My daughter is one of those children who one might describe as "fashion forward". I shouldn't be surprised by her consisted and increasingly creative wardrobe combinations, but I am. She will come up with all sorts or color combinations never thought of. She will layer clothing in unusual ways (why wouldn't people wear tanks over sweaters?). I never know what she might use as a hair accessory. There are no rules on what shoes should go with what outfit or for what occasion. After having a year of Kindergarten forced to wear uniforms, she wore her Dorothy costume for her first day of Homeschool. She has rocked a yarn wig and tiara in public on non-Halloween related occasions. Let me tell you how awesome all this really is.
I have read all the parenting tips to let your child express their creativity. I have understood how important creativity is for children and adults. I have pushed down the shocked looks that try to appear on my face and suppressed comments or desires to bring my daughter out to dinner in more normal looking attire. I have shrugged off comments about her interesting choice of clothing from others. I have however recently started to appreciate and even attempt to celebrate her complete uniqueness.
My daughter is approaching ten years old. The changes are coming fast and don't think I am unaware. There are already boy-crazy girls her age and brand-focused children in her peer group. She, however, not only maintains her incredible creativity (she writes, draws, creates, and performs like nobody else), but she has an incredible self-identity. She could care less if someone doesn't approve of what she wears or looks at her funny. She is proud of whatever she looks like or however silly (I mean when she acts goofy on purpose) she wants to be. She is the most generous, unselfish, compassionate and confident girl of any age I may have ever met. I don't just say that because she is my daughter, really. Ask anyone who knows her.
What does this mean for her future? I firmly believe it gives her a fighting chance against peer pressure, conformity, and poor self esteem. Sure, there is a whole world hoping against her. I just want to make sure I am on her side, not the world's. That means smiling when she made some wild hand motions and dance movements up to the songs in church last Sunday, rather calming her motions in case they were distracting to others (I am sure they were a little but we are singing, not listening to a preacher). This even means I really need to push myself to be more like her, showing her that being an adult doesn't mean you can't be a little silly, different, or confident. This probably means the next time she does my hair- I will be rocking it in public as well. So if you see a fellow mom with the confidence to go out with bows in her hair or see a child wearing chaps and cowboy boots to the grocery store (that would be my son who though more conservative than my daughter, is greatly influenced by her), don't judge or snicker or look shocked. Give a smile and think: here is one less child who may escape the horrific things that peer pressure and low self-esteem brings. One child who may fight against suicide, drugs, sexual pressures and just overall conformity. Maybe that one child will change the world.