LESSONS FROM A FASHIONABLE 5 YEAR OLD
Try Wearing Sparkles to the Dump
BY VERONICA VICCORA
Once upon a time, I took a brief babysitting gig for a wealthy family in Long Island. For one week, I'd chase 4 children around their massive summer home and wonder how I too might land my own personal tennis court one day. (Never mind that I don't play tennis). Among these 4 children was one we'll call Ruby. Ruby was not yet 6 years old but that the self awareness and fully formed personal style of a woman 7 times her age. One morning, after having a particularly rough night of sleep for example, she entered the kitchen wearing her mother's heels and announced that she may have more difficulty than usual sharing her toys because "she was just so grumpy today." I half expected her to ask for a shot of espresso in her sippy cup.
But it was the day of the trip to the dump that stood out most to me. After my 12 hour shift which turned into 13 hours then 14 hours each time I was suppose to leave, I both looked and felt like I was garbage personified. So when Ruby's father excitedly offered to take the children to ditch their unwanted belongings at the local dumping ground, my initial thought was that he was referring to me. Thank heavens, however, he indeed meant their actual trash. The children lit up like it was Christmas morning. I'm not sure why this was so enthralling for them, but I suppose when you grow up with every toy under the sun, playing with other people's garbage becomes novelty. Similar, perhaps, to how celebrities started indulging in grotesquely overpriced, fashionably pre-distressed clothing. Imagine paying to be distressed? I guess it truly is a luxury to feel that way for free.
But I digress.
Clearly, waiting for this moment to come, Ruby had just the outfit in mind. And a few moments later, she emerged from her room wearing a blue sequin adorned dress, oversized sunglasses, white Mary Janes and her favorite poodle shaped purse (because yes, she had multiple.) Her parents laughed and asked her if that's really what she wanted to wear for such a casual affair. And like a true icon, she unblinkingly said yes. Then she jumped in her Porsche and sped off making business deals on her cell phone.
I looked down at my ratty outfit, my torn jeans that were certainly not purchased intentionally ruined but had ripped along the crotch in a moment of actual distress that day, and wondered how could I be more like that? To be fair, I'm sure it's much easier to be an icon when you're 5 with a trust fund and not 25 with trust issues but damnit I didn't care. I was inspired by the idea that even when Ruby was surrounded by pure trash, she insisted on remaining her elevated self. She didn't bring herself down to the level of garbage, rather she expected garbage to rise to her occasion. I wondered if perhaps part of the secret to becoming iconic was more a matter of how we choose to show up to our circumstances rather than becoming a byproduct of them.
So maybe, the next time your life starts to feel like it's turning into one giant trash heap, try wearing sparkles to the dump.