A Dress and a Tween Girl’s Delight

I Feel Pretty -Girl in Dress © Tara Cousineau
I Feel Pretty

She didn’t have to say it exactly. She exuded it. She danced it. She jumped on the sofa. She twirled.

A new dress on a (very) skinny tween.

“Look, it fits perfectly!”

I watched Josie with pure joy – and a silent gratitude to the Universe. Thank you.

You never know with an item ordered online what will burst out of the package. It could result in tears just as easily as triumph.You never know when your child, acutely aware of her “smallness” relative to her friends, will feel mighty in her own power or crushed at the snide comment of another 7th grader.

As a mom, I find myself often holding my breath because the tiniest shifts in the fragile social world of middle schoolers can mold a girl’s sense of wellbeing for life. Is it not true, kindred moms, that some of our most defining moments happened when we were but 11 or 12? Or maybe 14 or 15?

And maybe that was the essence of my sigh of relief. Old stories need not reappear in our children’s lives. Just maybe Josie can come out of it unscathed. When those old haunts do reappear,  however, we can hold them with such love and compassion for our younger selves that we heal. And this may not happen until we watch our girls grow up as I am experiencing right now. Self-compassion. It’s from this place we can do the best for our girls – so that any slight on her personhood can be cushioned with our deep understanding.

That may be easier said than done, of course. And our modern world offers new means to amplify any kind of emotion, positive or negative. In the world of tweens. It’s called Instagram.

She accumulated 81 likes on her Instagram in about 24 hours. But even before her posting of  “the dress” for her all-girl gymnastics banquet more than two months away, I know that the heartfelt joy came from her own soul.  It wasn’t the ‘likes’ from her friends or some notion of retail therapy we moms like to do every so often for ourselves. (Do we ever dance and twirl in the dressing rooms of the dress shops? Hell, we should! )

For a girl who either flits about in oversized sweat pants or a skin tight leotard, who has ankles wrapped in tape, or time and again tearfully misses a social gathering because of a commitment to her sport, a dress that fits is a dress that fits.

And as a recovering self-conscious boney gal myself, it’s was befitting to witness.

In wearing her new dress Josie claims her radiance.

Look at me! I am free and alive and beautiful.

Let it be so.

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