When I was growing up, we were too poor to buy clothes. For the first 8 years of my life, I truly didn’t care or understand that my clothes were different than anyone else’s because they weren’t store bought. What I am about to share with you is probably one of the most pathetic stories I have in my ‘arsenal’ but I want to preface the whole thing with…it is one of my most favorite childhood memories.
I grew up as that kid who LOVED to wear a pretty dress; ruffles made everything better of course and the best was when the neckline was elastic and you could pull the shoulders down to the middle of your bicep for that extra-sexy and exotic look. You remember; usually a latin/peasant style top or dress. Well, there was this one dress that undoubtedly had been handed down from some wonderful family at our church. It was tangerine with white ruffles on the bottom. I loved this dress and would wear it as often as possible with white socks rolled at the ankle and little girlie high heels…gold high heels….to school …. yep, that’s how I rolled.
One day, in third grade, I noticed my teacher staring at my right hand which was holding a busted seam closed. You know what is funny? I obviously knew that the split seam was there and I obviously didn’t think it should be exposed so I chose to spend the entire day holding that seam shut with my hand. It didn’t even occur to me that anything was bad about my decision but once I saw the look in her eye, I became acutely aware that I was wearing a shabby dress and suddenly became insecure. She never mentioned anything to me about it but still….
That evening, while it was still light out, my teacher came to my house and asked my mom (prepare yourselves) if she could take me to the thrift store to buy me some “new” clothes. (pause for sighs) 🙂 Don’t be sad, I was ELATED. My favorite teacher was taking me shopping! (What 8 year old knows what a thrift store is?!) And I was getting new clothes, a new wardrobe, for the first time in my entire life!
I know that my mom was probably more embarrassed than I could ever understand but choking down her pride, she let me go. I can still feel my little hand in Mrs. Dominguez’ kind hand as I skipped down to her car (Teachers have cars?) and into the store.
Today, my daughter’s closet is chock full of clothes straight from the Mall (Abercrombie and Fitch, Hollister, you name it!) and they were lovingly provided by a wonderful and overly generous family member who does not have children of her own to dote over and I am thankful that God has blessed us with “aunt jenny” but I find myself conflicted. I often associate pretty girls with labels on ALL of their clothes as snobby, spoiled, ungrateful, and mean. Sometimes I wish my daughter would ‘suffer’ a little more because it would ensure her becoming a woman of gentle spirit, kind-hearted and so on. Then, God reminds me that in actuality, I, the poor little rich white Mexican girl, have never been gentle of spirit. So do clothes make a difference? Because, to be honest, she is much sweeter to others than I ever was!
Thrift store shopping has become trendy and chic now so I use that to take her shopping there on occasion….. just to keep her balanced.