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Laura Mayes

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Laura Mayes is an Emmy-winning writer, a founder of the Mom 2.0 Summit, Camp Mighty, Go Mighty, Kirtsy and her personal blog, Blog con Queso.

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Fear and Costume: The Bloggess and The Traveling Red Dress.

By Laura Mayes |

My friend Jenny is always coming up with these fantastic things that make her (and others) furiously happy. (!!!!!!)  You may know this about her. You may have heard about our Beyonce adventure. Or her WOLVERINES! campaign. Or her ongoing Wil Wheaton collating responses.  Or the time she and her readers saved Christmas.

But on this Halloween holiday, I’d like to talk about something more specifically related to fear and dressing up and furious happiness. I’d like to discuss the brilliance of the Traveling Red Dress adventures.

It started as almost everything does with Jenny…a random idea. She wanted to wear the dress but she couldn’t imagine doing it just for herself…she wanted to share the joy. Because, as silly as it may seem, there’s something a bit magical about that dress. In Jenny’s words...

I want, just once, to wear a bright red, strapless ball gown with no apologies.  I want to be shocking, and vivid and wear a dress as intensely amazing as the person I so want to be.  And the more I thought about it the more I realized how often we deny ourselves that red dress and all the other capricious, ridiculous, overindulgent and silly things that we desperately want but never let ourselves have because they are simply “not sensible”.  Things like flying lessons, and ballet shoes, and breaking into spontaneous song, and building a train set, and crawling onto the roof just to see the stars better.  Things like cartwheels and learning how to box and painting encouraging words on your body to remind yourself that you’re worth it.

So she got it. And she wore it. And she began sending the dress around to those who needed it for whatever reason. All different reasons. All have stories attached to them. And there are many…You can read about them here. (Top photo by Better in Bulk.)

Or here.

Or here.

Or here.


Or even about mine here.

Jenny brought this dress over to my house on my 40th birthday and insisted that we do a shoot. I say insisted because she did insist, but also because I was uncharacteristically hesitant. It wasn’t like I didn’t want to do it…I really, really wanted to do it…but I was also really scared of it. The dress is intimidating. It’s large. And it’s red. And I was uncomfortable with that much energy being focused on me and actually on me.

(And seriously, not to get all Northern California on you, but this dress has some serious energy attached to it. I can’t totally explain it, but imagine the thrill of the biggest-greatest party you’ve ever been to, add some angst from a middle-school tryout for something, plus a side of the excitement you felt on the first Halloween you can remember. It’s like that. Then multiply that energy times all the energy of anyone else who’s worn it, that’s The Energy-of-The-Dress math.)

Plus, if I’m honest, I’ll tell you I was afraid of what the photos would look like. I wasn’t sure that they’d match up to the way I felt in the dress. Or the way I felt about myself at 40. It’s complicated. But on about four levels, I would say, I didn’t want to see myself.

Because even though I still feel almost exactly like I did at 16, I know that I’m not. I’m not at all. The 16-year-old me was naive, and predictable, and safe. While my current self has lived enough and seen enough to know that life is anything but safe or predictable. Sometimes it’s shocking, disappointing, thrilling, and really scary. Sometimes it’s all those things at once. And sometimes the most shocking part is how you’re able to handle it, and how you’re able to wear it.

And that’s the thing about The Red Dress. It’s also the thing about Halloween. There’s power in putting on a costume…becoming something new, something uncharacteristic, something better.

I know tonight, as little kids everywhere don their fantastical princess outfits, their super hero leotards of justice, or (in our case) their super evil Darth Vader garb, for just a few hours, they’re becoming something completely different…and something completely themselves too.

I think costumes and masks get a bad wrap in life and in literature. Of course, it’s always preferable to be authentic, but I believe that sometimes it takes dressing up as something else to recognize who we are.

Happy Halloween.

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About Laura Mayes


Laura Mayes

Laura Mayes is an Emmy-winning writer, a founder of the Mom 2.0 Summit, Camp Mighty, Go Mighty, Kirtsy and her personal blog, Blog con Queso. Read bio and latest posts → Read Laura's latest posts →

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15 thoughts on “Fear and Costume: The Bloggess and The Traveling Red Dress.

  1. Carm says:

    As someone who adores Jenny and subsequently practically all of the people she loves and knows, but not in a scary stalker kind of way, I truly love this article and feel pretty excited to jump into MY “red dress” which looks eerily similar to a clown outfit and rock it even better than I did last year. AND YOU TWO ARE THE REASON – as are all the lovelies that have donned this Red Dress.

  2. Monika says:

    I’m a recent follower of Jenny, but have absolutely fallen in love with her, everyone & everything she knows and does. The red dress is amazing. I love all that it stands for, and I love the pictures of you in it (you look amazing,and nowhere close to 40)! I too am excited to put my own red dress on (not only tonight in the form of my red flapper dress, but every day in rocking who I am). Happy Halloween!

  3. Andi says:

    Fabulous red dress! I just love it and the energy it invokes in all the photos. Beautiful. And, thank you!
    Having just purchased my first sexy dress (little blue dress) at 58 to wear to my HS’s 40th reunion…I could have seen myself in this red dress.

  4. jassyau says:

    Another beautiful woman rocks the red dress. You look awesome!!

  5. Ashlie says:

    Ok…. How do I get a chance to wear the red dress? Cause lately, I could use some of the positive energy…

  6. Lolli @ Better in Bulk says:

    You are so right. That dress has some energy. It’s hard to explain until you’ve put it on. I feel privileged to have been able to experience the dress first hand, with a group of friends. It was magical.

  7. I adore ya Laura Mayes.

  8. Judy says:

    Laura, your words are as full of energy and excitement and passion as that beautiful red dress is on you. I’m so very lucky to have you as part of my family. Happy Halloween, dear. And to my Harry and, of course, Jimmy.

  9. Nicole @ My IdeaLife says:

    The dress and you are amazing! Makes me want to go out and do something crazy and escape the low-lying ever-present hum of my fears.
    Nicole x

  10. Miss Britt says:

    That last photo is so, so perfect.

  11. Justice Fergie says:

    love your shoot!! (and i also love your front porch, btw).

    that brown elbow in pic #6 at the top? that’s mine!!

  12. Padrino Ken says:

    I love these photos of you!

  13. [...] friend Jenny talks about her red dress moments. Well, I think my red dress is actually white. And I can’t wait to wear it. Even though I [...]

  14. icon set says:

    And, what here ridiculous?

    P.S. Please review Medizinische Icon Sammlung from coolicons82

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