Fashion Police

This is not a resurrected post, but one that combines past work and present.  I am slowly getting my voice back!  Enjoy!

Years ago, I wrote the following:

The morning we went to the ENT, we had to get up rather early. My husband couldn’t go with us to the appointment, so he decided to help out by getting Silas ready. With Paul, “helping” means a 57% chance of Silas’s nighttime diaper getting changed and a 97.5% chance that Silas will get correctly strapped into his car seat.

If we were to err on the side of the majority, Paul’s help-out routine would be close to acceptable.

Except, I never take Silas anywhere in his jammies unless it’s absolutely necessary. Actually, I need to take that statement a step further. I never take Silas anywhere in clothes that don’t match… well. Okay, I need to go further still. I make a plan for Silas’s next-day outfit every evening. I plan these outfits according, not to the weather, but to whether or not the cut and color scheme will maximize his attractiveness. And, no, I’m not kidding.

If you knew me better, you’d laugh. This oh-so-Prom-Queen-like confession is coming from a woman who wore her unbrushed, untrimmed waist-length hair in a frayed bun secured by a half-chewed pencil for an entire school year. Oh wait, I have to take this further as well. I showed up at school– more than once!– in thick slate gray tights and a mid-calf-length paisley corduroy jumper (blue and purple) that was an obvious throw away from the 70’s. With the bun and the pencil. Sans make-up. And, I call myself an artiste! (If you couldn’t guess from the school references, I’m a teacher. So, yes, I was an adult when that happened. My mother didn’t do it to me. And, for your information, I’ve given that jumper to the Goodwill and have a hip and happening hair cut now.)

Still, when Paul suggested that Silas venture out-of-doors in a green tie-dye t-shirt with a surfing lizard on it and a pair of off-color baby blue pants with stripes on the hem, I had to put my foot down.

Still, I didn’t want to seem to materialistic. Instead of rushing to the closet and dressing Silas myself, I just demanded that Paul change him. Then, I slunk in a corner with my eyes closed and my fingers crossed hoping that Paul chose something that would bring out the richness of Silas’s eyes.

I should have dressed him myself.

Instead of having to make the excuse that we had a rough morning and that’s why Silas was still in his mismatched pajamas, I found myself apologizing for why Silas was dressed like Liberace. We’re, uhhh, practicing for Halloween. You know, to see what will look the best in, uhhh, well, seven months from now.

I feel like the Liberace descriptor is enough. I won’t go into the nature of the outfit. (A button-down frilly collared shirt that Beethoven might have worn to a Red Neck wedding, brown corduroy pants a size too large with Teddy Bears on the pockets and the cuffs, and fluffy white Adirondack with dancing moose even though it was closing in on 75 degrees. Did I mention the mismatching socks?)

Still, I feel like I’m improving. I could have refused to leave the house. Three months ago, I found myself carrying a step ladder into Silas’s room so I could climb up to the top shelf in his closet for a 20 minute search for a pair of pants that would look just right with his oh-so-trendy top. I had changed his pants three times and still wasn’t satisfied. And, that day, we had no plans to leave home.


I still have trouble letting Silas out of the house in unsightly attire.  I buy mostly collared shirts and matching shorts and jeans.  I lay out clothes so that Paul won’t have to dress him and I scold him if he strays from my plan.  And, letting Silas pick out his own clothes?  What blasphemy!  (Although I am trying to be better at that.  I do give him several matching and trendy choices and I feel like I am making progress.)

Still, and you will find this out in just a moment, I am a walking fashion enigma.  As long as Silas is wearing his GQ worthy top and slacks, I, in an attempt to foster his creativity and imagination, let him wildly accessorize.

One of Silas’ favorite personas is his self-created superhero Cape Man.  I have mentioned Cape Man before and have alluded to his costume:  a frayed straw cowboy hat covering a Toy Story sweatshirt worn only off the head and sloping down the shoulders, and now a pair of orange and brown striped socks as super gloves that presumably shoot lasers and keep his hands protected from all manner of evil.  Sometimes he even dons an adult size ten pair of cowboy boots just to complete the look.  While other people– my mom, my sister, my husband even—find this costume alarming and embarrassing, I adore it.  He has taken bits and pieces from his closet and turned them into a powerful fashion statement that can only serve as means to ensure others that they are safe in his superhero presence.

Recently we headed to the library to pick up some new, you guessed it, superhero books and I decided to let him join me in his full get up.  Of course, there were stares and maybe even comments.  Especially when he struggled to pick up books and papers with his hands covered in, what no one would know but us, a pair of slightly dirty socks.  When I told my mother about our experience as Cape Man a la reading hero, she laughed at first, but when she thought about it she seemed a little concerned.  “You don’t want to ostracize him, do you?,”  she chimed in.  I hadn’t thought of that.  Ostracizing.  What a horrible, horrible word.

Besides his obsession with superhero costumes, fireman costumes, cowboy costumes, and rock star costumes, he has also developed an interest in beauty and makeup.  After seeing me decked out like Cruella DeVille for an improv murder mystery that I was part of, Silas couldn’t stop staring and calling me beautiful.  Although I looked like a complete tramp, he noticed my features and my colors and he thought it was nothing more than amazing.

So, lately we’ ve been dabbling—to my husband’s complete dismay—in coloring our eyes and toes.  Yesterday we rubbed neutral shades of shadow on each other’s eye lids all the while squealing and commenting on how pretty we looked.  At a princess birthday party a few weeks ago, Silas visited the “beauty salon” for a complete pedicure with pink, pink toe nails.  Last week, he borrowed his friend Lucy’s purple shorts and pink cowboy hat, golden glitter heart glasses, and a Dora backpack and proceeded to take care of a doll baby.  It was very, very Sir Elton John.

I was thrilled.   Thrilled about all of it.  Especially because he had his collared Cuban-style summer shirt beneath.

Some people are aghast that I let him experiment with this kind of attire.

Recently, a woman snatched a pink whistle out of Silas’ mouth, threw it away and replaced it with a blue one.  I tried to tell her that pink was okay but she wouldn’t budge.

At my baby shower, while showing off the nursery, a woman commented that Silas would turn out gay because I painted his room light green.

What gives?

I may be somewhat of a fashion police in my own way.  I may want my child to look neat and handsome, but I don’t worry about his desire to create a new identity and experiment with beauty.

I once read an article about a young boy who liked to decorate his penis with ink and stick-on glitter stars.  The parents were concerned, but eventually got over it.  I thought “wow, just go for it, dude.”  And, he may or may not do that forever.  (Though probably not.)  More power to him.

I think for length’s sake, I need to stop this post here and now.  Besides, after Silas finishes helping to wash Paul’s truck, we might just check out an episode of Strawberry Shortcake on Netflix.

To being one’s self all the while looking very handsome, I offer you a cheer.  May you let the child you know and the child inside you exercise creativity, fashions sense, and accessory fetishes!






  1. Andrea said,

    August 3, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    I love The superhero attire:) and there’s nothing wrong with boys having pink toenails:)

  2. slysummaries said,

    August 5, 2011 at 1:58 am

    I love this idea of connecting your previous writing to what is going on right now! It’s exercising your voice, which seems to me is back and strong. I’d like to hear more about Silas’s exploration of make up, which is really kind of like war paint. It reminds me of the JCrew ad that got some (conservative) people in such a tizzy… read more here: I read the FOX news article on it and their commentator said some crazy, crazy stuff about causing gender identity disorders and whatnot. Seems to me like if you stifle natural interests and explorations you may cause a crisis. I mean, Kevin lets Lily paint his toenails pink, so he is obviously having a crisis. My mom paints Henry’s toenails, usually yellow. That’s his favorite color.

    But… did you really think “go for it” about the pink sparkly penis? That one would give me pause, but I would try to remember Gloria’s mantra “open and affirming, open and affirming.”

    I think it’s awesome you allow him creative accessorizing!

    • ecoolbeth said,

      August 5, 2011 at 6:34 pm

      No, Sly, it is perfect that you included that J Crew ad. I think I remember a similar situation with a Gap ad. And, there’s the ad from The Body Shop depicting an over-weight naked doll. I think that sparked controversy too.

      And, yes, I did mean “go for it!”. I don’t think it would bother me if Silas decorated his penis. I think that would just be another facet of self-exploration. Still, Paul would totally freak out. So, we’d really have to talk about it.

      Anyhow, thanks for your commentary. I’m still working on that voice thing.

      Love ya!

  3. Kim said,

    August 5, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Love it! Keep it up! 😉

  4. slysummaries said,

    August 5, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    did you delete my comment because I mentioned J Crew?

  5. slysummaries said,

    August 5, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    You don’t look like Fred Savage, so stop saying that.

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