Kate went to the prom Saturday night.
Normally, Kate is not very concerned about making fashion statements with her wardrobe. She has two basic looks: jeans, t-shirt, tennis shoes; riding breeches, t-shirt, boots, helmet. That’s it. Well, there’s also the variation of basic look number two, only used for horse shows.
So when she started talking about going to the prom, my first thought was, “What on earth will she want to wear?” If you have a teenage daughter, then you get catalogs every spring displaying the latest trends in prom dresses. In my day, the dresses in these catalogs were called “pageant gowns” and you wore them when you competed in beauty pageants. They were expensive, excessively expensive. My prom dresses also had to serve as recital dresses for the spring piano recital season, so they were all very modest. I actually made my senior prom dress.
Kate took one look at the prom dress catalog and had a cow. I remember her making reference to “skank-wear” or something to that effect. There MIGHT have been two dresses that she would consider wearing. Most of the selection was low-cut, backless, front-less, mini length, or various combinations of those “features.”
About a month before the prom, before we had a dress, she came bopping in after school and she had an idea for her dress. She really likes the anime show “Black Butler”, and is attendng an Animazement convention Memorial Day weekend. She wanted a costume for the event, so Santa found a company that makes costumes and ordered her one for Christmas. She had been browsing their website recently and found a dress. “Mom, I love this dress. Do you think it would be OK for prom?”
Well, there’s the dress up there in her picture. If you think you recognize it, you’re probably right. It’s a period costume dress, circa 1912, copied from the dress Rose wore when she threatened to jump off the Titanic and Jack Dawson talked her out of it. There was no way anyone else was showing up at the prom wearing the same dress, because it was custom made to fit Kate.
And it was inexpensive.
Last week we watched Titanic together. She’d never seen the movie. By the time it was over she was crying just like the rest of us who, no matter hard we tried, could not keep the tears inside, even though we all knew that Rose and Jack were fictional characters.
Kate has very short hair and we were racking our brains trying to figure out what to do with it. Last Thursday Kate comes bopping in (again) and says, “Mom, do you think we could maybe make my hair look curly. In the movie, Rose had curly hair.” Hmmmm, where did I put the velcro rollers I used to have? Oh, yeah….Goodwill. So we find more rollers at Walmart, “where all your dreams come true”, Kate says, sarcastically. We rolled her hair, played with cosmetics, and when we were finished we found this underneath the quiet, plain persona she hides behind:
She had a wonderful time at the prom. News reports from her friends indicate that her shell cracked a little more, and the girl behind the mask she’s worn for the past 11 years (since she started school) came out to play.
This morning, as she gets herself ready for school, I notice a subtle touch of makeup. When I ask her about it, she smiles just like the one in that picture up there, and says not a word.
We wear masks. We hide behind our different personas because we’re afraid to reveal who we really are, in fear that, if anyone ever knew who we really are, we would be left deserted, alone. I know that feeling.
Remember Big Sister, the girl who left because Kate FINALLY stood up to her overbearing ways? Well, she managed to stick another needle into her Kate voodoo doll this weekend. Suffice it to say that comments were made to deliberately hurt Kate. A few weeks ago she would have been hurt by the snide, sideways insult from her used-to-be-more-like-a-sister-than-a-best-friend. Today she’s hurt again, but she’s also angry and determined to get past the havoc BS has wreaked over the years.
I have some lessons to learn from my daughter, about beauty…and about taking off the mask…and most importantly, about moving past the pain.