On Saying “Yes” to the Dress

Image - evening wear

So, the one our daughter liked had a shorter layer of ruffles, was blue, no lace, but similar neckline … these details all become vitally important … How would you read it?

Now that Christmas is over and we are back in town from visiting relatives and shopping with Christmas money, it turns out it is time to shop for prom. This is because waiting till the second or third week of January for an occasion that occurs in the spring guarantees that the early birds have gotten lots of the worms. So to speak. And some of those worms might be the exact tasty one our daughter would have wanted if she’d had a chance to notice it. Not that she didn’t have a perfectly satisfactory (we, her parents, thought “fabulous”) prom dress last year. But maybe she would have found something even better if we had heeded the good counsel of her more prom-savvy friends.

We don’t know anything about anything, we admit willingly (ok, maybe a little proudly), because we never went to prom, or even thought about it. In our high school days, it meant something that it doesn’t seem to mean in 2017, and whatever it meant [like that you were a “girl,” you had a boyfriend, you cared about all that in the normal way everyone assumed you did, it didn’t seem to you like a giant celebration of patriarchy … all that. Or did I miss something?] definitely did not apply to us. So we were unprepared last year to negotiate the whole spring fertility ritual of our small rural high school, and are only a little less prepared this year. Yesterday, when we started getting photos via cell phone [“I like this one.” “This is a nice dress.”] we looked at each other and said “Did you know they were shopping for prom?” and realized we had missed that important announcement.

The one she really liked I said looked … adult. I almost said precisely what I thought, but I thought she might take it the wrong way.

She is an adult, of course, technically. She voted in the last election.

These clothes are texts, though. People read them. We, her parents, seem to be hoping to see one that says “our sweet, beautiful daughter [in her invisible but clearly legible protective bubble, that we imagine to be inviolable despite our knowledge of the world we live in].” That doesn’t seem to be quite the message our daughter is going for.

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About HAT

Heather Thiessen (HAT) is a happily married 60-ish, Bible-reading, Presbyterian Church Sunday School teaching and choir singing, small fuel efficient car driving, still pretty much 2nd wave feminist and generally out lesbian Hoosier mom. (There are no monochrome states.) From time to time she teaches religious studies to students at a small liberal arts college in Louisville, Kentucky.
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