dress-up · physical appearance · raising strong girls · self-esteem · slice of life

My 5 year-old was makeupless for her dance recital. #sol16

Isabelle’s first dance recital took place last night. If you’ve talked to me lately (or read this blog post I wrote in March), then you know I haven’t been that excited about the recital. Some of my lack of enthusiasm had to do with the emphasis on performance rather than acquisition of discernable ballet and tap skills. Some of my lack of enthusiasm surrounded the fact that the rehearsal and recital went beyond Isabelle’s bedtime. And some of my lack of enthusiasm revolved around the idea of five-year-olds being requested to wear makeup.
So, about the makeup. If you read my March post, you might remember makeup was encouraged, but not required for preschool dancers. Seeing as it was optional, I opted not to put any on Isabelle. I figured I’d cave and allow her to wear lipstick if she really wanted to wear makeup because her peers were. In reality, I felt strongly that she didn’t wear it since she’s only five. (Believe me, I have nothing against makeup. I’m rarely out without it. I just don’t think it is for little girls.)
Isabelle either didn’t care or didn’t notice she was the only kid in her dance class without makeup. None of the other moms questioned me about it. (Note: We changed to a different class in early April.) And you know what? When asked, my husband said Isabelle’s lack of makeup didn’t make a lick of difference to him sitting in the audience. He was able to see her face the same as every other kid in her class.  (I was back stage so I was able to see all of the girls exactly the same.) 
I’m feeling slightly triumphant now about the makeup thing. But despite all of my disdain for everything that revolved around the recital (which also included the fact that the preschoolers’ moms were required to stay backstage rather than being allowed to watch the performance from the audience), I am pleased Isabelle had the courage to get up on stage, in front of hundreds of people, to perform without stage freight. That is a huge accomplishment! 

End of the tap routine.
CONVERSATIONS · self-esteem · slice of life

Ugly Hat. Happy Head.

“Will you be embarrassed to be seen with me if I wear this hat to pick you up at school?”
“No Mommy.”
“Are you sure? It has ear flaps.”

“I think you look cute!”

“You do?”


It was settled. My daughter thought the ugly hat I grabbed at LL Bean was cute on me. Therefore, we got in line and purchased it.


Parked in my car, TRYING to make this hat look cooler, by wearing sunglasses. (Sunglasses can’t help this hat look cool.)
 Fast-forward to this morning, aka: the first day I actually wore said-hat.

Giggles ensued once it was on my hat, even though it was not clipped on the bottom.

“What’s so funny?” I asked Isabelle.

More giggles.

“Is it my hat?”

Even more giggles.

“That’s great. YOU told me I looked cute in this hat!”

“You look silly.”

Yeah, I know I look silly. But it is cold outside. Cold as in 19°F, but feels like 8°F. My 28 year-old self would die if she saw me walking around with this hat. I never would’ve been caught dead walking around Manhattan in something this ugly! But my 38 year-old self doesn’t care. My ears are warm. If my ears are warm, then I’m happy — no matter how silly I look.

dress-up · self-esteem · slice of life

Tutu – Part II

Flashback to 2013 when Isabelle dressed up as a ballerina for Purim.
Flashback to 2013 when Isabelle dressed up as a ballerina for Purim.

In my mind, tutus serve two purposes: professional wear for ballerinas and dress-up clothes for little girls.  I’ve never been a fan of little girls wearing tutus out of the house.  (Quite frankly, I don’t care if your kid wears a tutu out of the house.  I just find it impractical for my child to wear tulle around her waist when I have to load and unload her into her car seat multiple times a day.)

Two years ago, I wrote about the lavender tutu my friend Lauren made Isabelle for dressing-up. But lately (Read: Now that she’s in preschool!), she’s been asking to wear it to school.  I guess her friend Grace wore a tutu to school. Now she wants to wear one too.  This morning, just as we snapped-up her jacket over her pink dress, the subject of the tutu came up again.

ISABELLE: Can I bwing my tutu to school?

ME: No, it’s for dress-up.

ISABELLE: Gwace’s mommy let her weah a tutu.

ME: But I’m not Grace’s mommy.

ISABELLE: I know. You have diffent wules.

ME: That’s right. All families have different rules.

ISABELLE: Why we have diffent rules?

ME: Because we do. Everybody’s family is different. Do I let you eat cookies?


ME: Maybe Grace’s mommy doesn’t let her eat cookies.


ME: Grace’s mommy lets her wear a tutu to school, but I don’t let you wear one to school. It’s for dress-up.  Your tutu is special. It wasn’t bought in a store like most girls’ tutus. Miss Lauren made it just for you, in your favorite color, so you can wear it at home for dress-up.

ISABELLE: But I wanna me like Gwace.

ME: And I want you to be like you.

ISABELLE: But Gwace is my friend.

ME: She’ll still be your friend even if you aren’t wearing a tutu.


ME: What if I let you bring your tutu to school on Friday and you can wear it in your classroom for dress-up?  But you can’t wear it for snack, lunch, or at circle time.  And you can’t wear it out to recess.

ISABELLE: That would be good.

ME: Okay, so you can bring it to school on Friday.

ISABELLE: {Long pause.} That’s okay. My tutu can stay at home.

I’m not sure if I should declare this a “win.” I don’t know if Isabelle understands she isn’t going to wear the tutu all day long, in place of a skirt or pants, to school — at least not if I’m in charge.  Somehow I have a feeling we’ll be having this conversation tomorrow night or Friday morning before preschool.  We shall see…

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com  for more slices of life.
Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com for more slices of life.
dress-up · holidays · Jewish · self-esteem · slice of life

The Tutu: An Unexpected Purim Costume

The little ballerina is ready for the Purim Carnival.
The little ballerina is ready for the Purim Carnival.

You know those girls who attend music class or go to the supermarket in a tutu?  That’s not my daughter.  I’ve never bought her a skirt that even resembled a tutu since I fear turning her into a diva by running around town in a tutu.  In my mind, tutus are for ballerinas.  I have the utmost respect for ballet dancers.  I’ve taken ballet as a child and again in my early 20s so I know it’s challenging!

My friend Lauren, who danced ballet for years, made Isabelle a tutu for her first birthday.  She asked me what color to make it (I said lavender.)  It was for playing dress-up. The tutu sat in Isabelle’s closet for over a year since it was too big for her.  Today it made its debut — for Purim.

Isabelle was going to wear her Halloween costume (ladybug) for Purim. However, in the middle of the night I had a NEW idea for her Purim costume.  It wouldn’t cost a cent (Yea!) and would be a good photo opp.  What would she be?  A ballerina, of course.

When I woke up this morning, I searched for a pair of black tights in the sock/tights drawer of her room.  All I came up with were a pair of black 12-24 month sized tights from the Baby Gap that she wore for Rosh Hashanah in 2011!  Would they fit?  If not, no tutu!  Then, I looked for a black onesie since she doesn’t have a leotard.  I found a black turtleneck onesie in her drawer.  Yea!  But would the tutu fit?

After breakfast, I brought Isabelle upstairs and bribed her with the Maccabeats Purim video while I put the tights on her.  (She hates tights!)  I got them on her without so much as a grimace.  (Yea Maccabeats!)  Surprisingly, they weren’t too small.  I guess they have a lot of spandex in them.  Next came the onesie.  That was a cinch to get on.  Finally, the big test came when I stood her up to put on the tulle tutu.  One leg in, then the next.  I shimmied it up to her waist and it didn’t fall.  It fit!  She would be a ballerina after all!

I pulled her hair back into a slop-knot ponytail, which is the only kind she’ll tolerate.  However, I didn’t want all of the pieces flying around since she does have curly hair, after all.  So I did the unthinkable.  I found my hairspray and began to spray it in her hair.  It was the first time she’s ever come into contact with hairspray.  I shuddered each time I misted it over her toddler hair.  Was I creating a diva or was I just getting my daughter dressed up for a Purim Carnival?  I decided not to beat myself up over the hairspray since it was for a special occasion.  So, I moved on.

There she was, dressed as a ballerina in her purple tutu.  She looked darling as I had her spin around the room.  Much older than the two year old she is.  And while she looked very pretty, I must admit, I was delighted to put her corduroy pants back on her after the Purim carnival was over.  Corduroy pants are everyday play clothes.  At least that’s how we roll.

physical appearance · raising strong girls · self-esteem

The Road to Loving Yourself for Who You Are

A few weeks ago I received an email from one a former student’s mom.  She wanted to inform me about a program into which her daughter recently gained acceptance.  She shared a few of the writing samples she provided to the program.  One essay struck a cord with me.  It’s about growing up, self-esteem, and wanting to look like everyone else.  I read it and my heart ached since I wish I had known about the struggles she faced in elementary school.  However, I tried not to beat myself up about this since I know she has grown into a well-adjusted, confident young lady who will enter 11th grade this fall.

I asked this student’s mom if I could share her personal essay in this forum.  She (and her daughter) said yes.  I have not edited it at all.  It appears just the way she wrote it.  After you read it, I’d love to know what you’re thinking about how we can reach out to girls when they’re in elementary school to help them to become more confident with who they are.

Like many other daughters, sisters, and nieces in the world, I was once one of many who suffered from low self-esteem. Even though I was always told I was pretty and beautiful by my parents and family members, I could never find the truth behind those two words. Parents were supposed to tell their daughter that she was beautiful, even if she really wasn’t. What beauty might have stood for my parents and family was definitely not what I felt beauty was. In my eyes being beautiful meant that you had long, flow-like hair, an olive skin complexion, and wore nice clothes. Needless to say, I was not blessed enough to have any of those beauty must-haves. Instead, I had short, ethnic hair that didn’t even past my shoulders or neck. My skin complexion was a deep brown and my clothes were a mix of hand-me-downs and attire that was two seasons too late.

It didn’t help that I attended elementary school where there were a majority of Hispanic girls who had those three beauty must-haves. The African-American girls, who did look like me, were mean and cruel, so I tried to befriend the Hispanic girls. Even though I envied the Hispanic girls around me, I considered them my “friends” because in some ways they accepted me into their cliques. As I grew to know them, I felt that I could slowly turn into them. I wanted to finally be pretty and feel beautiful, even if I had to kiss up to them and just brush off their crude comments. Being a quarter Puerto-Rican didn’t really help me either, being that I felt that I was almost them. It took me a while to finally realize that I would never be them, and would have to learn to love being me.

It was a long journey learning to love who I was, and it took me to the middle of junior high, to learn to do so. It may have been because I began to receive male attention and was even told I was pretty by the girls in my junior high school. Most girls might have used this newfound attention and used it negatively, but I didn’t do so. I didn’t run off and have sex with any guy who told me I was beautiful or do shameful things to continue the male attention. Instead, it gave me the boost to see what I was told all along. What made me beautiful was my huge heart and warm spirit, while physical features attractions were pluses.

When I look back at how insecure I used to be, it doesn’t upset me or wish I’d never gone through what it did. It makes me feel lucky but I know appreciate myself more than I would have if I didn’t have low self esteem before. Going through what I did, has also led me to be a mentor of my eight-year-old sister, Sade. Just like me, she faces insecurity and has even shared wanting to be pretty like the Hispanic girls. I’m able to share my experiences and help my sister understood her beauty, in and out. Low self-esteem and insecurity can way a lot on young girls and is an epidemic even more today. Luckily, my experience hasn’t been negative enough for me to take my life, but hopefully better the life and give life to another. The number of daughter, sisters, and nieces continues to increase, and I hope I can help decrease the number of self-esteem and insecurity cases.