"Umm..Do I...Does it..Does this look OK?"
She smoothed the dress fabric over her legs and turned left and right. She faced away from the mirror for a moment, then faced her reflection full on. Her eyes met mine in the mirror: "Do I look OK?"
I was working with a client at PromaPalooza, an event that gives prom dresses and makeovers to girls in the foster care system. My client, who I'll call A, was having second thoughts about the dress she was wearing.
"Let's do a quick inspection," I suggested. "Boobies locked down? Check. Booty looks good? Check. Can you dance in it? Check."
A nodded yes with each question but didn't seem convinced. I watched as she kept fidgeting in the dress. "If you're not feeling it, then you're not feeling it," I said. "Let's put it aside and find another one."
A said no and shook her head. "Uh-uh, that's not it. I like it. A lot. But it's too different. I'll look like a weirdo."
Here's the part of the story where I tell you about the dress:
The black and white gown was straight out of The Great Gatsby: gleaming, short, shimmery, and made for dancing. Oh, and the entire bottom portion had a feathery fringe. A had a modern, asymmetrical haircut and cool tomboy vibe; she looked stunning in it. Heads turned to follow her when she wore that gown. Other stylists walked from across the room to tell her how unique and modern she was, and how everyone will stop and stare at the prom.
And that's why she hated it.
A has been bounced around from foster home to group home and back again. She's the new girl in every situation. She's the outsider. Everyone always stops and stares at her. She's very, very tired of it. For the first time, she wanted to be like everyone else. She wanted to blend in and be like the other girls. She needed normal.
I thought about it for a minute. Then I said, “Don't let me or anyone else tell you what you want."
And I meant it. I can't tell you how to live your life because I don't have to live it.
And for people like A, average looks awfully nice when your life is rooted in uncertainty. What you find dull and boring can very well be what other people crave. It's so easy to forget that.
You want what you want. And you don't owe anyone an explanation. And neither does she.
After a few more fittings, A chose a different dress, one that was lovely and sweet. It was beautiful: floor length, covered in white swirls, sleeveless, fitted. She jumped up and down in excitement when she saw her reflection in the mirror: she looked like the average suburban teenage girl going to her prom: so fresh and pretty.
Exactly the way she wanted.
Please don't be afraid to say what you want - even if it's not what everyone else wants for you. You deserve a happiness that you define for yourself. And I want that happiness for you, too.