Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Why kids and pensioners and Lady Gaga have it all figured out.

Browsing through the clothes in H&M, I paused at a beautiful short green dress with a bronze diamond waist panel - it looked like the kind of thing Wonder Woman might wear if she were going to a special function, or, you know, maybe just the grocery store. Leaving the fantasy dress on the rack I moved onto a far more practical knee-length black wool dress, which would go nicely with black ballet flats.

As I paid for the dress I ran over the reasons in my head why I'd probably never buy the dress I really liked: it was too short; it was too young; it was too sparkly; I'd have no place to wear it; I wasn't Wonder Woman; it was too expensive. Etc.

But, if in some strange universe where I didn't have all those excuses and inhibitions, I'd buy that dress, and I'd wear it with gold pumps dammit. And red lipstick and red nail polish. And I'd dye my hair blond, just to see what it looked like. I've always wanted to know...

I wondered, as I walked away with my black wool dress what, exactly, I was afraid of, and why it was so difficult to admit to liking the things I really liked.

The next day, in a different store, my three-year old son unhesitatingly pointed to a pack of pink My Little Pony stickers, lined up next to Transformers, monster trucks and aliens. "I want this one Mummy." He said decisively.


Unlike me and my hang-ups, he went right in and picked out exactly what he wanted. Never mind social ideals and gender stereotypes and peer pressures. His decision-making process consisted of one thought: whether or not he liked it. Unbelievable. I want to bottle this ability to be unimpeded by external pressures and keep it forever. Because when else in your life are you this free?

If a boy wants to wear a pink feather boa and run up and down the street roaring like a lion, well okay. If a girl wants to put on a Darth Veda outfit with a pink tutu and wave a light saber, so what? Not an eyelid is bat.

And as you get older, quirky isn't always funny or cute any more. Unless, of course, you're Lady Gaga or it's Halloween.



I have this theory, that when it comes to being who you really want to be, life goes in three cycles:

1. You start out as a young child, so far untouched by peer pressure and self-consciousness, free to explore and be whoever you want.

2. A few years go by and suddenly you become self-aware. You discover that things like fitting in and making friends and being accepted are important. And those luminous polka dot pants you thought were cool because your parents said so? Not cool. You begin to withdraw the eccentricities. You learn how to dress and act the right way.

3. At some point as you get older, you stop trying to fit in and start finding confidence in the person you really are. You realize all those years you spent worrying about what was socially acceptable was totally overrated and that, in fact, you should totally have bought that leopard print leotard and dyed your hair lime green twenty years ago. Because really, the world won't crumble around you and your friends won't desert you. (Warning: Your friends may desert you and the world may crumble if you dye your hair lime green.) 

I think that's why some people become completely eccentric with old age and finally embrace the things they love, even if they are seemingly ridiculous and unsuitable. Because it's taken them a life time to figure it out. I, for one, totally plan on being an eccentric silver-haired pensioner with super fashionable clothes and shoes. And people will tell my grandkids how lucky they are to have such a cool grandma.




Photo from Advanced Style



I just hope it doesn't take me that long to figure it out...



Stumble ThisFav This With TechnoratiAdd To Del.icio.usDigg ThisAdd To Reddit Bookmark Twitter

9 comments:

Midwest Mommy said...

Very true! This post really made me think.

Elaine A. said...

My guy would choose "Hello Kitty". I love kids' individuality too! And you're gonna rock those sunglasses as a cool Grandma - I just know it!!

..... Carmen said...

So true - and I had a number of years up until HighSchool (other than Grade 9 where I dyed my hair brilliant red with Koolaid to be Raggedy Anne at Halloween... it took 3 months to come out!) where I know I dressed and acted in a way just to fit in... then I hit University.... I dyed my hair bleach blonde, got my nose pierced. The year following, I took out my nose ring and flew around the world to live in Africa (everybody except me thought this was a ridiculous idea). I think it is the art minded person in me that likes to do things a little bit differently. I say, if you truly want that green dress - go get it. And take J out for drinks so you can wear it with gold pumps :) Did you buy M the stickers?

Lady Mama said...

Carmen - seriously, you dyed your hair red with Koolaid? That's hilarious. Absolutely I bought him the stickers!

Momma Sunshine said...

I love that my seven-year-old is still very much a "go her own way" kinda kid. She likes Transformers and superheroes and princesses and fairies all at the same time.

I hope she hangs onto that forever....

Lady Mama said...

I had all the pink girlie toys AND the transformers too. The best way I think.

Mwa said...

I would say go buy the dress, but then I wouldn't either. I had a few years of dressing exactly how I wanted, got it out of my system, and now I conform a bit more. People seemed scared of me when I had my mohican. They never knew what to make of me - pink party dress one day, black combats the next. Now I suppose I'm more approachable which makes it easier to make new friends.

Angela said...

Reminds me of a quotation I once read:

At the age of 20, we don't care what the world thinks of us; at the age of 30, we worry about what it is thinking of us; at 40, we discover that it wasn't thinking of us at all....

Are you 40 yet? I am. :)

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Loved this! I often think, "that's too young for me." And while it's a great way to save money, it's a real bummer in the self esteem department.