My daughter texted me from her homecoming shopping expedition at the mall:
“It’s hard not to buy all the Star Wars stuff,” she wrote.
“I bet,” I replied. “How about a Leia dress?” I asked, with a wink.
“Right, mom.” I could hear her sigh.
Later that day, I spotted the R2D2 dress hanging on her door. “No way!” I said.
“Really!” she said, her face beaming. “Why should I spend all that money on a dress I’ll wear once to a dance at school?” She followed her Jedi heart on that one. But her decision at the mall would prove to create a disturbance in The Force of homecoming.
Around here, the high school homecoming dress code calls for a suit for boys and a cocktail-style dress for girls. My daughter’s dress is more casual. It’s not a “sexy R2D2” costume; it’s a cute, cotton, above-the-knee sleeveless number with the droid’s design.
The biggest push-back against her decision has come not from me, her father, nor her boyfriend (a fellow Star Wars fanatic), but from the girls.
Not long after her purchase, the evening’s plans started to shift. The circle going to the dance expanded. The wider it became, the less she and her date wanted to go. Then the real reason for the changes came out – the girls didn’t like her dress, and were edging her out of the group. The boys liked the idea, and maybe that’s what bugged the girls. Will their dates wish they were in an R2D2 dress, too? Or will her novelty dress draw focus from their own versions of one-of-a-kind?
My daughter has taken a few direct and secondhand hits from the girls for this fashion choice. Her intuition tells her to resist the pressure. The money needed for a typical homecoming dress would take her weeks to earn at her part-time job. She’d rather save for Star Wars VII, for that trip to Italy with her Latin class next summer, and for other purchases that reflect her ever-deepening sense of self.
These kids live in a confusing time. Social media and creative expression encourage individuality — “be yourself,” they say, to succeed. Yet, dress codes and standardized tests tell them there’s an elusive “model teen” out there whom they need to emulate. They work so hard to fit in, but if they express themselves too much, they’re shamed and gossiped out of the group. Word got back to my daughter that she was “ruining homecoming” for at least one person. Really? Does she have that much power (dare I say, Force?) to ruin anyone’s night by her sartorial choice?
No matter. Everyone will get the evening they wanted. Neither my daughter nor her boyfriend were much into homecoming, anyway. They’ll take some photos, have dinner out with a different set of friends, skip the dance at the gym, and head to his house for a party. I’m sure light sabers will factor into the festivities.
Tomorrow we shop for silver flats. Even R2D2 must accessorize.
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