Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Return Of The Skirt

My eldest daughter has always had a flair for fashion. Even as a toddler, she was aware of what she wanted to wear and of putting together "cute" outfits. I believe in letting kids have some freedom in their clothing choices, within reason dependent on weather, so I was fine with letting her experiment. I figure it's a way for them to assert some independence while also expressing who they are as people.

Anyhoo.....She would put things together that made me raise my eyebrow, until I saw it in it's entirety. Things that seemingly "shouldn't go" would look really great on her. She also loved wearing skirts, dresses and anything stereotypically girly.

When we moved 3 years ago to our new small town, slowly, that seemed to change. I chalked it up partly to age and wanting to assimilate to what everyone else was wearing, but I also sensed a reluctance in her to "be herself."

My once arty and girly girl traded in her skirts and funky matches for a uniform of leggings and oversize hoodies day in and day out. I sat back and watched as all of her rows and drawers of clothing sat neglected, in favour of the same 'ol, same 'ol. When I asked her what was up, or why she wasn't wearing anything but 5 articles in rotation, she just shrugged and said, "No one here dresses like that, Mom." Of course, you can guess, that this led to the standard Mom lecture about being yourself and not conforming to what everyone else was doing and "if they all jumped off of a bridge, would you?" yada yada. Even I was tuning myself out.

When pressed, she would admit that if she dared wear something funky, or girly, she got such a razzing that it just wasn't worth the headache. The easier solution was to just wear what let her blend in to a new school and a new environment, and make new friendships. As a Mom though, it broke my heart because she'd always been so strong in who she was and what she liked, and I didn't want to see her let that go.

So, here we are again having moved once more. She's at a new school with new friends. On the first day, she decided to wear a skirt and set a precedent and a message. Since that day, she's worn skirts weekly, at least. She pairs them with leggings and colourful tights and boots or runners. She's back to enjoying clothing and all of the various pairings that are out there that she can make.

I asked her how the kids here dress, and if they wear skirts too. She said they dress "normal" (she's a preteen so that's about as much of an answer as I can expect these days) and don't really wear skirts or dresses. I commented that she seemed to be back to wearing them with regularity again. She said she felt much more like she could just be herself here, and that even though others weren't wearing them, they weren't catty when SHE did. My heart skipped a little in my chest hearing those words.

It was painful to watch her essence, as it were, slip away for a few years. I could see the sadness and discomfort in her eyes as she held back both in clothing choice and in other ways as well. I can't tell you how exciting and encouraging it has been to see that all come alive again.

It's the return of the skirt, but that skirt represents so much more. Clothing isn't just about fashion. Sometimes, it's about spirit too-and I'm loving seeing that girly flag fly.

1 comment:

  1. Good for her! I remember what it was like to be that age...I just wanted to be like everyone else. It takes a lot of bravery to be different and go against what others think is cool. I didn't have it then...I hope Jaden will have it now. Sometimes I see it...sometimes I don't.