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.
buttons on clothing – cars – chopped-off hair – computers – electricity – jewellery – makeup – radio – telephones – television
white headcovering – black bonnets – solid-coloured clothing, usually in dark colours
This is a Mennonite girl*.
chopped-off hair – jewellery – makeup – radio – television
cars – computers – electricity – headcovering (the style will vary minimally from region to region) – plain cape dress, either solid or floral – telephones
This is an ordinary girl (ie, post-Mennonite me in my work attire):
Note the lack of head covering! The necklace! The short skirt! The chopped hair! WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE THIS IS NOT AMISH. HELLO.
*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.