elle fanning rodarte sarah st. lifer 13 years old

The author, left, and Elle Fanning. Photos: courtesy photo | Getty Images

Dear Elle Fanning,

On your 13th birthday, I'd like to say thank you for dressing your age.

In the over-sexualized world of Hollywood, starlets your age normally steer clear of bows and princess cuts to avoid looking too sweet, but you wear them with bravado. I see your brave fashion sense and cannot help but reflect on my own early-teens self.

When I was 13 I began a special relationship with clothes. While my female peers would roam the halls in uniform looks, I insisted on sticking out. My answer to their tight jeans were my own shapeless, bright J.Crew chinos. And I didn't bat an eye when kids would point out my feet, clad in tie-dyed socks and Birkenstock sandals in lieu of the popular Adidas sneakers.

As you may know, 13 is the height of Bar/Bat Mitzvah season. Girls used these events to show the boys their newly-formed figures and to show the girls their newly-acquired Tiffany & Co. jewelry. For my Bat Mitzvah I was proud as punch to wear the Frédéric Fekkai headband my mother had gifted me. It had a floral pattern beneath a layer of sequins; I couldn't wait to wear the accessory with my pale green dress-suit ensemble (very Temple-appropriate, yet very unflattering.)

Elle, at 13, your sartorial eye is worlds more mature than my own at that age. You dress for your age and know which designers you can rely on. (Must be nice to have the sisters Mulleavy on speed dial!) Feminine silhouettes -- sometimes paired with Mary Jane heels, other times with tough Dr. Martens -- are your BFFs. And you know how reliable a BFF can be.

So thank you for being 13 and already having a unique sense of style. Most girls your age succumb to the pressure of fitting in, but not you. I hope you continue to stand out for your mature decisions. It's refreshing for a teenager in Hollywood to be recognized for who she is, rather than who she tries to be.