Today a colleague brought to my attention this story about a woman whose 3-year-old daughter declared it is more important to be beautiful than smart.
The author’s mommy guilt kicked in big time:
“I had gotten off track. At about 2.5, the princess light switched on in my daughter. It was bright. She would only wear dresses. Pink dresses. She would throw full-on tantrums if we tried to get her into pants. Her pajamas were traded in for nightgowns and she began staring longingly at our wedding photos telling me I was a princess in them.
I got tired of fighting it and pretty quickly surrendered to Disney, telling myself it was just a phase, she’ll grow out of it. We bought her a princess bed set and took her to see Cinderella. What harm could we really be doing to her? All little girls were into princesses and being pretty. It wasn’t that big of a deal, I told myself.”
My Facebook feed has shown me how polarizing princess culture can be. My parent friends are divided: “You’ll never catch my girls in a tiara!” vs. “What’s wrong with wanting to be girly? When did we decide femininity was a crime?” (The rest of us are still mainly posting photos of our cats and cocktails.)
Me? I don’t think wearing pink dresses is the gateway to a lifetime of subjugation. I say this as someone who, despite having worn very little pink at any point in her life and having received ample encouragement from her parents in the areas of schooling and the arts, still obsessed about her appearance for too many years — well into adulthood, in fact.
The problem, I think, is that not enough parents were like mine. My mom and dad freely praised my academic and musical achievements. They took pride in my towering fierceness on the soccer field. Other influences — some of my extended family, my peers, their parents, our teachers, the media — contributed to my overvaluation of beauty, though of course that wasn’t their intention.
I want to see my youngest niece grow up to be gutsy, bold and confident no matter what she has on. Her parents are doing the right things, but everyone else needs to catch up, too.
Yes, it takes a village to raise a gutsy broad.
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