When photographer Jessi Kittrell posted this picture with her daughter, Bailey, to commemorate the first day of Kindergarten, she had no idea how many people would connect with her photo. People from all over the world shared it on social media, and the post found its way from local news stations to the Today Show. Many people who saw the now-famous picture found it hilarious–others, not so much. Kittrell found a large of number of responses quite painful.
“People were picking on my daughter’s outfit, and the comments about it really bugged me,” she explained. “I had to step away from the computer because it really hurt my feelings. I felt like I had to defend myself even though the whole thing was meant to be a joke.”
Kittrell, who has been running a successful photography business for several years, staged the photo to make light of her daughter’s transition to school. Like many moms, she found that sending her last baby to school for the first time was tough.
“All summer, when I took her to registration and Kindergarten camp, I had to duck my head to hide the fact that I was crying like an idiot,” revealed Kittrell, a stay-at-home mom to four children ages 21, 18, 9, and Bailey, 6. “I loved having her with me so much that I would have homeschooled her, but I knew this was best for her. I was trying to make light of it. I was really hurting.”
Friends egged her on to have some fun with her camera before the first day of school. Kittrell borrowed the robe, used her husband’s slippers, and got a cup from Starbucks. Even though the Patron bottle belonged to her, Kittrell swears she didn’t partake after her daughter got on the bus as some of her critics predicted she would.
At the end of Kindergarten, Kittrell used the same props and outfits to let us all know that “Felicia” had returned. In spite of the haters, Bailey, or “Bug” as Kittrell calls her, stayed true to her style all through the year. She likes loose pants with ruffled bottoms and her signature cowboy boots.
Kittrell is happy with her daughter’s sense of style. “I find it offensive that clothing offered for elementary school kids consists of `booty shorts,’ and items like those. Kids are just growing up way too fast.”
Some of the brands that Bailey likes are Little Miss Marmalade, Tutu and Lulu, Lolly Wolly Doodle, and items purchased on Zulily. Aside from the cowboy boots, Kittrell said that none of the clothes cost more than $20.
Bailey’s signature style will be a hallmark of this year’s back-to-school photograph. Kittrell will release the picture tomorrow.
“News Channel 3, Steve Harvey, and the Today Show have all requested it,” she explained. She did not give out any details about the props or set-up.
“I just hope it gets people talking and laughing,” Jessi Kittrell said.
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