct. On the rare instance that I share about my religious past with someone, almost invariably the first question is, “Did you have electricity? Cars?”***

People just don’t get it, and it seems that no amount of explaining can really get this through to people’s heads, that “plain” does not automatically equate “Amish”, just as “denim skirt” does not automatically equal “homeschooler”.

The primary beef I have with Amish Christian fiction is that if you ain’t lived it, you can’t write it, because you’ll simply never get it. Having the input of your uncle’s hairdresser’s ex-Amish neighbour doesn’t count. Visiting the family of your uncle’s hairdresser’s ex-Amish neighbour for a week likewise doesn’t count. End of story.

***I’m not the only ex-Mennonite who has had this question posed to them. It is, I believe, an assumption universally acknowledged, that a woman in possession of a plain past must have been in want of all modern conveniences.

5 comments on “Appendix A: The Plain, the Plainer, and the Unplain

  1. ladygoat says:

    Wow. Well, I never knew. I feel enlightened!

    Although plain has never equalled Amsh to me… I don’t head that direction til I see the head covering.

    I HAVE read Amish fiction but very little and never liked it. Friends? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • JB says:

      ๐Ÿ™‚ I admit I’ve only actually read one Amish series (Beverly Lewis’ Shunning series) back before Amish fiction was The Rage. But that was enough… now all i have to do is look at the covers to groan. My one friend’s husband calls them “bonnet rippers”. lol.

  2. I didn’t know this either! Although I am afraid to say I have thoroughly enjoyed the Lewis books ๐Ÿ˜ But, it is fiction… so I’ll keep it at that. And hopefully our friendship’s length, albeit based online, will overcome your disdain for readers of Lewis haha.

    I’m really intrigued by this new found information!

    • JB says:

      Well, I myself have read her, hence my ability to be judgy, lol. I expect they would be good reading to the outsiders… ๐Ÿ™‚

      (Fear not, I am still your friend!)

  3. I have read that same set. But I never confused Mennonites and Amish (at least, not since we moved to Oregon). I recognize that they are very different, although apparently the Mennonites have a dark side too, one we haven’t seen personally. We are friends with a number of Mennonites living near us–slightly more liberal than the ones you grew up with (the pastor has a piano in his house–right in the dining room!). We enjoy singing with them and have made many friends. Many of them are open to the health message, and my husband gave one who is a school teacher a nice copy of the book Education.

    But yeah, I’ve never confused the two. I always knew one used modern conveniences and the other did not.

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