Dressed with love – Columbia Daily Tribune

By Lorry Myers

This was my daughter’s senior year in high school and along with finals and scholarship applications, came prom pressure. Every girl wants an unforgettable dress, something that shows her personality, a dress everyone will be talking about the next day. With this in mind, Mariah asked to start prom dress shopping early, determined to find something that everyone else wanted.

We pulled dresses for her to try on and when Mariah didn’t come out to show me her favorite, I slipped into the line of dressing rooms to see if she needed help with a zipper. Just outside the door, I heard her. Mariah was crying.

Tiny, little, sniffling tears, tears that told me all I needed to know. I cautiously tapped on her door and asked, “Mariah, what’s the matter?” “These dresses just aren’t for me,” Mariah replied, trying to sound like she didn’t care.

My youngest daughter is her own biggest critic, often seeing herself in ways that others do not. So on the way home I suggested that we have someone sew her a dress. She could choose the pattern and the fabric, and the prom dress would be unique to her.

I thought I saw a hint of hope in her eyes. Together, we bought material to go with the formal pattern Mariah had chosen. The long dress was simple with a splash of color and beading that gave the dress personality.

The seamstress took Mariah’s measurements and told us she would call when the dress was ready. I knew something was wrong when Mariah walked in the house carrying the dress in a plastic bag. When I asked, Mariah said the dress was fine, she liked it fine and when she tried it on with her shoes, it was fine.

Something was definitely not fine. I had Mariah try on the dress before she officially started getting ready and when she walked out, I knew she hated everything about it. It was a beautifully made dress, sewed to look just like the pattern; it just wasn’t the dress for my daughter.

What were we going to do? Mariah’s eyes wouldn’t meet mine and her shoulders sagged in a way that made my heart ache. Purchasing fabric and hiring a seamstress had been fairly pricey; we had a bit of money sunk into this dress.

But how could I let my daughter leave home wearing something that made her feel less than she is? I didn’t care how much it cost. “Mariah,” I said, understanding filling my words. “You do not have to wear this dress.”

“You spent all that money …” Mariah said, sounding defeated. “Mariah, ” I said, putting my arms around her, “money isn’t everything.” The next few hours were spent digging through drawers and closets and even my Halloween costume box putting together Cinderella’s gown for the ball.

When Mariah came out to show her dad, she was dressed in a floor length vintage coat with fur trim running up and down the lapel. Underneath she wore a leopard print top from my costume shop and black pants that we had hot gunned with beads, creating an outfit with attitude. Just like the girl who wore it.

Mariah’s hair was curled into wildness and the black fur edged jacket gave her an exclusive rocker look that everyone would be talking about the next day. “Mariah”, I told her, as she stuck a pose, “you look beautiful.” That night, my daughter went to her senior prom dressed in confidence and self-assurance.

She was full of teenage anticipation as she stood in front of the window, poised for the rest of her life. When she left the house on the arm of a handsome boy, she looked back at me with a smile so full of gratitude and love that it left me with tears on my cheeks. There are some things that money just can’t buy.

Reach Lorry Myers at [email protected]

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