10,000 Dresses

Marcus Ewert and illustrator Rex Ray burst this sweet children’s book into the sunlight a few years ago (Seven Stories Press, 2008) and I’ve been beaming ever since.

What is wonderful about 10,000 Dresses is that it’s about friendship found on the journey of becoming one’s best self.  In truth, it’s about manifesting all our dreams of what the adorned world should be like: one that not only has room for fabulousness in terms of civil rights policy, anti-hate crime legislation, access to medical support, fair employment practices, safe school, work, home, and prison environments for LGBTQ’s, but also a world interested in supporting and investing in our sartorial visions — a world where FASHION IS OURS on our own terms.

A young trans girl dreams of dresses every night, and when she rises she tells first her mother, then her father, then her brother. Each rejects her dreams, saying “Little boys don’t wear dresses!”   They have it all wrong.  Finally she makes friends with a neighborhood girl, and they begin to sew sparkling mirror gowns that reflect a their world around them … 

Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake  once commented about this book. He said (not a direct quote): “If I had read this book as a child, I would have had a much happier childhood…”

The point was: all kids dream of what they want to wear, and so do adults.  We spend the rest of our life either fighting for, or materializing, our dreams. Because dreams are what life is made of.   As far as I can tell, the only thing worth living for.

Plus, queers are hot.

We know appearance matters — eh?  Fashion is neither frivolous, nor something “just for girls.” Hate crimes against LGBTQ’s involve the perpetrator “reading” of a person based on the cues and signals of their clothing and appearance —  an interpretive act which, motivated by homophobia, competition, and violent tendencies, can result in fatality.  LGBTQ’s know this reality of dressing in a homophobic and transphobic world.

In the 90’s and early 2000’s we saw an upsurge in the # of children’s books featuring gay, lesbian, transgender parents — diversifying the imagery of kinship and family structures in the kid’s book world.   I’m certain that push has helped zillions of children and adults find comfort, pleasure, and support in seeing themselves reflected in something as formative as a good children’s story.   And the work continues.

But now, we have a book for the queer/LGB/trans fashion designer , dreamer, and maker in you …

The colors and illustrations of the book open up the writing — so refreshing! There is rhythm and hope.  Isn’t this how we maintain connection to our dreams of a creative and inspired reality — a world ruled not by commodity and strict, scripted roles, but rather by ruled by visions of the absolutely possible?

You have permission.

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