This morning as I was getting my three year old ready for day care, she looked at her wardrobe and said, “Mummy, I want to be a princess today”. This phrase translates to, “I want to wear a twirly skirt”. I replied, “It doesn’t matter what you wear, you’ll always be a princess”. Not the best reply, but I wanted her to know that she doesn’t need to wear a skirt, or pink, or a tiara, or sparkle shoes to be a girl. That she could wear a garbage bag and would still be funny, intelligent and yes, pretty.
I grew up decidedly a ‘tom boy’. In the 70s this meant that I was more interested in climbing trees and playing with cars in my sand pit, rather than playing with dolls. Though I think it just showed that I loved playing outside. I used to cry when my mother tried to get me to wear a dress, while my daughter cries when I try and get her to wear trousers! My daughter is a very feminine girl and I have no idea where this has come from, as she hasn’t been mirroring me.
In the beginning, I fought against the whole pink obsession, but I’ve realised I can’t fight against who she wants to be. Whether it’s her inherent desire to fit in with her peers, or it has been imprinted upon her from the pinkified shopping aisles for girls toys and girls clothing, I can only guide her, not enforce my ideals on her. And even though I worry about her need to please and to ‘fit in’, I will always remind her that she is unique and an individual and that being different is a good thing!
So this ‘tom boy’ now paints her toe nails pink with her daughter and wears twirly skirts. I can still teach my daughter to be a strong intelligent human being regardless of her gender. She can still be a confident leader while wearing lipstick and high heels as an adult. On a pleasing note, she does like digging in the veggie patch and playing outside, so I must be rubbing off on her in some way. Even though I constantly worry about raising girls, with the over sexualisation of young girls; the objectification of women and the enduring pressures that she will face during her life time; I can only hope that I raise her to believe in herself, to back herself and to put herself forward.