On Freaks And Geeks And Princesses, And Why Lady Gaga Is More Like Jesus Than You Think

October 13, 2010

Last week, Emilia went to school in a Snow White costume. She wore it with striped leggings and her hot pink skate shoes, the ones with the sparkly laces, and also a baseball cap. “I’m not really a princess, Mommy,” she informed me, “I’m just pretending to be one, because I like this dress.” Which summarizes her approach to fashion more or less perfectly: the determining factor, for Emilia, in selecting any article of clothing – shirt, pants, shoes, underpants – is simply “I just like it.” How things fit, whether or not they match, whether or not they are in season: these considerations are irrelevant. All that matters, to Emilia, is whether or not each individual item of clothing appeals to Emilia’s unique and ever-changing tastes, and whether the resulting outfit reflects to her, as she puts it, her “own self.”

This is Emilia, then, as her “own self” (Sporty Pretend Princess Edition):

october tots 022 3

… (I Like Stripes And Shorts Edition):

budge style stripe

… (Today I Like Pink But Not On My Legs Edition):

budge style 5

… (Dark Tinkerbell Goes To The NBA Edition):

budge style 4

For the most part, I just let Emilia wear whatever the hell she wants to wear. I draw the line at clothes that are soiled or so ill-fitting as to be uncomfortable, and I make sure that anything she heads out the door in is weather-appropriate and (obviously) age-appropriate, and if she’s headed to school she always has a change of clothes in her bag in case she decides, for any reason, that she no longer wishes to be dressed like a skateboarding Snow White, but otherwise, she’s free to make her choices.

I give her this freedom, in part, because I am just not interested in fighting her on her clothing choices – I believe that parents must pick their battles, and this is one that I see little to no benefit in fighting – but I give it to her, too, because it brings her such joy. She loves picking out her clothes. She likes to set them out the night before – every item, from underpants to socks – and give a detailed explanation as to why each article of clothing was selected (‘I’ll wear this shirt because it’s green and I feel like it will be a green day tomorrow. And my jeans with the ladybugs because ladybugs like green leaves and my shirt is green like leaves. And my Tinkerbell underwear because fairies have wings like ladybugs. And my Spiderman shoes. Because I like Spiderman.”) Then she puts on her outfit the next day and goes about her business, happy and secure in the knowledge that she looks, as she says, “like her own self.” She’s been doing this since she figured out how to open the drawers of her dresser, which was sometime before she turned two, so she’s got this personal style thing pretty well figured out by now. It’s eccentric, and it’s her, and I, for one, am not going to get in the way of it.

Which, apparently, makes me a bad parent:

FYI, there is a difference between eccentricity and being a plain old weirdo. And kids DO know the difference. You’re not fostering imagination so much as building a chasm.

And:

Hm, when given the choice between having the weird kid none of the other kids plays with (or whose moms turn their noses up at), or steering my child in the direction of acceptable, socially normal attire, I daresay I’d err on the side of not the outcast or freak. I applaud. Your attempts to instill a sense of adventure in your children, but at what cost? You show photos of your children’s eccentricities, and rather than thinking “oh, cute kid,” most of us are wondering how that child is going to turn out. Sure, rain jackets and knee socks are cute, but at home, not at school. Yes, the other kids and moms are judging.

To which I say: thank you! Thank you for providing me with another set of criteria for determining what kinds of moms to avoid, and for summarizing, so neatly, how parental attitudes can contribute to a culture of shaming and bullying.

Anyway.

John Stuart Mill argued that eccentricity – that is, the freedom of individuals to be eccentric, to express themselves eccentrically, to hold and propound eccentric ideas and to do eccentric things – was not only a hallmark of a free society, but a necessary feature of any progressive society: new ideas, after all, can only be borne from innovation and experimentation, and old ideas (or values or habits) that are not or are no longer good (however defined) can only be revealed as such when some are willing to reject the old in favor of the new, and this is the province of eccentricity. He also argued, however, that there is a tendency in the mass of any population to recoil against eccentricity – regarding expressions or demonstrations of eccentricity as ‘weird’ or ‘strange’ or ‘dangerous’ – and to actively or (more insidiously) passively discourage eccentric behavior or action or speech. Socrates, who was condemned to death for corrupting the youth of Athens with his strange ideas, is one of Mill’s favorite examples of the damned eccentric. Jesus is another.

Emilia, of course, is not emulating Socrates or Jesus when she wears a Snow White costume to school or when she pairs argyle socks with shorts and a raincoat, nor do I, as her mother, have any delusion that by allowing or encouraging her to express her whimsy sartorially I am changing the world. But I do believe that children’s whimsy should be encouraged, and not repressed, and that any child who expresses the desire to march bravely forward into the world with her heart and imagination on her sleeve, regardless of what other people might think, should be supported in that desire. I believe this, because I believe that children who are taught that difference is okay, who are encouraged to understand that looking different or sounding different or moving different are not markers of weirdness or badness, who are encouraged to freely express their own difference, who are discouraged from ‘turning up their noses’ and judging others as ‘outcasts’ or ‘freaks’ just because they are different, I believe that in those children resides our best hope for changing the world for the better.

But that’s just me. Maybe there’s an argument to be made that repressing children’s impulses to individuality and suggesting to them that any appearance of difference is rightfully judged as ‘freakish’ and that they should, like their parents, turn up their noses at such difference represents the greater contribution to their well-being and to the public good. If there is, I’d love to hear it.

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    { 158 comments }

    Erica October 13, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    kudos to you! my oldest daughter is 2 and wears blue rainboots quite often. i’m not fighting over her choice of shoes!! you’re giving your daughter the freedom to be who she is- and loving her regardless. i think that’s the most important thing you could teach her.

    Jennifer October 13, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Children only know clothing is ‘different’ or ‘weird’ if we force those descriptions on them.

    Who knows what genius, what potential is inside your daughter? I wouldn’t want to be the one to stifle her imagination at such a young age. Good for you, allowing her to express herself. She’ll figure out conformity, and decide how much she wants to conform, soon enough. These years of precious imagination will only last a little while.

    bea October 13, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    Those writers’ concern for Emilia’s social well-being is very touching, but I suspect a tad misplaced – I’ve always thought of Emilia as someone who is going to do very well indeed in social settings. She seems confident and extroverted and those qualities are far more important than bland clothing when it comes to navigating peer groups.
    .-= bea´s last blog ..Good Writer- Bad Person =-.

    emily October 13, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Oh! And another commenter just made me think of something else I wanted to say…the whole “we’re ALL judging her and you” thing? Right. That’s her way of justifying her own feelings, by trying to normalize them. She doesn’t KNOW that. And in my experience- the judging is much less common.
    .-= emily´s last blog .. =-.

    kelly @kellynaturally October 13, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    And to this: “Yes, the other kids and moms are judging” I shout loudly, “WHO CARES?!?!?!?”

    Because those “other kids & moms” who would feel the need to cast judgment on a child or that child’s mother for their outfit choice are NOT ones whose judgments I would care one wit about.

    True friends, you are teaching Amelia, are those who accept you for who you ARE, not what you look like.

    And, no less important:

    Well behaved women seldom make history.
    .-= kelly @kellynaturally´s last blog ..Have a Magical Day =-.

    Julie @ The Mom Slant October 13, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    Apologies upfront – I’ve had a few drinks.

    Who the fuck do those critics think they are? Either they’ve never had a little girl in the age 3-6 range, or they’re so controlling that their own little girls never had a chance to express themselves.

    One of my girls has gone through the Punky Brewster phase, and the other is smack dab in the middle of it. I posted a Twitpic recently of her in a tie-dyed tee paired with Lilly Pulitzer (blame my mother) pants. That was one of her tamer outfits.

    You can try to make them into who you want them to be, or who you think their classmates and their classmates’ parents want them to be, and NO ONE WILL EVER BE HAPPY. Least of all your child. Allow them to develop their own sense of style (among other characteristics). (I could go on for paragraphs, but I’ll stop.)

    I’ve also dyed pink streaks in my older daughter’s hair, so perhaps I’m a bit more liberal in these matters than most mothers.
    .-= Julie @ The Mom Slant´s last blog ..Malcolm Gladwell doesn’t like my kind of activism =-.

    Catherine October 14, 2010 at 10:06 am

    @Julie @ The Mom Slant, no apologies, lady. I love it when you’re feisty ;)
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..On Freaks And Geeks And Princesses- And Why Lady Gaga Is More Like Jesus Than You Think =-.

    JustMom420zaks October 13, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    I think it’s lovely. I applaud your acceptance and encouragment to your daughter to BE HERSELF. She doesn’t appear to be anything but happy and well adjusted. In a few years time, she’ll undoubtably give into the pressures of “dressing like all the other girls” why in the world would you want to speed that process up?
    Screw those trolls, some people just want to dredge up the most negative crap they can find about a subject. My mom always told me that those people are just unhappy with themselves and want to bring everyone else down.
    .-= JustMom420zaks´s last blog ..Misadventures in Babysitting =-.

    genny October 13, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    I think she looks GREAT…she has a future in clown school. :)

    Catherine October 14, 2010 at 10:07 am

    @genny, god, she would so love clown school. or circus school. /am doomed
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..On Freaks And Geeks And Princesses- And Why Lady Gaga Is More Like Jesus Than You Think =-.

    northTOmom October 13, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    I think your daughter looks adorable, but more important, she has the air of a child who is comfortable in her own skin.

    I took a slightly different tack with my twin daughters, who are now 11. I tried to teach them a few basic “rules” or norms of dressing–e.g., matching, seasonality, weather-appropriateness–and then let them break them when they felt like it. The problem is that now that they are at an age when there is a lot of peer pressure to conform, they don’t choose to break the “rules” very often. I find myself trying to encourage them to be more adventuresome in the way they dress. But they’ve gotten to the point where they’d prefer to fall under the radar: they want to be cool, but not too cool, fashionable but not too fashionable. So my approach has probably backfired. (In my defense, I did it because my own mother gave me no sense of the “norms” of dressing, and as a result I struggled–sometimes painfully–to understand them for a long time.)
    .-= northTOmom´s last blog ..Breeding Tolerance- Is it Possible =-.

    Catherine October 14, 2010 at 9:57 am

    @northTOmom, I think that it’s a great idea to talk about some of the norms. We do, v.v. weather-appropriateness and seasonality (matching is a losing argument), and then let her decide, within reason. Shorts are always a battle, though. Emilia would wear shorts year ’round, if she could.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..On Freaks And Geeks And Princesses- And Why Lady Gaga Is More Like Jesus Than You Think =-.

    Suzanne October 13, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    I think Socrates was teaching that the government should be run by the few as opposed to even the limited form of democracy the Greeks had and I don’t really support that… but as for the clothes, I’m all for letting kids find joy in dressing themselves. When or if they hit funny looks or comments we have discussions with them about society and how people relate to each other and figure out what to do about it all as we go along. My daughter still wears some odd outfits. We save the oddest ones (leg warmers, underwear, short apron, tube top… I have no idea, really) for home but if there are any kids at her school (and we’re all the way to 2nd grade) who avoid her because she’s likely to wear a pink striped hoody with last year’s Halloween print stretch pants, green socks and gold shoes, neither of us have noticed it. I do mention tips for more traditional forms of matching clothes and there are times I ask my daughter to follow them for one reason or another. I expect she’ll slowly become more “normal” as time goes on. But it’ll be on her own terms, not because I ever told her I was embarrassed by or worried about someone else’s reaction to her sense of style. I think it’s hilariously adorable :)

    Lisa October 13, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    DITTO!! As long as its weather-appropriate (and I make sure only seasonally appropriate items are out for them to pick from), my kids wear whatever they please. So not worth the battle.

    Catherine October 14, 2010 at 9:53 am

    @Lisa, we have trouble with the bridge seasons, like now, when there are still really warm days sometimes, but also cold. hence the Great Shorts Battle of the other day (the compromise for which was knee socks and a coat ;) )
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..On Freaks And Geeks And Princesses- And Why Lady Gaga Is More Like Jesus Than You Think =-.

    Danifred October 13, 2010 at 8:43 pm
    Chelsea October 13, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    I always dressed myself starting when I was 3 or 4…I refused to wear pants until I was at least 8 (only dresses). And even then, I only wore leggings, actually stirrup pants. Remember those. Leggings with stirrups on the bottom (I cringe at the thought…actually I saw some at Target awhile ago- please tell me they are not back in style!!).

    I think it is great to let kids pick out their own clothes. As long as they don’t smell and are dressed modest for their age (as you already said) who cares? The main thing is, is your child happy? Yours obviously is :) .

    Backpacking Dad October 13, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    The point of not having uniforms is to encourage self-expression and individuality, not to back-door dress-codes in line with whatever you can afford to buy at Gap Kids.

    In a world without dress-codes the tiara-wearing kid is queen.

    Catherine October 14, 2010 at 9:52 am

    @Backpacking Dad, and what of the tutu-wearing woman? OR MAN?
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..On Freaks And Geeks And Princesses- And Why Lady Gaga Is More Like Jesus Than You Think =-.

    blueskies29 October 13, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    Kudos. To you, for choosing your battles wisely, for allowing your daughter this freedom and for respecting not just her choices but celebrating in her joy of expressing “her own self”.

    Kudos to Emilia. For having the imagination, the confidence and the joy to put her own self out into the world every day. The Universe is richer for it.

    Lisa October 13, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Love the sentiment of this piece. Love hearing how your daughter thinks about her clothes.

    Could’ve done without the whole, “and this is what those mean girls said about me” part. It was two comments. So, yeah, there are people out there judging. We all know that. We don’t need to be riled up with the specifics of it. Look how many angry, cursing responses there are. On the one hand, it’s nice to know that the large majority is fighting mad over it and wants to rush in to your defense, but really, do we need more fighting in the world?

    Catherine October 14, 2010 at 9:51 am

    @Lisa, the comments were included for an important discursive reason, and not to call people out. Part of the point of my argument here is that not everybody accepts difference, not even seemingly insignificant difference, like small children dressing eccentrically. Those comments demonstrate the point, and make it more clearly than I could have in several paragraphs of description. People DO judge, and as one of those commenters implies, they actively or passively encourage their children to judge, and this, I think (as I said in the post) is one of the roots of bullying. Raising our children to embrace their own difference and accept others’ differences works, I hope against this.

    Anyway. That point couldn’t have been made as forcefully if I’d left the comments out. And? It wasn’t my intention to provoke it, but what’s wrong with getting angry at people who seek to shame others? At people who bully? To mangle the saying – all that is needed for evil to flourish in the world is for good men and women to stay silent.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..On Freaks And Geeks And Princesses- And Why Lady Gaga Is More Like Jesus Than You Think =-.

    Laura October 13, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    I LOVE this. My daughter just turned two and I encourage her to wear whatever she wants. And she has a very clear opinion of what is acceptable and what isn’t for her clothes. Sometimes she wears a tutu over an outfit.. today she wore one of her dad’s ties over her jacket to her doctor’s appointment.. it made everyone smile.

    Alexicographer October 13, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    I love Emilia’s choices.

    And here I thought that by allowing our children to make their own choices about things they can safely decide (such as what fashions to sport) we were providing them with opportunities to develop their brains and abilities. What a dummy I am, huh?

    Besides loving Emilia’s choices, I also love that my son’s daycare says that children need to arrive with clothing appropriate to the day’s weather. And that it is specified, “Not necessarily in it, just with it.”

    schmutzie October 14, 2010 at 12:42 am

    I still bear the scars from those times as a child when I was steered toward “normal” behaviour. I remember feeling shame about my natural inclinations, and it has taken decades to unlearn that.

    I seriously applaud your love of your children in all that they are.
    .-= schmutzie´s last blog ..Five of My Most Highly Embarrassing Accidents =-.

    Denise October 14, 2010 at 1:35 am

    Just want to say that Emelia is EXACTLY the kind of kid I encourage my girls to befriend.
    .-= Denise´s last blog ..joy and grace list =-.

    edenland October 14, 2010 at 8:02 am

    My mother was the biggest bully in my life. I would have …. could have, been such a free-spirited, amazing little girl. If I had been allowed.

    The freedom you allow Emilia – is breathtaking. It’s not about the clothes (althought they are ADORABLE ensembles) – it’s about self-expression, self-worth, and trust.

    Beautiful.
    .-= edenland´s last blog ..All Hail the Bin Juice =-.

    Barnmaven October 14, 2010 at 9:15 am

    I’m trying to remember whether it was an article I read or some show I caught on a weird TV channel a while back…they interviewed Lady Gaga and some of the other more ‘outre’ stars. Lady Gaga was basically saying that dressing the way she does is part of her way of validating people who don’t fit ‘normal’ standards of dress or appearance. She said that she felt she would be letting them down if she changed the way she dressed just to suit the people who thought she was too eccentric. I loved that. I don’t like everything she wears or think that it necessarily looks great — but ultimately it doesn’t MATTER what I think. It matters if she is happy with herself and comfortable in her own skin.

    I let my 8 year old daughter put pink streaks in her hair. They’ve started to fade out now, and now she wants purple. None of the other kids in her class have dyed their hair different colors but she wants to and so, because it is her hair, I will help her do it.

    In the book ‘How to be an Adult in Relationships’, David Richo says we need five basic things in our relationships and that getting these things growing up is important: Attention; Affection; Acceptance; Allowing; Appreciation

    When I think of my two kids the attention, affection and appreciation parts are easy – but what really I want to be conscious of are the “allowing” and the “acceptance” parts. If I allow them to be who they are, without layering my own neurosis and insecurities on them, if I accept who they are without requiring them to change in some way to have my approval, then hopefully they will grow up secure in their individuality. That’s a priceless GIFT. Its one I wish I’d had.

    I think you’re on the right track, Catherine. And I really like how you (lapsing into the vernacular) dont’ take no shit from nobody.
    .-= Barnmaven´s last blog ..A Tooths Tale- or Why I Cant Get to Work on Time Updated =-.

    sue October 14, 2010 at 9:36 am

    If other children are judging your daughter for what she is wearing, they probably wouldn’t be very good friends anyway. If parents are judging her -or more likely judging you, they clearly need more to think about.
    Rock on Emilia…

    Brooke October 14, 2010 at 9:48 am

    CONFORM! CONFORM! She MUST conform!

    Truth? I look back at the outfits that my *mother* picked out for me and am so embarrassed for my younger self. And she thought they were adorable. I’m sure most of these mothers will be chided by their children someday for letting them ‘conform’ to the fads that are happening nowadays…
    .-= Brooke´s last blog ..School days! =-.

    Karen October 14, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    @Brooke, exactly, she must conform so we can feel better about ourselves, our choices, our children. It’s making me uncomfortable how you dress, the way you walk, who you fall in love with….

    MusingsfromMe/Jill October 14, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Let your daughter wear what she likes. I have fought the good fight on having my girls wear dresses or my son wear a winter coat. I gave up. I let the kids freeze or not while waiting for the bus. If cold, the next day the kids will NOT wear shorts. Go with your instincts…your daughter sounds like a creative type who needs to control what she wears in order to feel good about herself. I have a tween who needs to wear stripey knee socks every day even with shorts.

    I would draw the line at sending a second set of clothes to school. I’m not sure the teachers would appreciate having kids change in to new clothes during the day. Also, you want a clear picture of what your daughter is wearing each day in case she is abducted — sorry I’m a pessimist and do keep track of what my kids wear each day. I have a high schooler who gets the bus in the dark…I am paranoid that she will be hit by a car while waiting for the bus. I stand at the front door watching her get on the bus. I have been known to text her to make sure she got on the bus safely.
    .-= MusingsfromMe/Jill´s last blog ..@YoursphereMom in the BlogHer House and a Giveaway! =-.

    Her Bad Mother October 14, 2010 at 10:03 am

    That’s an interesting point about not packing a second set of clothes. We only do it when her outfit is potentially uncomfortable (too costumey) or potentially weather-inappropriate (if she wears tights and shorts, we send pants), and we’ve already discussed doing this with her teachers, so we know that they’re okay with it. And we’re the ones who pack the extras, so we know what she COULD be wearing at any point in time. My only concern is that it gives her too much freedom to change her mind, and that she should perhaps learn to stick with her choices, but then, I’d rather slip a little there than have her unable to play on the playground because her skirt is too long and she couldn’t change ;)

    Jeannine October 14, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Emilia is an individual! A rock star! My hero for following her own style and not letting anyone dictate to her what she should wear. I have no control over what my 6 year old wears (w/exception of age inappropriate clothes) – nor do I want control over that sense of individuality she has. She has a strong sense of who she is and I don’t want to stifle that expressiveness.

    As Edenland says – the freedom you allow Emilia is breathtaking. xoxo

    red pen mama October 14, 2010 at 10:06 am

    “most of us are wondering how that child is going to turn out”?

    Um, no. no we’re not. I think a lot of us recognize our own daughters in Emilia, and our own attitudes about what our daughters choose to wear in Catherine. A combination of “not worth the fight” and celebration in our children’s creativity.

    Anyhoo, to Emilia’s detractors: Didn’t your mom teach you if your didn’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all? Jeez.

    Reading the rest of the comments now.
    .-= red pen mama´s last blog ..You Really Want to Know =-.

    Babybloomr October 14, 2010 at 10:20 am

    It truly boggles my not-easily-boggled mind that any grown woman would “judge” someone based on the sartorial display of A CHILD! (Or another adult too, but that’s a different post.) Puh. Leez.

    Having said that, I will admit to a brief inner (OK, and outer, too) spazz when my 17 yr old daughter dyed her tawny brown headful of gorgeousness to dipped-her-head-in-a-Sharpie black. I went all disapproving parent on her, until I saw that hopeful light in her eyes falter and turn as black as her hair. Because what she wanted and needed to hear from the main female role model in her life (though she’d die before admitting that) was a confirmation that her idea of what made her look and feel exotic and beautiful was accepted, not judged.

    Hair grows out. Girls grow up and go to college (way sooner than you think *sigh*). What do you want your child to remember about you?

    (I apologized. She gracously accepted. It’s 5 months later now, and she’s starting to ever-so-casually ask me questions about ‘how hard would it be to go back to her natural color’…)
    .-= Babybloomr´s last blog ..It’s Toutin’ Time in heaven! =-.

    Tricia October 14, 2010 at 11:24 am

    @Babybloomr,

    Just a great comment – and something every parent should ask themselves every day – What do I want my child to remember about me?

    iamsamisam October 14, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Once again there isn’t anything that you’ve written that I don’t think should resonate with every parent who wants their child to be able to think for themselves and be the best that they can be by having had the opportunity to explore what feels right and good for them. It’s CLOTHES for goodness sake. It’s an easy way for you to help her build a strong self-esteem and make decisions for herself.

    Hats off to you! (Or keep it on . . . if it’s a “hat” day today!!)

    Sarah October 14, 2010 at 10:31 am

    My mother fostered my eccentricity at a young age and I couldn’t be more grateful. Any bullshit I had to put up with made me stronger, and I never had to question whether I was being true to myself. Anyone who encourages you to harbor in your daughter a desire to conform and a fear of being different has clearly suppressed any creative or fanciful desires fr a young age.
    While your daughter may need to learn to let close-minded criticism roll off her back, that is a skill that will serve her all her life. And the relationships she forms will be based on her true self, not some projection she was forced to create.

    The way we dress is far from the most important thing about any given day, but my professional and personal life has been immeasurably enhanced by my parents encouraging me to wear whatever I want and be whoever I want.

    Tiffany @ MomNom October 14, 2010 at 10:39 am

    When I see those pictures, I just thank God that she was given a mommy that is so open and loving that she lets that little free spirit carve her own way. It’s clothing people! For crying out loud! You are fostering her imagination, creativity, spirit and tolerance…

    And, any adult that whispers about a child’s clothing selection should be banned from society. In general. As a whole.
    .-= Tiffany @ MomNom´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday Sunflower Festival Edition =-.

    corasmom October 14, 2010 at 10:46 am

    I love the photos, and my own daughter shares Emilia’s style criteria, and I share your philosophy about her clothing and eccentricity in general. But I think what I love most is your lovely response to the comments that praised conformity and the singling out of “freaks”. As you so often do, you neatly and gracefully and unequivocally pointed out what was so wrong with that attitude. Thank you.
    .-= corasmom´s last blog ..Unplugged =-.

    Kim Z October 14, 2010 at 11:18 am

    I think Emila’s style is wonderful, and there is no reason to intervene (except for the weather and age-appropriate caveats you mentioned). Now, if she is still wearing the skateboarding princess outfit at 22 when she has a serious job interview, you may want to talk to her then although perhaps she’ll find a job where that is just fine.
    .-= Kim Z´s last blog ..observacious- @grimkat Lovely post for the3six5 Im very sorry for the loss of your friend =-.

    Gisela October 14, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Hmm, I always thought people who judged children based on what they wear only existed in my own overprotective mind. We are who we are and I think there is much more gained in fully accepting our own uniqueness and taking pride in who we are, then trying to conform just to fit in. While you may succeed fitting in, you might always wonder if people actually like you for who you are or if they just like the picture you paint for them. I want my children to feel comfortable with who they are and good about expressing it. If they can have that confidence, I am sure they will find plenty people who will appreciate them for what they are and enjoy their colorful choices of dressing.

    Brittany at Mommy Words October 14, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Yay Catherine! Kids should all be their true selves and proud of it. She rocks her style with confideince and joy and that is what is important. She looks perfectly fine and yes, weather appropriate. We don;t want ‘em to freeze. I have heard that with lots of kids (boys) you just give up and let ‘em wear shorts in the winter though….but I’m in NC not Canada!

    Let’s go for more parents focusing on positivity and joy in their children and not placing ideas about what is “not normal” into our small children’s heads.

    Great Post!
    .-= Brittany at Mommy Words´s last blog ..Dreams of Magic- Sex and Laundry =-.

    Michelle October 14, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    I think your critic was the same big banged, small minded, trendy label whore that made my life hell in school. I see she still has not gotten a life.

    Alison October 14, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    I applaud your choice to allow your daughter to choose her own clothes. Too often parents are afraid their kid looks weird or could end up being made fun of. That will happen at some point in everyone’s life. I say enjoy your weirdness and be happy.

    Cindy October 14, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    We also let our daughter wear what she wants with pretty much the same rules as you have – with the addition if it causes a disruption at school, she must change (e.g., all the kids pay attention to her tutu rather than the teacher). I think it is great that our daughters feel comfortable and confident in who they are and are willing to express it. So far, she is one of the most sought after kids in kinder prep, makes friends easily, and is learning that being different is OK. When kids are mean, we will help her through that. But I sure do hope that parents are teaching their children that what is on the inside of someone matters, not what clothes they wear – or color they are, or if they are gay or straight, or have money, or anything else.

    Laura October 14, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    To me, the other important thing E learns from this is that no one’s opinion of “her own self’ matters more than hers.

    I have to wonder if the sons and daughters of your trolls are going to feel nearly as secure or confident ad adults because they’re clearly being taught that what matters is how they’re perceived by others.

    The world already has enough crushed flowers and sycophants. Viva les stripey tights!

    caramama October 14, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    You inspired me to exorcise one of my own demons. I wasn’t sure I’d ever write about how I was teased about my clothes, but I just did. And it’s helped give me additional perspective on my own kids.

    You keep encouraging her to be true to her own self. It pays off in the end, even if she does get teased!
    .-= caramama´s last blog ..Individuality and Clothes =-.

    Gen October 14, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Hmmm. I think she’s got mad style. I don’t get the haters. But, I also let my son wear a spiderman t-shirt with a necktie the other day, so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s likely.
    .-= Gen´s last blog ..Death by Cuteness =-.

    Delphine October 14, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Inspiring, as always.
    I am very conservative in my dressing and I tend to choose conservative clothes for my daughters aged 4 and 6 but I admire Emilia’s and your frredom and creativity !
    .-= Delphine´s last blog ..Tea time =-.

    Laura October 14, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    My mom was supportive of me, but the kids at school weren’t. I often wonder if I’d have a little more self assuredness if I hadn’t been relentlessly made fun of at school (for nine straight years). Bravo to both you and Emilia!!

    Janette October 14, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    I believe children should be able to express themselves that they want to since it provides freedom to the child to express themselves in a way that they are comfortable. In the end the child can be happy knowing they took a part in dressing themselves but do make sure the child is weather appropriate

    JM October 14, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    What idiots to leave comments like that !!! Your daughter is confident, creative and totally cool.. what more could you want? A perfectly-coordinated zombie doll, which is what they seem to suggest she dress like ?!?!

    Love her outfits, and even more.. the ‘why’ of them! Wish you’d start a weekly series on pre-schooler fashion or something.. :)

    Amanda October 14, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    My 3-year-old daughter got a bag of hand-me-down clothes recently, and I had to go to the store so I could find matching shirts/pants to coordinate with them.

    She loves to dress up when she’s at home (usually she’s naked with her fairy skirt or her “I Love to Clean” apron). Then, when we go out, I change her into something I’ve picked out.

    Ugh, and I’ve always believed that I’m a mom who encourages creativity.

    Thank you, thank you, for allowing me to see that there’s nothing wrong with my daughter wearing a fairy skirt or cleaning apron in public (as long as she’s not naked underneath, of course). Tomorrow morning, and hopefully for the rest of her life, I will let her pick out her own clothes. And I will encourage her to be the free spirit that she is.

    Maybe that will help me unleash *my* free spirit as well.

    Carol October 14, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    I think you are doing it just right! My Mo is like your little one, she has known since early on what she likes and what she doesn’t. Snow boots with your shorts? Absolutely! You should have seen her dressed for her sweethearts dance, I have a picture I’d love to show you. I told her she looked like my little emo raggedy ann doll. She was beautiful and completely Mo. I think she is turning out just fine. She doesn’t torture animals, is kind to old people and never ever robs a convenience store. What more can a mother ask for? Let her be little, and let her be totally and completely Emilia. Life will try to shove her in a box soon enough, give her the courage to follow her heart.
    .-= Carol´s last blog ..I think it may be time for an intervention =-.

    Renee October 14, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    I’m stuck at the title… It’s so amazing I can’t get past it
    .-= Renee´s last blog ..Shaken Up =-.

    Jo-Anne Wallace October 14, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Catherine: I smiled through your entire post. You have a wonderful way of describing things and I can picture perfectly, the look of content on Emelia’s face when she falls asleep at night after choosing her very best outfit. My daughter does the same. There is something inherently joyous and innocent in that process. Thanks for sharing this.

    Cait October 14, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Totally unrelated. I think I’ve commented on ANYTHING on the internet maybe once and I just got all fired up and signed up for jez (which I read everyday) to defend your honor but lo, you ARE josephine. I feel much better. phew. Plagiarists ruin it for everyone.

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