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Millennial Life: Shine Bright on All the Picture Days

Cassie McClure on

The email said that the kids were allowed to wear whatever they liked. Since they go to a school with uniforms, this was a relief, particularly for my daughter, who is quite the fashionista. A friend recently told me she admired my daughter's dedication to headbands. Does my daughter have one for every holiday? Nearly.

There are various sizes of ears for Easter. Reindeer antlers and candy canes for Christmas. For Valentine's Day, she upped the ante with a battery and an on/off switch that worked multicolored lights in the hearts on springs. But the day-to-day consists of her favorites, either sparkling cat ears of various colors or fuzzy pom-poms.

On picture day, she made sure the right shirt was clean and picked out just the right headband. There were unicorns on her shirt; there were unicorns on her leggings. She tied the room together with a tie-dye skirt to make my hippie heart proud.

But she came home subdued. My son reported that he was the first to get his picture taken so that he could spend most of the time at the playground, his favorite part of school so far. I asked my daughter about picture day, the first in almost two years.

"It was fine," she said. "Fine," I thought. Oh, no. "Fine" traditionally translates to "no good" for most womanhood; however, I wasn't 100% sure it was the same for girlhood. It's been a minute since I've been there.

Turns out, all the other little girls were in their Sunday best, beautifully curated, ready to be tucked into an envelope and sent to all the fridges of the extended family.

I let out an "ohhh" because I flashed back to being in elementary school and remembering the immaculately dressed little girls around me. One of my most awkward elementary school photos had me wearing a denim country-style shirt from JCPenney, which matched one of my mom's shirts. (I'll give her a pass because it was the early '90s.) The picture also showed me with my hair akimbo, a reddish face and crooked glasses. My mom sighed when she opened the package and saw them.

"It was recess before we took the photos," I explained. But recess wasn't the only answer in the following years when I waded farther and farther away from feminine standards. The next year, I had garish wooden beads, a tie-dye shirt and an uneven part in my frizzy hair. In high school, it was variations of shirts with dragons on fire and increasingly shorter hair.

 

I've been wondering how I can be more of an example of femininity for my daughter, especially since I sometimes feel a little like I'm playing dress-up when I get ready. When my daughter was younger, she would stand silently behind me when I would spend the under five minutes it takes me to throw on makeup haphazardly. Thanks kid, no pressure.

But when I let out the "oh," my husband jumped in. He told her that her bravery at showing others at school who she was through the colors that made her happy was one of the most beautiful things about her.

The pictures came in the mail today and my husband was right. There was my son, dimples unlocked in a mischievous grin with all the Minecraft characters on his self-picked shirt as the supporting cast.

And there she was, my daughter. Her soul shining through with the fuzzy pom-poms matching the striping on her shirt and her hair just so, with some frizz as a halo around her.

For me, "whatever they liked" from the email translated to my instincts as allowing my kids to be who they are. For my daughter, her first instinct was to be who she is. I'm not sure I could ask for more or even show her more than what she's finding herself, but I am honored to be able to give her a place to do that.

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Cassie McClure is a writer, millennial, and unapologetic fan of the Oxford comma. She can be contacted at cassie@mcclurepublications.com. To find out more about Cassie McClure and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Copyright 2022 Creators Syndicate Inc.
 

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