Stella Ehrhart: Cool Girl Dresses as Historical Women (and more)

Stella as Grace Kelly

Many thanks to Kathleen for sending this story my way. #badasskids #futureLeslieKnope

8 year-old Stella Ehrhart has taken to dressing as a different historical person for school each day. Many of her costumes, which she creates herself out of her closet and repurposed household items, are inspired by her copy of 100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century. She’s appeared as Billie Holiday, Grace Kelly, Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Elvis Costello, and so on.

Stella’s creativity is encouraged by her teachers, I think especially since her costumes are mostly low-profile and inspire conversations among students:  “So they try to support her desire for self-expression. Teachers, in fact, embrace it and have used Stella’s outfits du jour as teachable moments.’We’d have to get on the computer and figure out who she was,’ said her second-grade teacher, Shannon Roeder” (Omaha).

Stella as Billie Holiday

Though the continued project can sometimes be a strain, her parents continue to support her:  “Neither parent supplies the costumes or the ideas. They just roll with what Stella wants to do and support her, grateful that she’s emulating stories and strength, not beauty.” (Omaha)

This is kind of old news by now, but with Halloween coming up quickly, why not encourage girls to dress as role models rather than sexy kitties, pop stars, or princesses? Well, aside from Grace or Diana.

Finally, Stella’s story really reminds me of the National Women’s History Museum’s PSA “Don’t Tell Me I Can’t” (below). Though at first I had questions about the use of little girls in the PSA, as it seemed like an easy ploy on the emotions, I think that it highlights the importance of handing these stories down in a meaningful way. What’s really awesome about Stella’s costumes is that she’s bringing these people to life in a fun way for her peers. Telling women’s history isn’t just important for girls and women, it’s important for boys  and men as well. Go girl!

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