So I “dressed down” for Homecoming week at Foley High School. Dressing Down is simply when students and faculty get to dress in costumes as part of Homecoming activities on campus. You might have seen me, and if you did, you might not have known who it was until the whispering started. Oh, I heard you, ya whisper.ers. “That’s Mrs. Major??” It takes a lot of guts for a woman to come to work dressed like a man, not once but twice in one week, and I’m not sure I would describe myself as “gutsy.” Why would I put myself through the stares, the laughter, and the comments?
I find it really hard to tell my students to get out of their comfort zones if I’m not willing to do it myself. I know that philosophy doesn’t work for everyone, but I teach 9th grade Leadership. Our whole class is about getting out of your comfort zone and becoming the person you were meant to be. So I like to lead by example. “Hey guys and girls, dress up for Homecoming. I will be dressed up.” What I actually said was,” I will be whooping it up next week. You definitely need to wear a costume too.”
Getting out of my comfort zone is good for me. I’m not all that outgoing, despite having a job where I stand in front of hundreds of people every day. I was never in a school play. I didn’t dress up for Homecoming when I was in high school. I’m actually pretty shy, and doing things out of my ordinary is a great way to practice…being unordinary. Living on the edge. Sucking all the marrow out of life.
Carpe diem, baby!
Sometimes I have to pretend I’m not shy. Sometimes I pretend I am gutsy, and in the process, I become that very thing. Dressing up in a big way for Homecoming week takes guts. You’re either in or you’re out. Well, I went all in.
And dressing crazy is even harder for someone like me, because I may be the most vain person walking the halls of Foley High. Now, I am no beauty queen. As I slide toward 50, wrinkles mock me in the mirror, and gray hairs, well, darn them, they’ve become my unwanted companions. I normally don’t show up for work without my 15 hour long-wear lipstick and some earrings. I know how to protect my image. I’ve used the same Facebook profile photo for the last four years, so it appears as if I haven’t aged a day. I delete all pictures of me that aren’t flattering. My kids may think I didn’t actually exist during their childhood, because I was either taking photos or deleting the bad shots of me off the camera. I’m no Angelina Jolie; there have been many a bad shot deleted.
And yet this week I whooped it up.
I joked with friends that it took a lot to make a face like this look that bad, but you know, apparently it didn’t take all that much. A couple of freshman said I actually scared them. Several adults said they really didn’t believe it was me until I spoke. I wasn’t beautiful like Cinderella. I looked pretty bad. I know it and I can own it. I went all in.
Finding an outfit wasn’t that hard. Standing in front of the mirror and applying children’s Halloween make up at 7 a.m.? Slicking my hair back with hair gel? Easy. Cafeteria duty with 400 staring-teenage-opinionated faces? Walking out into the hallway between classes? Those duties were hard. But I talked a lot about dressing up with my classes, and it was then my personal “put up or shut up” time. Time to get out of my image conscious comfort zone, throw away that vanity, and shake some hands in the hallway. It was time for some laughs, even if they were at my expense. I can laugh at myself, and guaranteed, I laughed a whole lot louder than you.
How do you wear such unflattering costumes during Homecoming week? Dressing scary, dressing crazy, dressing unrecognizable…
You just take a big leap, put on some face paint and funny clothes, and walk out on that stage of life. And you tell yourself it doesn’t matter what other people think about your costume, because all that matters is what you think.
I think I looked pretty funny, even when I looked my absolute worst. I had a blast. That’s all that matters at the end of the day. As I hung up my grandpa pants, I thought to myself, “I might could use those again next year.”
And so now you ask yourself, what are you bringing to Homecoming week?
Carpe diem, baby.
Amanda Major is a senior English teacher at Foley High School, plus the Foley Lion’s Roar faculty sponsor. When she is not embarrassing her teenage children, she takes long walks with her dogs and pretends to clean her house. She also writes Disney World travel articles on her website Cheapskate Princess; nobody there knows what she looks like during Homecoming week.
Some shots from other years…