To Be Maxie Pearl: A Photo Essay
The heinous dress kept calling to me. And like a traffic accident, I couldn't stop from sneaking peaks. It was a pink on pink confection, bubblegum on top with matching bows on a fuchsia ballerina skirt. Oh, and did I mention Hello Kitty's puss emblazoned across the bodice? My teeth hurt just looking at it.
I was standing in the checkout line at Macy's buying last minute Christmas gifts when the monstrosity caught my eye. My cynical inner voice couldn't help but query, "What poor Filipino sweat shop kid pieced together that dish rag?" But quashing the cynicism was another voice, one that was more powerful, more resonant, and I'm embarrassed to admit, surprising fey, "Maxie would love it!" Followed immediately by, "And I have a coupon!"
I'm not sure which gave me the fortitude, the possibility of making my daughter deliriously happy or twenty-five percent off the already discounted price, but either way, I grabbed a 5T off the rack and continued towards the register.
My daughter is a girly girl. As much as I try to broaden her palate, she continually leans towards pinks and purples, princesses and fairies, drop waist dresses and heavy eye makeup. As a matter of fact, dresses are a must. She absolutely refuses to wear pants; even leggings are an iffy endeavor. And while my seven year old son is practically sock challenged, my three year old daughter can pull on a pair of tights in record time when fashion dictates.
Last week, Maxie wrapped a scarf around her head, slid on a pair of sunglasses, and proffered a pout that Kim Kardashian would kill for...she was ready for preschool. When we got there, or rather, when Maxie made her entrance, I heard two of the older girls gush, "Ohhh, look at her!"
I'm sure this is wrong, but as I prompted Maxie to say thank you, which she refused to do because her pout had taken on a life of its own, I was filled with an enormous sense of pride. My daughter is going to be a fashion icon. And in Hollywood, that can be a successful career!
Many parents indulge in this type of daydream, but mine has the distinct possibility of becoming reality. I'll prove it. Let me share with you what it's like to be Maxie Pearl: the decisions, the dilemmas, the designer knock-offs.
The dresses in a little girl's closet should be a balance of fantasy and every day. Along with the seven princess dresses (two of them mermaids), two ladybug costumes, four pairs of fairy wings and a silk kimono, are an array of party frocks, which Maxie isn't afraid to wear to school, and sometimes with sneakers. Always a step ahead, that girl.
And speaking of kicks, shoes play an important role in my daughter's aesthetic. Is it a sandal day? Perhaps a saucy strap or a kicky boot? An open toed shoe in the rain? Galoshes in sweltering heat? Why not? Practicality has no say. This is about fashion.
As Betsey Johnston once told my daughter...well, not Betsey Johnson exactly, more like a drag queen impersonating Betsey Johnson, and when I say drag queen, I mean my husband in a cheap wig after a few too many...actually, when it comes right down to it, who uttered the sentient words is not as important as how my daughter heard them... A girl cannot have too many handbags.
Maxie feels it's important to have an assortment: some clutches, some with straps, some to hold little doggies (the stuffed animal of choice), some to sleekly hide an Ariel cell phone or a kiwi lip gloss.
This white papa has learned a thing or two about black girl hair. It's not just about follicle growth. It's an ongoing way of life. The village constantly asks what I put in Maxie's hair. Well, I use any combination of detangling shampoo, leave-in conditioner, scalp conditioner, moisturizing lotion, oil, glossing polish, and hair milk. And it is only with these products that I can brush, comb, twist, braid, puff and pigtail Maxie's hair using her favorite bows, clips, ties, barrettes, headbands, scrunchies, and hair bobs.
Maxie also believes accessories are key. She will tie an ensemble together with jewelry, scarves, eye ware, and sometimes yes...
...just the right tiara.
On Christmas morning she ripped off the dreidel gift wrapping, pulled aside the Kwanzaa tissue paper and as if it was the shroud of Turin she gingerly lifted the Hello Kitty dress from the box. Instantaneous awe. She insisted on taking off her penguin Christmas pajamas and putting on the eyesore right then and there.
Oh God, my mother is going to see it. I'm sure she'll have some snappy quip. Or maybe my feminist-leaning sisters will pipe in, "Why do you always buy Maxie pink dresses?" Couldn't my daughter wait until we get back to LA? To the privacy of our own home? Then if I really hate it, I can dig out the receipt, return it without her knowing and feign ignorance, "I have no idea where the dress went."
Too late. It's over hear head. Right arm. Left arm. Oh God, she's twirling. Maybe no one saw. Maybe...
Hold up. This dress isn't half bad. In fact...
...it's kinda cute.
Holy Mother, my mother is complimenting her. Hallelujah!
Contrary to what my husband might think, the best thing this Christmas wasn't getting a MacBook Pro, it was that Maxie Pearl's dress didn't suck.