Raising a tough girl

I was talking to a friend recently who also has a daughter, and we were lamenting the clothing options available for little girls — and boys, for that matter.  We live in a strange society, one in which women are making gains in education and leadership and yet clothing stores increasingly sell clothing made for princesses.

When I was growing up (Yes, I’ve gotten so old that I’m now able to reference the good ol’ days.), much of my clothing was yellow or blue. I received a Care Bears nightgown that absolutely made my Christmas one year, but for the most part, the clothing that my brother and I wore was nearly interchangeable. Actually, we sometimes did end up wearing each other’s clothes when my mom got the laundry confused.

Nowadays, every shirt seems to be pink and have a crown on it. My daughter is not royalty. And she is far more likely to someday be an engineer or scientist or senator than a princess. Why is this what we’re teaching our daughters to aspire to?

I’m not against pink. I love wearing pink. I love getting pedicures and wearing high heels. I think womanhood is powerful, but I’m disturbed by this notion that womanhood means marrying a rich man and devoting your life to looking pretty. The women I admire most are bookish and out-spoken, and though I find them beautiful, they’re generally not tall and willowy and blonde.

It sometimes feels as though every television commercial and clothing store is working to thwart our efforts, but Greg and I are trying to raise a brainy, assertive girl. Heck, her name pretty much says it. So at our house, we’re talking books and dinosaurs and dolls. If you’ve got a daughter, I hope that you are, too.

One thought on “Raising a tough girl

  1. I find this very interesting. I taught college for three years all the way back in 1990-93. One of the things that struck me most about a not small number of my female students was that they longed to be wives and mothers — not that there is anything wrong with that. But they wanted it as their “career.” Many of them actually were upset at being in school and said they felt forced to become educated and find a job. It was such a topsy turvy view of how I grew up in the ’70s. Then everything seemed based on new freedoms for women and taking advantages of opportunities that had not existed just years before — law school, police work, science, elected office, etc. Not sure this says much about pink and princess clothes, but I wonder if there is some odd longing, by some, for the “good old” days when women knew their place (at home with the babies and in the kitchen) and men brought home the bacon and all was rosy and good and not scary like a world where unemployment is high and even well-educated people have to worry about keeping a job?

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