Sunday, April 14, 2013

I Said "Yes" to the Dress

It all started with a diaper.   

I had developed some idiosyncratic brand loyalty to Pampers.  This is not a plug—they just seemed to accommodate Sophia’s unique baby body shape.  They rarely leaked.  They felt relatively soft.  So I bought them.

I didn’t like the fact that they sported images of the Disney princess trio.  But she was an infant, right?  She wasn’t unconsciously developing her own brand loyalty. 


As soon as she could speak, she demanded to know who they were:  “Name!” she ordered, in the way that she did when we passed anyone on the street. 

Telling her was my first mistake.

And though, I worked hard to insulate her from other, more direct forms of marketing, she developed an acute, super-sensitive form of radar for all things Disney.  Along with Starbucks, she recognized the logo long before she could read: 

“Look, mom, it’s Disney!”  And it didn’t matter what it was.  Plastic teapots, coloring books, clip on earrings.  She pined for it all.

Especially the dresses. 

We tried to buy generic gowns, without the coveted Disney logo sewn in at the back.  My mother gave her a whole treasure chest full of them for her third birthday.  Sophie lifted each one out informing us, “Pink is for Aurora, yellow is for Belle, blue is for Cinderella.”  Disney had effectively color-coded the princesses so the very hue would conjure an association.  No label necessary. 

She wore the pink one until it literally fell off her body in tatters—more fit for scouring the hearth than attending the ball. 

Two-years later, her Disney devotion unflagging, she was ready for a replacement.  Our neighbor, a fellow princess aficionado, conducted all of her daily activities dressed as Belle.  Sophia eyed her frock admiringly. “I love your dress,” she’d say, looking like it took every ounce of her will power not to rip it off her friend’s body. 

Sophie felt a particular kinship with Belle, the beautiful bookish nerd of Provence.  But mostly, she wanted her clothes.  And so, for Hanukkah, I bought her a daffodil of a dress, with layers of tulle and shiny fabric that reached down to the floor.

Sophie wears this dress every day.  When she comes home from school, she quickly sheds her more mundane sequined frocks, for this yellow confection, now ripped under the left armpit and trimmed with dirt. 

I find it particularly exasperating that I often cannot read to her until she puts it on.

“Wait!  Mom!  I have to get my dress first.”

“Come on, Sophia.  I’m reading this one book, and then we’ve got to get ready to go to gymnastics.”

“But, mom, that book is about a princess, and if you read it to me without my dress, I’ll be jealous.”

On the weekends, she wants to wear it everywhere.  To parties, museums, the gym.  Wrestling or dangling from monkey bars, she’s always ready for a last-minute invite to the ball. 

When Sophie is a teenager, an adult, a mother herself, this is how I will remember her:  as an insistent, resistant, persistent princess, giving me a lawyerly argument about why it is perfectly fine for her to [fill-in-the-blank] in a gown. 

I have given up.  It is one of those battles that falls into the category of not worth fighting.

Other mothers reassure me, this is short-lived.  It will end.   She won’t always insist on wearing royal robes.  One day she will wake up and it will suddenly seem babyish.  She’ll move onto leather pants, tube tops and pink hair.  Enjoy it while it lasts. 

But as Sophie’s friends, one-by-one, leave their dresses in a crumbled heap in their closets, Sophie remains ensconced in hers.  And sometimes, I wonder. 

Fact:  Disney World bans adults from wearing princess dresses in their parks.  Apparently they are afraid that children will have difficulty discerning between adult fetishists and the “real” Disney princesses.  Will my daughter be the adult who gets stopped at the entrance?  “Sorry Ma’am, but if you want in, you’re going to have to lose the dress”?  Or will she pass up a college education and head for Orlando to smile beatifically at three-year-olds as they kneel before her and kiss her ring?

I know one thing.  I must not stand in the way between Sophia and Walt.  Trying to separate them will only drive them together.  

Which is why, 
against all better judgment and that which I hold sacred, 
I have just booked a trip to Disney.  

1 comment:

Doug Bratton said...

Sophia will love it, I hope you opted for non-summer months for your sake. :) Enjoy the trip!