Britney Spears lyrics have never more true.
When I was 11 years old, a Disney Store opened up in the mall near our house. It was seriously a very exciting time for all of us, especially me, as my birthday was coming up and I felt like it was fate – this store was meant for me.
For my 12th birthday, I received a lovely gift from my parents of a shirt from the Disney Store. It came in a Mickey Mouse box with Mickey Mouse tissue paper and I couldn’t have been more pleased. The shirt was a deep royal purple. It was an oversized henley style top with a strip of buttons running from the neck 1/4 of the way down the front (this is where the magic happened). Peeking out from the button plaque were Mickey, Donald, Goofey, Pluto, and Minnie, all waving happily at me. This shirt made me so happy. I wore it to school with pride. The purple Disney henley and I were inseparable.
About halfway through my 12th year, I was wearing my happy henley and to my shock and (at the time) horror, I was blessed with my first period. I went to the school nurse and she walked me through everything and outfitted me with the necessary supplies. I looked down and my Disney friends were still smiling and waving, but I didn’t want them to see me.
I got home that afternoon and went to my room ripped the shirt off and threw it to the back of my closet. I had this strange feeling of guilt and shame. I was confused with conflicting feelings – I didn’t want my Disney friends to know that anything had changed, but at the same time, I was a woman now, and I didn’t feel like I should be wearing a shirt with characters on it, which I also felt guilty about. The Britney Spears song, Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman, had never felt more true.
The purple Disney henley sat in a ball in the back of my closet for six months. Six months of periods and I was a pro, wise beyond my years – I know what life was about. I went into my closet and fished out the shirt. Wrinkled after sitting like that for months, I laid it on my bed and smoothed it out. I looked at Mickey, Donald, Goofey, Pluto, and Minnie, still waving – not mad at me for what I had done, just happy to be there.
I never wore the shirt to school again, I never wore it out of the house.
I wore the purple Disney henley to bed for years and years. It was comfortable and comforting. Those nights when you don’t want to face growing up, when you don’t want to admit that things are changing, that you are changing.
At the time, I didn’t learn anything from this – I was 13 years old and living very much on the day-to-day. Looking back, its a funny story; it speaks to my emotional attachment to things, it speaks to my early ability to set boundaries, it speaks to my guilt reflex, it speaks to my innocence.