It was the summer of 1989. I had received a Jacquard tie dye kit for my birthday and my best friend and I had made tie dye shirts together and would wear them everywhere we went. We had a name for ourselves when we dressed up in our tie dye shirts and flipped our hat bills up: Cool Girls. And we had not thusly named ourselves with any hint of irony… we knew we were cool girls. My friend had a Real Brand skateboard with daisies on the deck and I had a sweet Huffy mountain bike with hand brakes. We would listen to Richard Marx on the Compact Disc player my friend’s parents had recently bought, and as Richard sang “Angelia” we would wish he were singing to us. (Side note: I remember my friend once trying to convince me she had magical powers because she didn’t have to rewind the song to replay it. I knew it wasn’t magic, but I was stumped as to the real cause of such wizardry.)
Tie Dye Shirts with Super Powers
Living in the country, I was usually stuck spending most of the summer playing with my brother. But at least once a week, my parents or my friend’s parents would make the drive so we could play together. On days when I went to her house, we’d wear our tie dye shirts and clam digger bermuda shorts and cruise the sidewalks (because, unlike me, she lived in town.) If I was feeling uncool, putting on a tie dye shirt was akin to Clark Kent emerging from the telephone booth as Superman. Our “outfits” had the super power of coolness. Cool Girls was the name of the game and we were winning.
That complete confidence I had as a Cool Girl changed over the years. My best friend went on to be one of the most popular girls in our junior high and high school. She really was one of the cool girls and I was just a teenager who wished I was cool. I’ll spare you the sob story, since it’s not much of a page-turner, but I came around eventually. I learned to stop comparing myself to others and to really love myself in my twenties. So when my friends were all getting husbands and I was still single at 32, I knew it wasn’t because of my thighs, my personality, or anything else about me. I loved who I was, and knew that, whether or not someone else loved me, nothing could change the fact that I was awesome. Somehow, unconsciously, I had returned to my former confidence. I was a born-again Cool Girl.
Today I make, wear, and sell tie dye shirts that are slightly different from those tie dye kit shirts we made so many years ago. Okay, they are completely different. Those shirts faded after the first wash and the designs were pretty basic from what I can recall. But the feeling I get every time I put on a tie dye I’ve made is still the same: My stride is a little more confident, my smile a little wider, and my attitude a little more like that of a Cool Girl.
Do you need a boost of super-power-like confidence? I’m pretty sure my tie dye shirts can’t change your identity. But perhaps they can remind you of what you already know to be true: You ARE cool. Not because of what anyone else thinks, but because you are inherently unique, one-of-a-kind, and awesome. Kind of like a good tie dye shirt.