| Windows |

The Purim Costume

I want to tell her: Take this off. It’s terrible

MY daughter’s Purim costume is hideous.

She chose it herself, each store-bought component: lurid pink princess gown, tacky and too childish, even for a seven-year-old; matching tiara with a pink blob of plastic for a gemstone; awful princess-jewelry set, complete with huge purple rosette clip-on earrings.

She admires herself in the bathroom mirror, while I stand beside her, poker-faced, silently cringing.

She has friends in her new school, sweet kids who like her, but maybe they’ll tell her it’s babyish? And there’s a nasty, jealous bully in the class who makes fun of everything. I’m scared for my daughter. This costume is risky.

Social acceptance. That’s what I want for my daughter.

I know there are mothers who would never allow their daughters to choose what they want to wear, never, certainly not on Purim. And there are mothers who would allow some choice but then see this one and say, “Let’s find something else.”

Maybe they believe mothers should steer their kids. They’re probably right. A mother should teach her daughter about life, after all.

But then their daughters aren’t my daughter: creative, bright, willful, precocious, opinionated.

I look at my daughter’s shy smile as she turns to look at the purple clip-ons, as we discuss what we could do with her hair. She’s so pleased with this getup.


She looks like a bully’s prime target.

I want to tell her: Take this off. It’s terrible. Never mind that I pointed out a brocade Victorian princess dress and an expensive lace-and-velvet gown when we went shopping, and she wasn’t interested in either of them.

My thoughts, my fears, are there, waiting to be spoken: We’ll find a nicer costume, more sophisticated, something so cool that everyone will just love it. Or at least leave you alone.

But I look at my daughter’s glowing face, and I know with certainty what the wrong words will teach her.

I know that if I take this from her, I will teach her to reject what she loves for the sake of pleasing others, that she should fear them, fear their disapproval, that she should silence her voice, make choices with others’ voices playing on a loop in her mind.

The costume isn’t cute, but I resolve right then that my daughter will wear it.

Maybe the bully won’t like it, but then when she comes home and tells me, I’ll be able to ask her, “What’s more important? Whether Someone Else likes it, or whether you like it?”

And I’ll teach my child that her tastes and aesthetic and feelings and opinions and perspectives and values and convictions have nothing to do with pleasing the big scary monster of irrelevant others.

My daughter will wear the costume. We’ll walk the streets on Purim next to darling, unique, designer costumes, and my daughter will know the freedom of making her own seven-year-old choices, will know that her mother knows when to slacken the leash to give her that freedom. She’ll know that we don’t make choices in a desperate, relentless bid for social validation.

It’s the least I can do.

A mother should teach her daughter about life, after all.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 886)

Oops! We could not locate your form.