“Mama, Grandma says that I look like you when you were little. Will you show me?”
My 4-year-old’s questions were becoming more inquisitive with each passing day.
“Of course! Let me find the box of pictures!”
I stood on tiptoes and pulled the box of photographs down from the closet shelf.
“Why are they in a box and not on your computer?” she asked.
“Well, back when I was a kid we had to walk uphill both ways to get anywhere and our phones were connected to the wall with cords.” I chuckled.
Maybe I’m not that funny, I thought. “Never mind. When I was your age we didn’t have computers, and we had to get our pictures printed on special paper.” This reminded me that I needed to print out some of my pictures — something I hadn’t done in a very, very long time.
“Mama, you do look like me but you kind of look like … a boy. Why did you dress like that?”
She was so right. She flipped through a few more, then stopped at the image of me in a frilly peach dress, ’80s curls sitting atop my head.
“Mom. You are so beautiful here! Do you still have that dress? Can I have it? Maybe it’s at Grandma’s house? Please, can we call and ask?”
“No sweetie, it’s gone. I’m sorry.”
She peered closer, nose touching the picture. “Why were you crying?”
I explained that as a child, I despised dresses. My mother would remind me for a week before a wedding, school picture days, or holiday programs, but even then I’d cry about dressing up. If someone was going to curl my hair, it didn’t matter how much of a reminder I’d get — there would be tears.
“I don’t understand, mama. Dresses are beautiful. Why would anyone cry if they had to wear a dress?”
She was right, of course. I know that now, thanks to her.
From a very young age, my daughter has been into “fashionable” things. She often calls herself a “fashion girl” (and a paleontologist, a geologist, a mermaid hunter, and a baker). Pink, the color I despised my entire life, is the color she identifies with most. Her blunt comments regarding my drab, earth-toned, and comfortable attire were a wakeup call for me. Besides, wouldn’t it be fun to allow my daughter to teach me a few things about fashion sense since I had never bothered to learn it on my own?
We live close to a consignment shop, which houses an incredible amount of clothing. I decided that I’d let my daughter choose something new for me at every visit. It didn’t take long before bright pinks, frilly purples, and even neon colors began rubbing shoulders in the closet with the browns and blacks. Let me tell you something: I love my pink striped shirt. I wear it proudly. It’s form fitting and while it shouts HERE I AM, I don’t actually mind.
My daughter regularly picks out my outfits from head to toe, no matter the occasion. She never picks my beloved jeans, but the hot pink skirt from one of our consignment shop trips is at the top of her list, sometimes paired with the flashy yellow ONE IN A MINION shirt I purchased as a joke years ago. Oh, and black-and-white striped knee-highs. Can’t forget those.
I’ve always been a minimalist when it comes to shoes. For years, I owned flip flops, a pair of summer shoes, winter boots, and galoshes. Period. This year, my daughter’s fashion sense inspired me to purchase some Chelsea boots. It took me weeks to not feel “too fancy,” but now that they’re not brand new, I love them.
She’s also taught me to enjoy the jewelry that I had stored away for years. She sits and admires rings and necklaces passed down generation to generation and asks me to tell her the stories of their origins. Her interest in beautiful things brings back the memories of family members she was never able to meet; their lives gone, but the memories resurrected in silvers and golds.
From my lack of confidence, I was hiding underneath the browns and blacks. I was afraid to be seen as spending too much time on myself. I didn’t want to slow down and take the time to care about which clothes looked nice and was only focused on comfort. My 4-year-old taught me that I can be comfortable and fancy at the same time.
So now, I slow down a little. I take my time. I buy myself new clothes once in awhile and stay away from earth-tones as much as I can. If something looks too flashy/gaudy/fashionable for me, I give it a second look anyways and try it on. I wear the jewelry that would make my grandparents proud.
Above all, I don’t care what other people think about my attire. Besides, I’ve gotten more compliments since my daughter’s fashion sense has crept into my wardrobe.
I’m hoping my daughter will continue to help me pick out clothes as she grows older, and I’m looking forward to seeing how her views of fashion change as she grows. Whatever happens, I hope she always holds the confidence to dress the way she wants, always.