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Tutus and Tiaras, or Lessons in Being Yourself

Before our daughter was born, it was tradition that my husband and I donned costumes for our annual holiday photo. One year we were Elvis and a Dolly-wanna-be in front of a car with a giant chicken on its roof (we live in Nashville, remember) and another year we dressed up as Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera (I am Latin and moody, remember). For the Frida shoot, I painted on a unibrow and wore a headband of silk roses that I meticulously created with the help of a glue gun and patience.

On Friday, I gave that headband to Maria, who was participating in a Cinco de Mayo event at her school.

Her eyes grew so wide when I pulled it out of its place in storage. "Mama, it is beautiful,'' she said breathlessly.

She's barely taken it off since.

And because I have a girl-child, I am used to tiaras and ruffles and glittery shoes. But what I noticed this week is that my daughter can walk the aisles at Target, order quesadillas at her favorite restaurant, or swing at the playground wearing tiaras, tutus and rose-covered headbands and not once notice the looks she gets. It is quite normal and feel-goody for her to adorn herself in whatever way she pleases and think not of what the person standing next to her may think.

Wow. How fabulous is that?

I can't help but remember all the times I cared too much what people may have thought about what I was wearing, whether I was trendy or my butt looked too big. I don't care too much these days because I have the great privilege of being nearly 42. But at 12 and 20? Yes, I cared. How cool would it be to go back and be 100% yourself? What would I have thrown on? What crazy would I have done to my hair? What fun would it have been?

Maria was out in public last week in a tiara, a blue swim suit, a huge glittery yellow tutu and glitter-covered pink shoes.

An older lady stopped and admired her, told her she loved the look. As Maria walked away, I smiled at the lady and told her it is a shame we outgrow tiaras.

"I hope she never does,'' the lady said.

Me neither.

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