Be yourself. For a five year old to not conform to the expectation of wearing a princess costume reminds us all that we have be true to ourselves. We may dress similar to others but if this leaves feeling unfamiliar with ourselves, who are we really serving? What's even cooler is that the dance teachers and other students involved supported Ainsley's decision and no doubt learnt a lot about her and themselves in the process as well. How many adults could pull this hot dogging off? Not many I'd bet!
Lesson No. 2
Ainsley's parents didn't inhibit or try to change to her mind. In the classroom setting, I have experienced often students' subject choices or schools being unnecessarily being determined by the parents only for conflict and academic withdrawal being the only significant outcome. To allow a five year old to wear what she chose ensures that she can explore and be imaginative with pressure or the need for conformity.
3. Leadership is often best revealed through action over word. Even though 5 year Ainsley didn't set out the world to change the world and hasn't, what she has done is highlight that leadership is often about doing right by oneself and in doing so, empowering others to do likewise. When we look at the above picture, it also reminds us that leadership through action is most often revealed through one standing out from the crowd whether intentional or otherwise.
4. Be wary of stereotypes. Ainsley's case reminds us all just how dangerous perceptions about what is and should can be. Most of us if asked to describe what a princess looks like would almost certainly describe something similar to the traditional appearance. How many of us honestly would imagine a bread roll, some mustard and a frankfurter? We need to see things and people for what they are and not how we think they are or should.
5. Let it go. Okay I know the use of "Let It Go" is a big steal from the massively popular princess movie Frozen but it still does have merit here as a lesson. So many people couldn't have stepped in and pointed out to Ainsley and her parents that she was not following the guidelines set down for the day. Thankfully as far as we know, no-one did and this is something to be so grateful for. We need to let the Ainsleys of the world do their own thing, make their imaginings reality and keep our uncomfortableness and opinions to ourselves, particularly when such voicings could do harm. In the greater scheme of things, the hot dog princess isn't hurting anyone, just being a kid. There is a lot of adults and teachers I know who would have found being in that dance studio rather challenging.
Good on you young Ainsley, you keep thinking, keep doing what you want and wearing what you want. We're all already looking forward to what you're going to wear next time!