My artsy third grader has been setting herself a challenge each day. The night before, she’ll put one of her My Little Pony toys in a place of honor on her dresser. That pony becomes tomorrow’s theme, and she chooses her outfit as if that pony was the one choosing it.
Sometimes this means approximating an actual outfit worn by the characters (usually in their Equestria Girls forms, because, human-shaped), sometimes it means just wearing a shirt that happens to have the character on it. But most times it’s more about thinking empathetically: what would Pinky Pie wear?
In the picture above you see three shirts my daughter has worn on “Pinky Pie Days.” Being that she and the boisterous Pinky Pie have shockingly similar personalities*, finding appropriate “Pinky Pie Day” outfits is pretty easy for her. All these shirts are pink, for the obvious example. But only the first shirt is overtly Pinky Pie. The second shirt is from a completely different franchise, but that’s not important. If party pony Pinky was choosing her outfits from my daughter’s wardrobe, she’d definitely be drawn to a picture of cheerful snack food. It’s a party on a shirt! Likewise the third—I don’t know if Pinky Pie specifically loves bacon—that would be kind of weird for a pony—but she does passionately love junk food of all types, and reacts to her favorites pretty much how my daughter reacts to bacon. She also has been known to imitate pigs in order to entertain people. Pinky Pie does, I mean. Oh, okay, and my daughter.
So, Friendship Is Magic fans, any guesses which character was Pony of the Day when my daughter put this next outfit together?
No? It’s Fluttershy. Note the entire ensemble is light, flowy, and feminine (a definite switch from Pinky Pie’s t-shirts), gentle like Fluttershy. The animal print on the shirt—and the fact that it is clearly not actual animal skin!—hints at her animal-loving ways. And the flower on the headband is the perfect final touch, not only for a feminine nature-lover, but the floppy pink curves of it are awfully reminiscent of the butterflies in Fluttershy’s cutie mark.
Would even the biggest MLP fans among you, if you saw this outfit out on the street, be likely to think, “Oh, that’s Fluttershy,” if I hadn’t told you? Probably not. This isn’t the kind of stealth cosplay you use to signal to fellow fans. This is strictly an exercise for you, for identifying with characters—a little secret you can have in the back of your head as you wear it.
Come to think of it, I do this too, sometimes. I have a Peggy Carter dress. It’s not modeled after any particular outfit Peggy actually wore. According to the date on the pattern, it’s even several years too modern. But I feel like Peggy Carter in it. I feel like she WOULD wear it if given the option. And while searching for that last image I linked to, I found this: see? I’m not the only one who sees it! I even have a floral blouse that reminds me of Peggy’s friend, and SSR receptionist, Rose. It’s not period or anything. But whenever I look at it, I think, boy, Rose would totally wear this blouse. I put it on and go out into the world thinking, “I look like a mild-mannered receptionist, but if need be I am a well-trained fighter-spy!”
I like this project as both a writer/story-geek and a mother who wants to develop empathy in her kids. It’s a way to get inside the brain of different characters and really think about the choices they would make, even if those choices are simply what to wear to school.
Plus it’s just fun to think about your favorite characters every time you look in a mirror.
This morning, on Twilight Sparkle day, I unthinkingly fetched her a pair of striped socks: “No, not these. These are Rainbow Dash socks!” Oh. She was right. Well, maybe next time she’ll remember to get her own socks.
*About a year ago there was a thing going around on social media where you had to pick the three fictional characters that best described yourself.** I picked characters for each of my children, too. My daughter is Pinky Pie, Dot Warner,*** and Claudia Kishi. Those of you of a certain age—i.e. those who knew who Claudia Kishi is without having to click—can probably see what I mean about that one through this post alone. As soon as she started dressing herself, she’s always had that Claudia-esque creative flair. I think she’s managed to recreate exact BSC cover outfits completely by accident before.**** She also has Claudia’s problem with spelling, but that’s another story.
**Mine are Luna Lovegood, Evelyn “Evie” Carnahan O’Connell, and, somewhat obviously, Mrs. (Jean) Weir (but it isn’t just because of the name! This is the best actual description of her personality I can find, though, and it doesn’t say much. It’s better than the description on IMDB, though, which says, in full, “The mom.”), if you were curious.
***I kind of waffle between her and Anne Shirley for my daughter, because she is very Anne Shirley-esque, but when I have to narrow it down to three, it feels like something is missing if I don’t show her somewhat devious manipulative prankster-who-uses-cutesiness-to-get-away-with-stuff side with Dot. The add-three-characters-together-to-get-one-personality response is above, but if I had to pick just one character, I might skip all three and just go with Anne Shirley.
Incidentally, there is a Fandom Wikia for everything, isn’t there.
****I showed her some examples of Claudia outfits after I wrote this. Her eyes got wide and she shouted, “Best. Outfits. EVER!” There you have it.