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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

raising girls with power

So.

Here is the thing when you have a baby girl.

Everything turns pink.

EVERYTHING.

Even if you don't mean it. Even if you hated the color pink as a child. Even if you swore up and down you despised Disney princess light-up sparkle sandals and the like.

You will get them.

And you won't mind.

At first.

It happens kind of in a whirlwind. The baby showers. The blankets. The onsies. The stuffed pink bunnies.

And its not just the pink, mind you. Its the whole "Being An American Girl" requirements. Barbies. My Little Ponies. Pink fluffy tutu skirts. Painted toenails at 6 months old.

And then.

THEM.

You know who I mean.

BELLE. RAPUNZEL. AURORA. And their queen bee. CINDERELLA. The Disney princesses who seem to grace everything from toothbrushes to swimsuits to sparkling light-up sandals to plates to backpacks to sleeping bags. EVERYTHING. They are EVERYWHERE. And even if you try. YOU CANNOT ESCAPE THEIR POWER.

And I caved. Now, little man first came to love the movie Cinderella when he was three or so. And Tangled and such, yes, he likes those too. So, yes, they are not just "for girls," but OH MY. The merchandising on those movies. As I said. It is being an American girl. A requirement. You MUST own pink Disney princess pajamas!

And.

And I cave to it.

Because here is the thing.

There is nothing wrong with little girls loving pink. And rainbows. And barrettes with flowers on them. And yes, even Disney princess pillow cases. (FINE. ha.)

Nothing.

What gets me is we seem to have this thing. This compartmentalizing. Take a kid to McDonalds for a Happy Meal and you will see what I mean. This is for YOU, little girl. This pink pony who sparkles. This is for YOU, little boy. This mini-skateboard with a skull on it.

THAT is what I don't want to do.

I want my girls to have the power of choice. Over their playthings for now, and their life choices later. (Friends! Love! College! Career!)

I DONT want dictated to them "THIS" is for you. "THIS" is for brother.

Why do we do that?

Its extraordinary really. Extraordinarily silly. And its impact can last a lifetime.

And we do it. I DO IT.

When little man hit four and five and his obsessions with dinosaurs and trucks fizzled to an end, well, I packed them away. And the shelves quickly filled up with My Little Ponies and dress up princess gowns, and yes, lovely handmade mermaid dolls by yours truly. (Caveat: I made dolls for little man when he was small too!) And sure. We have encouraged little miss to love Legos like her brother. And we smile as baby Green dresses up in little man's old train engineer uniform.

But I realized the other day, maybe I have been limiting their choices, or maybe, not being proactive about guarding them. One day, I was doing the mom thing that we all do of bribing children to get through a Target purchasing trip by promising them a perusal of the toy aisles after (No, WE ARE NOT PURCHASING ANYTHING!)

And so, I led little man to the Lego aisle and by standing at the edge, watched him as the girls were next door in the bright pink DISNEY PRINCESS aisle.

And they browsed and oohed and ahhed.

Finally, I am pulling them away and baby Green walks by the "boy toy" aisle. "OOOH mama!" she says "A police car!!"

And she pushes the buttons and the sirens go off and she is so delighted with it.

And I feel this horrible sense welling up that I have failed somehow, fighting against this cultural inundation that our girls receive from us as a society. This "you must be pretty!" as little girls later becomes "you must be sexy!" as teenagers and then "you must be thin and pretty and sexy AND successful!" as adults.

I want more for them. More than "you must be pretty."

I want.

You must think.

You must do the right thing.

You must strive for the just.

You must be kind.

You must be truthful.

You must help society.

You must find a life task that is fulfilling and do that.

You must love and be loved.

You must be brave.

You must have adventures.

You must create beauty around you and embrace the beauty in you.

All of these things.

Of course, all of these things, I want them for my son too. I want these things for all children.

But, especially, these girls of mine, as I fight against the "You must be pretty Disney princesses" society we seem to have created for our girls.

You are more than fluffy pink skirts. More than Tinkerbell and bows and ribbons. Being female is beautiful, magical, and oh so much more than what the Disney Princess aisle has to offer.

You, my dear sweet girls, are you. And if YOU love princess play, then I do too, but if you love police cars and Tonka trucks and playmobile soldiers, then dude, I will climb up into the nasty corners of the garage all sweaty as a box nearly lands on my head and pull out those bad boys and they will reside in the living room alongside your princesses.

Because YOU are all that. All of that inside your wiry little body. All princess-y and Tonka truck-y.

And so of course, I did just that.




















no mom. I cant smile. I am a warrior queen!
....THATS my girl...


6 comments:

  1. Brava, mama. I am navigating these gendered waters myself. No easy task.
    And the last picture is absolutely priceless.

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  2. P.S. Where did you get the wooden swords? And sheath?

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. ha. wrong sarah. I thought you were a local sarah! or maybe you are...in any case, I got them from a waldorf-y shop in our city but I am sure there are multiple etsy shops that sell similar things. :) we love them!

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  5. There are lots of Sara/hs out there. We are ubiquitous.

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  6. sarahs unite! we could take over EVERYTHING! ha.

    ReplyDelete

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