If the costume options for girls are leaving you a little despondent this Halloween, you might want to throw the catalogs aside and take a look at Stella Ehrhart’s collection.
Ehrhart, an 8-year-old from Omaha, has been dressing up in costume almost every day for over a year and not once has she taken inspiration from Monster High dolls, not once has she resorted to derivations on a French maid’s uniform, not once has she even ordered from a catalog.
Instead, Ehrhart has flipped through the pages of a favorite book, “100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century” and headed straight to her closet to figure out how to create the look. According to a story about Ehrhart in the Omaha World-Herald, the girl is a bit of a hoarder and likes turning trash into reusable objects. That’s also how she approaches the costumes, which aren’t always obvious but still work.
She has attended school as Billy Holiday (black dress, paper flower behind her ear), Joan Baez (army green jacket, jeans and boots), Princess Grace (long pink gown, hair in a sleek low bun), Sandra Day O’Connor (black robe) and Queen Elizabeth (smart suit and a gaggle of Corgies?).
It all started on the second day of second grade, when she showed up as Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her friends and teacher loved it, so she tried again the next day. Ehrhart crunched the numbers and figured she could get through all 100 important women and she has — including a few extras like showing up as her school principal.
The costumes have been a great starting off point for historical discussions in her class and, since she kept it low-key, the project was embraced by her teachers and classmates.
I felt exhausted after reading about her commitment to costumes, which tend to feel like a burden to me this time of year. But that’s part of the loveliness of her story: this was all Ehrhart’s idea and execution. She might have bounced ideas off of her mom and dad, both of whom are involved in theater, but the details were all Ehrhart’s to handle.
Still, like all good ideas, all acts of art, there’s an endpoint and Ehrhart is seeing it. She’s going to repeat a couple of costumes this year and then, after the holidays, start dressing exactly like her peers: in a school uniform.
I wonder what she’ll be for Halloween. I kind of doubt it’ll be as pink-haired Rochelle Goyle.