When I was 14 and graduating from junior high school, I wore what I damn well pleased.
“What I damn well pleased” happened to be a slinky evening gown. It was a basic slinky evening gown, mind you, sleek and powder blue without frills. Since I was a late bloomer, I stuffed my foam bikini top pads in the top part of the dress to help fill it out.
I loved the dress. My mom was less sure of my unconventional choice.
“Are you sure you want to wear that dress? It’s an evening gown. Everyone else will dress more casual. You won’t fit in.”
I wore the dress to graduation despite my mom’s misgivings. She was right: everybody else wore simple floral sundresses or tops and basic shirts.
But you know what? I had no regrets. I felt fabulous in the dress, and no one teased me for my fashion choice.
Now that I’m a mom with a daughter of my own, I let her wear what she wants. I want my daughter to have the confidence to pull off any look she chooses. I also want her to be able to use clothing and accessories as a form of creative expression. After all, it’s her body and her choices for it.
My girl is almost 4, and for the last year or two, she has been able to dress herself in the mornings. We first check the weather, and then I let her choose her clothes within reason.
She has picked Thanksgiving shirts in spring, and Christmas dresses in summer. Usually with Trolls sunglasses. Maybe a fur coat. I totally cringe at her choices. My daughter is adorable no matter what, but it’d be nice if she could stay seasonally appropriate.
It’s funny, because although my daughter makes adventurous fashion choices, she is terribly picky about her clothes. God forbid if in the interest of time, I choose a pair of shirts or a shirt for her. She wants to choose HERSELF.
It’s kind of a shame, because she has so many different clothes gifted to her by my in-laws, but she often wants her long floral dress or an obscure get-up of her choosing.
It’s important to me that my daughter believe in her ability to make choices for herself, not only with clothes, but in life. I want her to be confident and not have to worry about being teased. I believe confidence can be a deterrent for teasing.
According to some experts, letting our kids choose their own clothes is a good way to let them exercise their opinions.
My daughter’s independent opinions don’t end with clothing. She demands different Disney princess hair styles, and then screams the entire time I brush her hair. Lacking in hair styling skills that i am, I’ll do the most basic version I can of a Disney princess hairdo interpretation. Jasmine hair simply involved a couple of rubber bands along a ponytail. But you know what? my daughter is happy, and choosing her own fashion path.
I hope that by letting my daughter make style choices now, I am setting the stage for a lifetime of self assurance.
When she is in high school and beyond, I want my daughter to feel comfortable expressing herself and speaking her mind. And if someone is nasty enough to tease her for what she wears or says, I have faith she will stand up for herself. And I will be right there behind her, maybe squished into that evening gown from 8th grade graduation, supporting her all the while.