Saturday, 11 April 2015

Why the Cinderella dress matters

If you follow me on social media, you’ll probably know I’ve been trying to win a Cinderella dress from Cosplay Sky. There are still days until the competition closes, but I’ve already pretty much seen my ship sail on winning it.

I’ve got lots of feelings about this competition. Most of them are positive. Firstly, there was delirious excitement when, only a few hours after I posted about my entry, I was roaring up the ladder and into second place. Then there was how fun it was when, in a desperate bid to hold onto that second place, my Mum and I worked on our Facebook friend lists for hours one night, and saw my likes going up and up and up. The most overwhelming thing was how positive and supportive people were. No one laughed at me, no one thought it was stupid that I was a grown lady trying to win a Disney Princess costume, they just voted and shared where they could.

When I went to bed the night I was coming second, it was with a big smile on my face and dreams of this moment:

It was short lived though as I lost the lead not so long after I woke up the next morning.

I just don’t have the networks to win a competition based on likes. And that’s okay, I’m okay with my position in the social networking front. What I want to tell you about is why that dress mattered to me so much. And why, even now I know there’s no way I’ll win it, I still can’t quite admit it and give up.

What I really wanted when I entered the competition was to be the best at something. I wanted to be a winner; achieve what I’d set out to achieve.

See, I do a lot of things; pinup, cosplay, writing, working and volunteering, mentoring, I sing a little, I take French lessons… it’s a huge list. And here’s the thing: I am good at all of those things. Good, but not great. I’m competent but not excellent.

In every single one of those pursuits, I put myself out there and most of the time, have a great time, enjoy myself and achieve things. I love doing all those things, or else I'd stop. But more often than not, even when I’ve had fun, I walk away with a feeling of deep disappointment blooming in my belly. I feel like an outsider; not quite a part of things and not quite good enough.

And then Cinderella came along.

From the day I first saw that Cinderella movie poster, I wanted that blue dress be one of my cosplays. But after experimenting with making a simple tulle skirt for another project, I realised that making anything that came anywhere near resembling that dress was not going to come from my sewing machine while I was driving it. Not in the next year or so, while the costume is still relevant at least.
So then I saw the Cosplay Sky contest and thought, “hey, I could win this.”

In the beginning, it was just a dress. But when the other girls in the competition hit 400 likes, then 800 and now well over a thousand, the stupid dress became a metaphor for every other thing I’ve missed out on or not been quite good enough for; promotions at work, my book being published, placing in a pageant, being chosen in a group… 

I’ve been trying to hold onto how awesome it felt in the beginning, when I got up to second place for those few fleeting hours. But I can’t help but feel bitterly disappointed, like one of my happily ever afters got pinched by a few thousand clicks of the mouse in the same way being told your work is good, but not good enough; your performance was excellent and you just missed out by a little; you’re smart, but not as smart as that girl over there…

And that, my friends, is the sad and sorry reason why that silly blue fairy tale dress mattered to me.

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