I have a huge weak spot for what I can only think to call “fairy princess” dresses. You know what I mean? The really girly, frilly, lacy, fancy kind of dresses that have all those neat little touches and details that reach into your heart and say, “you have to have me!” “I’m special and amazing and if you wear me, you will be special and amazing too!” When I was very small, I can remember clearly standing in the Sears store in Springfield, MO, where I grew up, staring at the racks of beautiful fairy princess dresses, drooling over them, knowing I would NEVER get to even try one on in the store, much less take one home with me. My parents never bought me things like that. But my heart so longed for one! Just one!!! And I remember thinking to myself before sadly walking away, “by the time I’m old enough to buy myself a dress like this, they won’t even make them any more; it will be too late for me.”
I wanted to be special. I wanted to be beautiful. I wanted to be “oh-ed and ah-ed” over. And to me, a fairy princess dress stood for being special and cherished. If you had a fairy princess dress, you were WANTED. You RATED. And I knew I didn’t rate, so I realized I would never have such an extraordinary dress.
To be fair, I was born a clothes horse. As a baby, I actually and truly grabbed new outfits my grandmother made for me in my teeny hand and crawled around the house with them because I loved them so much. When I was in 6th grade, I saved enough allowance to buy myself a pair of coveted go-go boots and I slept with them every night. I can still recall the smell of the hot pink foam lining! Now, I have a closet full of clothes, all purchased when on sale or “pre-owned” from eBay, and I admittedly have way more clothes than I need or will ever be able to wear out. I still love the sweet details and frills and extra touches and they still reach out and grab me by my heart. Yes, I loved clothes as a baby, as a young child standing in Sears, as a teenager and I love them to this day. How I dress reflects how I feel and it masks the lack of value I believe I have.
You see, clothes have a deeper meaning for me. I don’t know why; I only know that they do and always have. They mean you’re distinctive, that you have worth and significance, that you are special and pretty and…NORMAL. They let you fit in. They let you be somebody when you’re really nobody. They give you a presence. They make you unique. They make you look like a real person.
I didn’t really want to be a fairy princess. I just wanted to be loved. And I wasn’t. Never have been and still am not. I just wanted to matter. And I didn’t. Never have. To me as a child, being a fairy princess meant you were so wonderful and desirable, entire kingdoms would fall at your feet and swoon, so great would be their love for you. I wanted someone to cherish me like that. No one did then and no one does today. So clothes still help me to feel normal enough and worthy enough of breathing air to face the day. Clothes are my substitute for being loved.
No fairytale ending to this story. No one is living happily ever after. But I do have a fairy princess dress or two. And they at least let me pretend like I’m somebody special.