Do you remember the first time you looked at someone else and thought:
I wish I was wearing that...?
I do. It was on the bus ride home from school and Jenny Moore (I think that was her name) was, of course, the center of attention and everyone wanted be in her good graces. Keep in mind, this was third grade. I was fascinated by this Jenny. What made everyone love her so much? She really wasn't very pretty, to be perfectly honest. She was very ordinary, actually. Thin brown hair that was a little scraggly, but who's counting? Dark skin, dark eyes, crooked teeth, and yet somehow she was Queen. All the boys threw things at her and punched her and kicked her and I was jealous. She was always beaming, and who wouldn't be with that kind of attention?
So I thought long and hard about the whole thing for at least five minutes. And that's when it hit me: Jenny Miller is cool because of her clothes. As I arrived at this conclusion I immediately started making mental notes of all that she was wearing. A baseball hat (or was it a visor? We'll give her the benefit of the doubt and say baseball hat), a long t-shirt dress with a giraffe on it (giraffes were so hot back then) light blue lace leggings (or were those holes?) socks that didn't go together, and big old clunky tennis shoes. Everything had stains on it and nothing matched. She was a goddess.
So I did what any hot-blooded third grade girl would do- I went home and tried to replicate her outfit exactly. It was difficult because I didn't have any of those items. So I just wore a regular length tshirt, with regualr tights (not to be confused with leggings) and mix matched socks, and a hat and I'm pretty sure I teased my hair a little. I looked in the mirror and stood in awe of my creation. Surely, the boys will punch me now.
Then suddenly, the door to my bedroom came swinging open and in walked my mother with a basket full of laundry. "You look ridiculous!" she said, encouragingly.
Standing there for a moment, I began to feel foolish. What am I wearing? I thought, and, Why don't I have pants on? So I mustered up the best defense of my actions that I could think of:
"Jenny Mackey wears this and she is popular!" I blurted out, with my hands on my hips.
My mother looked amused. She set her laundry basket down on my bed and then walked over to me.
"Mandi," she said gently, turning me to look at myself. "You are beautiful and dressing like Jenny Malone is not going to make you any prettier than you already are."
I stood there and watched as the mystical cloud covering my reflection went away and instead of seeing Jenny Maddox I saw myself. And, as it turned out, I liked how I looked a-whole-lot better when I was wearing pants.