Tutus Teach Life Lessons


Until two summers ago, the last time I wore a tutu was when I was five years old…


My first tutu, age 5

Tutus are Adventures:

“Tutu Tuesday” is an established part of the annual week-long event, Burning Man. (learn about Burning Man here). It’s well known that on Tuesday, attendees wear Tutus. Why? Because you can! 

About two years ago I posted on my personal Facebook page about a brave woman who wore a tutu during a running race. (http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5043271). I admired what she did, and how her true story shamed the media that wrongly profiled her. A few of my friends commented on the story, but the one that surprised me was a former work colleague who emphatically stated “grown women should not wear tutus unless they are a ballerina!”  Her opinion felt, to me, so limited. All I could say to her was that maybe, someday, her young daughter may teach her about the right to choose one’s own fashions (as kids often have a way of teaching parents much needed lessons, including no age limits on tutus…). 

As I prepared for my first trip to that amazing art festival in the desert, I bought myself a tutu. I giggled at the irony that an event comprised of such rebellious creativity offered a unique way to conform to the crowd. Following my own whims, I bought other pieces and accessories to go with my new, aqua blue tutu. Fanciful items that delighted my inner 5-year-old. During one of my costume hunts, I found something for my Adventure Partner to wear…he had never worn a tutu (let alone any kind of skirt) and the short fluffy ones weren’t his “style.”

One of the special feelings about Burning Man that’s hard to describe in words is the atmosphere of everyone being accepted for who they are as individuals. Despite all the internet photos of PYT (pretty young things) in festival garb, the majority of people have regular-shaped bodies. Although I am already fairly comfortable in my own skin (and as a mom understand deep down the miracles it produced), by Tuesday I had come to accept my body as not only “perfect just as it is”, but okay with wearing outfits that showed it off. All judgements had been lifted. (Side note- I noticed about a month later when I was looking at photos of myself how that little inner critic was piping up…pointing out my curves and whatever else. The judgements. I had to shut my eyes and remember that wonderful feeling of self-acceptance and let go of my self-deflating criticisms).  


I gleefully put on my tutu outfit, my fella put on his, and we set out for our day’s adventures. I believe he found his outfit freeing in a way. Because skirts flow and aren’t as restrictive as shorts. And there’s something about doing things differently (for him wearing a tutu was VERY different) that changes one’s perspective. In this case, we felt a sense of freedom, which opened us up to fun we never expected. 

Even cowboys wear tutus

Even cowboys wear tutus

Connection Made:

In the middle of the desert, in the middle of all that goes on at Burning Man, in the middle of the week of being unplugged (mostly), we came across a telephone booth where the camp was gifting 3-minute phone calls anywhere. Did I want to call my kids and tell them I was safe? No. Did I want to call my mom and tell her how amazing this was? No. Did I want to check in with work? Definitely No. I called Grammy. My (then) 97-year-old grandmother was energized and delighted with my call. I told her I was wearing a tutu. Did that phase her? Not at all. Seemed natural…and more importantly, fun. Her mind immediately went to how to have more fun, and offered to teach me how to make my own tutus (as she had done for daughter over 70 years ago).  She loved the stories of this “crazy art event.”  

Completely comfortable in a tutu at Burning Man, talking to Grammy

Completely comfortable in a tutu at Burning Man, talking to Grammy

She also was unfazed by my telling her my partner was wearing a tutu. Actually, the next day when I was able to check emails on my cell phone (not an easy feat out there!) she had sent a photo of her and her boyfriend…and he was wearing a tutu! (They were 89 at the time!) My connection to my grandmother deepened. Our hearts connected over the life lessons of loving who we are, fun and tutus. 

Grammy (in suit) and her boyfriend (in a tutu, so Grammy told me)

Grammy (in suit) and her boyfriend (in a tutu, so Grammy told me)

This past year my beloved Grammy died. We never did get to make tutus together. But her lesson of “life is fun” lives on as I not only learned how to make tutus, but shared the fun of making them with others too!

What were the life lessons?  That by wearing something different, fun, and maybe a little outrageous, your self-perception can shift to a better, more positive one.  That sharing about your trying new things can lead to learning fun things about others you thought you knew so well, deepening your connection.  

Your turn! Would you wear a tutu?  Marathoners have started wearing them, often to help attract attention to a cause.  What skill can you learn, that your grandparent (or other beloved elder) can help you with or maybe tell you stories about?  Try it and see how much fun you have doing this!

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1 Comment

  1. Elida

    Aritcles like this just make me want to visit your website even more.


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