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When 9-Year Old Girls Steal Your Joy

I was attending a midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show at a local theater, but was about an hour early. Midnight showings are meant to be wild, crazy, and sexy, with everyone having fun, so in the spirit of the show I had dressed up as “Columbia” from the “floor show” sequence of the film (it’s common for people to dress as characters). The outfit was very revealing, but I was wearing additional clothing while waiting in the lobby with some friends. However, I had lots of face paint on because the character wears clown-like face paint during the scene.

I saw a flash to the side of me, and turned to see some girls, aged about 9, taking photos of me without my consent and giggling. They had accidentally left the flash on, and acted shocked and embarrassed when I glared at them but soon resumed taking photos of me, laughing and making comments like “what a freak” purposely just loud enough for me to hear.   I have some social anxiety, and at this point I was devastated and depressed. I felt like a big idiot. I wanted to curl up under the table.

Soon, two adult women came over to the girls, who pointed me out and gleefully told them how weird I was. The women scolded the girls and told
them to leave me be, because “if her momma lets her go out in public like that, let her do it.” May I add that I am an adult, and my “momma” does not dictate how I dress. But I did appreciate them telling the girls they were wrong.

The women began to approach me. I thought they would apologize on behalf of the girls, but instead one of them said coldly to me “You know, they’re just kids. Okay?”
I was shocked but I managed to say “Uh…I know…”  She repeated, “Kids. They’re just little kids, okay?” Then she gave me a look that confirmed she, too, thought I was a product of Satan, and marched away with the kids in tow, still giggling and pointing their phones at me. No apology. She had the nerve to insinuate that I had been the rude one!   I haven’t been back to see the show at that theater again. I can’t bring myself to. 0425-15


For those unfamiliar with Rocky Horror Picture Show characters, this is what “Columbia” looks like.

Two of my daughters dress up in full costumed regalia for the premieres of movies like the Pirates of the Caribbean series and the Lord of The Rings/Hobbit movies so this custom is not unfamiliar to me.   It’s loads of fun and movie premieres can be highly anticipated events in our family primarily for the opportunity to show off costumes that have required months of preparation.  My daughter’s dwarf costume complete with realistic beard and craft foam “leather” armor was pretty amazing.

However, there is an unspoken understanding that wearing costumes in public places most certainly does attract attention.  The vast majority of it is positive or at least neutral.   My daughters have been asked to pose with theater patrons, particularly children, for photographs because  people perceive them as being a live interpretation of what they have or about to see.   It just adds to the fun for everyone.   Are there the occasional curmudgeons who whisper under their breath about how stupid it is to wear a costume? Yep, there sure are…and who gives a flying flip what they think?

You permitted a few 9-year old girls to steal your joy. Two total strangers who haven’t yet celebrated a double digit birthday had such enormous power over you that they changed your entire attitude and mood and altered your future behavior.  At Ehell.com, we really discourage the unfortunate practice of giving other people considerable power to affect our thoughts and actions negatively.   A polite spine also includes the ability to simply not care what the rude riff raff of the world thinks or says about us.

When you glared at the girls, all you did was send the very clear message that you can be manipulated to react poorly and that you have lost control of the situation to a pack of little girls.  I would never give anyone that kind of information about myself so that they have a power advantage over me.  The beauty of etiquette is that it gives us a framework of behavior so that we retain control of ourselves and often of the situation itself.   You could have completely ignored the girls since their opinions of your costume and make-up is totally irrelevant to you due to the fact that they are strangers who you have never seen before and will likely never see again.  The gutsy Ehell way of doing things would have been to stride right up to the girls with a happy smile on your face, introduce yourself as follows,  “Hi, “I’m costumed as ‘Columbia’ from the movie ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ playing in about an hour. She’s a pretty cool character in the movie, are you familiar with her?   Would you like a photo with me? ”      If they decline, giggling, you confidently stride back to your waiting friends waving, “Good bye, enjoy the rest of your night!”  Doing so sets the atmosphere for the situation to be a positive one with you clearly in control of yourself, the situation and you come off looking powerful and gracious.  Win-win all around for everyone.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • K April 30, 2015, 6:34 am

    “Hi, “I’m costumed as ‘Columbia’ from the movie ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ playing in about an hour. She’s a pretty cool character in the movie, are you familiar with her?”

    Given that Rocky Horror is a cert 12 film – and the stage show is usually much ruder – I would not ask girls that age that question.

    I would ignore them.

  • Wendy B. April 30, 2015, 7:58 am

    OP: it’s called Cosplaying and is it so very common anymore I’m surprised the girls haven’t heard of it. (They probably have and were just being little jerks.) While usually found at conventions, (such as sci-fi, comic book, etc.) it is also more and more common in general. And there are many, many, MANY people in the world who do it. I suggest finding some communities online that embrace the hobby and join in. Then go out there and OWN it. *hug*

  • Columbia! April 30, 2015, 9:34 am

    Hi, this is the original submitter of this post!
    I would like to thank you all for your feedback as well as clear some things up. First of all, the girls weren’t there for Rocky Horror Picture Show- they had come out of a previous movie and were waiting for their mothers to come out of their own movie and get them. I have no doubt that they would have felt foolish if they were in fact there for RHPS! Also, at this theater the midnight show is very sparsely attended, so apart from the cast, not many people dress up. This isn’t the case for all theaters, however, which is why I said it was very common.
    Secondly, if I were dressed as a character from Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, I would have definitely posed for some pictures. I used to dress up as Hermione for Harry Potter movies as a child and I have done some family-friendly anime cosplay, so the thought did cross my mind before I started hearing the “freak” comments. But I was dressed as a character from a very sexual R-rated movie, and I didn’t think it would be appropriate to talk to children about a movie they weren’t even halfway old enough to see, or pose for a photo with them when I was still dressed pretty provocatively.
    As someone already pointed out, the photo of Columbia that Admin very kindly attached was not the photo of the outfit/face paint I was wearing. In fact, it was closer to this:
    If something like this happens to me again, I will be sure to remember the advice of the eHellions and try to have a bit more of a Polite Spine! Thank you all again.

    • LadyV May 2, 2015, 11:51 am

      Columbia, you have just given me another reason to dislike the mothers. They were at a DIFFERENT MOVIE than the two nine year olds? So basically, they expected people at the other movie – who probably were there with their own children – to supervise their kids? Based on their behavior in the lobby, I shudder to think how they behaved when they were unsupervised in a dark theater.

    • Crissy May 5, 2015, 2:06 pm

      OP – Go back to the theater. I’ll go with you. Dressed as Magenta. It’s bad enough we let 9 year olds make us feel bad when we were 9 years old, let’s show them what it’s like to grow up to be fabulous.

  • Jules103 April 30, 2015, 9:42 am

    No comment on the obvious etiquette breaches here, but I have to wonder at the general attitude that RHPS is inappropriate for a nine-year-old. The midnight show is likely inappropriate since it’s so late, but Rocky? Compared to your average sitcom these days, not that bad. I think the first time my (now grown) daughter saw it, at home on VHS, she was about that age. Last I checked, she hasn’t killed anyone with an ax, deflowered any unwilling virgins, or learned to play the saxophone. I have noticed the occasional fishnets with costumes…. Great Scott, what have I done!

    • The Elf April 30, 2015, 1:26 pm

      For the right 9-year-old, RHPS would be fine when viewed with parents. But generally? I don’t think most kids are ready for underwater musical orgy scenes. (“Don’t dream it, be it”)

    • K April 30, 2015, 1:42 pm

      Yes, but your daughter was at HOME.

      I rather doubt you’d want her sitting in a theatre full of adults in fairly kinky fancy dress (men in just pants…I used to go in hotpants and a whip), yelling out s*xual innuendo at the heckling pauses. Screenings and the stage show of Rocky are absolutely NOT suitable for children.

    • Ergala April 30, 2015, 2:23 pm

      My kids wouldn’t be familiar with some of the lingo and at the age of 9 (like my oldest child is) I would NOT feel comfortable discussing the meaning of the words with him either. There is a time and a place and children are being exposed to this stuff earlier and earlier. I managed to make it to the age of 20 before I had ever even heard of RHPS. I guess my mom did a pretty good job. She wouldn’t let me watch Rugrats when I was 10 and 11 because she didn’t like Angelica’s behavior. She wasn’t over protective, she was and is my mother and was looking out for my emotional growth. My kids however…they have seen Jurassic Park and one of their favorite movies is Tremors. However if a movie has serious sexual overtones or undertones they are NOT watching it.

  • Lerah99 April 30, 2015, 10:35 am

    The girls were rude and out of line. Full stop.
    The mother was out of line trying to justify the girl’s behavior as “Kids being kids”.

    And it is very easy for all of us to Monday Morning Quarterback this thing with “What you should have said/done”

    Letter Writer, this was a hurtful experience for you. It pushed your buttons when it comes to self-consciousness and social anxiety. Your feelings are valid.

    However, I do hope you take the admin’s advice. Not as condemnation for your lack of action in this case but as a guideline for how to act in the future.

    Because there will always be rude people. There will always be those who point and stare.
    Those who are like chicks and will peck at any sort of difference until the different looking chick is dead.

    But you are not a defenseless chick. You get to decide what sort of power you will allow strangers to have in your life. You get to decide if you will allow a stranger saying ugly things to rob you of the things that make you happy.

    I’m a really fat lady. Which means when I encounter jerks, I know they are going to make some nasty comment about my weight. I’ve had teenage boys oink at me in a Wendy’s. I’ve been out walking down the street and had two dudes in a truck shout “Hey! Fat #@s!” at me. I’ve had a young lady in an Old Navy come over and say “Ma’am, we don’t carry your size. Maybe it would be best if you found a specialty shop to buy clothes” while I was picking out an outfit for my sister in law.

    And when things like that happen, I have a choice:
    – I can chose to shrink down in shame, hang my head, cry, and hide away in my house never to venture out into the cold, cruel world again.
    – I can chose to let those things roll off me like water off a duck. I can decide that I’m fortunate because I only have to deal with those jerks for brief moments in time. But they are stuck with themselves 24/7.

    I have chosen the second.
    Because I can’t cleanse the world of jerks, but I can choose how much power I’ll give them when it comes to my happiness.

    Those girls were wrong to treat you like that.
    But you’ll be a happier and healthier person if you make a conscious decision to ignore the haters.

    It’s not easy. And for a while you’ll have to “fake it until you make it”. But training yourself to stand tall, make eye contact, and choose to be happy is worth it.

    • kolobok April 30, 2015, 10:51 am

      You. Are. Awesome.

      If there was a possibility to “like” posts on here, I would want to “like” this 1000 times.

    • Enna April 30, 2015, 10:53 am

      My uncle used to be a large man. On his way to the pub he had to cross a bridge where some youths would hang out and they would yell things at him. The river is shallow and not that wide. One evening he said to the youths “who wants to be the first in the river?” my uncle did not see them for dust. Case in point: bullies are cowards.

    • bap April 30, 2015, 3:15 pm

      ^^^This X 1000!^^^

    • Carolyn April 30, 2015, 3:28 pm

      Lerah99, that was beautifully put! I couldn’t have said it better and I won’t try to! Thank you for saying this – it’s a message that everyone needs to hear!!!

    • Stephbwfern April 30, 2015, 3:45 pm

      ^^i like you!

    • KimB May 1, 2015, 9:15 am


    • Emmy May 3, 2015, 3:54 pm

      Thank you for this post. It expresses it perfectly. I felt it was wrong to criticize the OP for feeling the way she did, after all, you just can’t turn on and off emotions like a faucet. I also disagree that dressing differently than mainstream, especially in a setting like the theater showing where it would be considered appropriate – is asking for negative attention. While it is true you can expect a few stares and surprised looks, that doesn’t mean it is OK for others to make rude comments. I do agree that one who has an unconventional appearance would be wise in learning how to handle rude people. Lerah’s advice to choose not to let some jerks affect how you will live your life and ‘fake it til you make it’ is very practical, especially since she has experienced similar rudeness and has successfully taken her own advice.

      I also find it ironic that the girls’ mothers were basically criticizing the OP’s mother (the ‘if her momma lets her dress like that’ statement) while those mothers were letting their girls act the way they do. They need to reassess their own parenting skills before uttering a word about another parent.

  • Enna April 30, 2015, 10:56 am

    Those girls are rude, they know that they were being mean. If they had said something ignorant like “why is that woman dressed up funny?” then it would be a chance to inform them. Yes children do things and say things that are cruel, sometimes out of ignorance but that’s not the case. Had they been my children I would have made them apologise and delete the photos. They may have done as they were “just kids” but they would sure learn a lesson from me.

  • just4kicks April 30, 2015, 11:02 am

    It’s not only cosplay that can get a laugh from kids!
    My 7th grade son has to take a semester of “Home Ec” and had to a presentation on how folks dressed in any given time period.
    I looked over the choices and said “Like, ohmigawd! I can, like, TOTALLY help you with the bitchin’ 80’s!”
    I told him the stuff the preppies used to wear and the punks. Somewhere around neon everything and purposely putting a hole in your shirt and pants only to fasten the hole with a million safety pins, he looked at me and said, “next time we go to grandma’s, you HAVE to show me pictures of you!!!”

  • Mojo May 1, 2015, 5:15 am

    Hey OP, don’t let anyone ruin the dream. Be it.

  • Miss Calliope May 1, 2015, 12:40 pm

    I am a member of the local Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow cast, who perform at screenings like this. My character opens the show and is the only one who interacts with the audience prior to the screening, dressed in a tight laced corset, suspenders, fishnets and jewel-encrusted underwear. Even in my quite progressive and tolerant part of the world, I have received my fair share of cruel looks and judgment, and even being told I “should be ashamed of myself” by passers-by. And sadly I think this is what was meant by the rude children’s rude mother – not they’re only children so can’t be held responsible, rather these are children and your body is offensive to their delicate innocence. These children are rude because that’s what they’ve been taught to be, by judgmental, intolerant adults.

    As a performer who is regularly in public places in similar costume, I have developed somewhat of a sixth sense to detect when a camera is pointed at me. I too use glaring as a strategy if someone is trying to capture stealthy photos. The prolonged eye contact and raised eyebrow results in one of two reactions: either the stealth photographer apologises and asks if I’ll pose for a photo (which I always will, and allow a slight smile or wink); or they retreat and look guilty. Either way the problem is solved and I remain in control of the situation. These girls haven’t learned the social cues and were given the upper hand as the glare was likely an intimidated one rather than an intimidating one. And I know plenty of people with social anxiety who can hold their heads high, costumed in public. The only way to develop this self-assuredness is to keep practicing! You need to remember that those who judge are the miserable ones going on with their boring lives while you’re about to have bucket loads of fun, surrounded by like-minded folk. Please don’t give up on dressing up! This is an institution that has been upheld since the movie was released in the 70s and nobody should be able to shame you out of participating.

  • Callalilly May 2, 2015, 6:52 pm

    That post brought me back to one of my most humiliating moments from post-college.

    Some friends who had gone on to be grad students decided to have a party, with a tape of Rocky Horror Picture Show providing the entertainment. I was the only one who came in costume. As soon as that registered, I wanted to sink into the floor, never to be seen again.

  • Angel May 2, 2015, 10:23 pm

    I admire the OP for dressing up for the show! I went to a showing of RHPS when I was a teenager and had a little make up on, but didn’t quite have the courage for a costume. As for those little girls who laughed and tried to take your picture, they were jerks of course, but even 9-year-olds should know better than to do this! I have a 9-year-old myself and she knows better than this. I can imagine that if she was unsupervised with a group of friends–maybe that crowd mentality would take over, BUT, if I had actually witnessed it I would have apologized to you profusely and would have punished her when we got home. That behavior is bullying behavior and has no place anywhere!

    And not for nothing but, 9-year-olds have absolutely NO BUSINESS at a 10 pm movie on their own. Even if the parents are in the next theatre over. WTH is wrong with those parents? JMO.

  • Amy Duran May 3, 2015, 10:17 am

    Most kids are great with cosplay, I have several costumes I wear to various conventions. My favorite memory is of me in my Wonder Woman outfit at Dragon Con, and hearing a small shriek, “Wonnnnddderrr Woommmaan!!” and getting tackled in a hug by a 5 year old girl. The mother was mortified and hurried over to apologize for the tackle, and we took several pictures together. For every nasty comment or reaction you get, remember the good ones. Yes the kids were rude, but don’t let that diminish the fun you have being you.

  • Cheryl May 6, 2015, 11:05 am

    At this day and age, parents are to understanding. The adults were in the wrong for not saying something to the kids about how some come dressed up as characters for specific movies and that they should apologize and erase the photos, which is the right thing to do. Personally I would have approached the adults and asked them to have the pictures deleted. I would have also informed the girls that you were dressed as a character for the Rocky Horror movie and to not judge because they shouldn’t throw stones in glass houses. As for the adults explanation, then I would have said, if they were taught better and had manners of any kind then this situation wouldn’t have occurred. Have fun and realize that those who are ignorant and don’t want to ask questions are so small brained that overall they do not matter and neither do the kids. Being a child is no excuse for bad behavior.