AS GREAT BRITAIN MOURNS THE PASSING OF A QUEEN
Trying on outfits helps us know who we are—and who we are not. My mother bought me this satin, sequined crown and cape at a church bazaar in my hometown of Northfield, Minnesota. The hand-sewn costume was lovely and fit my five-year-old frame, but not my personality. As my father took my photo, I sat up straight, as regally as I could. But our Brittany Spaniel, Princess, had had puppies and I was more interested in playing with a wiggly pup than posing.
A couple years later, my mom signed me up for ballet class at Northfield Arts Guild. After three lessons, I convinced her to let me stay home and watch “The Lone Ranger” on TV instead. Rather than twirling on my toes, I wanted to ride Silver, the horse I saw on television.
Some of my friends dressed up their dolls and I joined them for the fun of their company, but preferred playing frisbee tag in our cul-de-sac or exploring the college arboretum with my friend, Amy. Rather than aspiring to a throne, I liked sitting in trees. Perhaps that’s the influence of my Celtic roots.
Thanks to a glass slipper, Cinderella attained royal status by catching the eye of a prince. The size and appearance of her hair, figure, and even her feet were the means of her success. What message does that send? Writer Sarah Showfety calls “beauty-based praise-baiting” a toxic message for girls, as if their looks are the basis of their self-worth. I’d rather melt down that glass shoe and make of it a new lens to see more facets of ourselves.
I was never glamorous princess material. Though my nickname was Barbie, I lacked the fashion sense of the Mattel doll (and never owned one as a child). Rather than a tiara or tutu, I preferred a T-shirt and jeans. Yet we all have moments of glory when we deserve a sparkly crown in our lives. I think, in such moments, I’ll hold mine inside and let it shine from there.