The Red Dress Project: Be Inspired by Jenny the Bloggess to Find Your Red Dress

8 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to own a pair of red patent leather shoes more than anything in the world.

Just thinking about having sparkly red shoes on my feet made me smile and feel amazing.



Every time we went into the shoe store, I would skip down the aisles like Dorothy on the yellow brick road, convinced that this would be time my mother would say, "YES!" and I would be walk out the door with magic, shiny red shoes on my feet.

I was always disappointed and walked out of the shoe store a bit less magical then when I entered it.

The navy Mary Janes my mother almost always picked out for me were comfortable, serviceable and practical, and it wasn't long before I stopped asking for anything different.

But I never stopped thinking about them.

And yesterday I thought about them again when I read "The Traveling Red Dress" post and project by Jenny Lawson ("The Bloggess").

Jenny writes:

I want, just once, to wear a bright, red, strapless ball gown with no apologies. I want to be shocking and vivid and wear a dress as intensely amazing as the person I so want to be. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized how often we deny ourselves that red dress and all the other capricious, ridiculous, overindulgent and silly things that we desperately want but never let ourselves have because they are simply “not sensible.”

That resonated for me.

After the infallibility of childhood wore off, the insecurity of adolescence and being overweight made red shoes seem inappropriate and yet another thing to make me feel awkward in public. Then came young adulthood and a too-early marriage rife with poverty and struggle -- hardly ingredients to be able to desire or be able to purchase such a thing.

More struggle.

More poverty.

More growing up.

And suddenly I was in my 30s, and I'd never owned a pair of red patent leather shoes until one summer day in 2008.

I was preparing to attend my first BlogHer, and while I was utterly excited, I was also almost sick with anxiety. What if people thought I sucked? What if they thought my blog was trite and silly? What if I didn't know anyone?


All these thoughts raced through my mind as I went to store after store trying to find the right thing to wear and the right shoes to buy.

And suddenly, there they were.

My red shoes.




When I tried them on, they made me feel just as magical, special, and invincable as I imagined that they would as child.

I didn't really have anything to wear with them, but I didn't care.

I plunked down my credit card and I SKIPPED out of that shoe store.

And I wore them like nobody's business to that conference and had an amazing time. They became my "Magic Shoes." I have worn them on some of my most memorable moments, to intimidating business meetings, during times when I felt beautiful, and on days when I just need reminding that I am worth so much more than I think I am.

I love those shoes.

I love what they represent so much more.

Twenty-eight years of yearning and waiting for that feeling to happen IS TOO LONG, PEOPLE.

Jenny gets that.

I had my shoes, she had her dress.

And this week, she got it. And it is beautiful.

And she is going to share it with you.

It will be traveling with her to be worn by women who will love it and feel as beautiful in it as she does. It will be mailed all around the country and will be coming to BlogHer so that "other people can wear it and love it and feel as special and vivid and dynamic as they already are. Because sometimes we all need a little red dress to remind us of that."

EVERYONE has a "red dress."

It is something that you need, want, covet and for whatever reason have not asked for.

You know you have one.

I know you have one.

Jenny knows you have one.

And she and her beautiful dress are here to give you the nudge and encouragement you need to go out and get it for yourself.

Jenny writes:

So today, think about what it is you need and were too embarrassed to ask for. And then go fucking do it. Wear a ball gown to the grocery store. Invite the neighbors to have a picnic on the front lawn. Get that novel out of your sock drawer and publish it yourself. Stand on a bus stop bench and belt out a song for the waiting strangers. Find a playground swing and remember how it felt to fly. Find your red dress. And wear the hell out of it."

What are you waiting for?


I'm so glad I did.

*Photos courtesy of Karen Walrond.

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