I have wanted to write this post for awhile but I am finally getting around to it thanks to Clueless But Hopeful Mama's post (Do you read her? You really must. She is wonderful. Thoughtful. Insightful. Funny.)
I have a confession to make.
My daughter is a girly-girl. She likes Barbies. She loves tutus. Princesses are her favorite topic to talk about. She even loves Ariel, the dimwit who gave up her voice for a man and then left her family to be with that man (although she's never actually seen The Little Mermaid).
When I first found out we were having a girl, I panicked a bit. A girl is a big responsibility for a mom. I felt I had to be the best role model ever. She must be Strong. Independent. Never let a man control her. All princess shit must be banished. BANISHED. (Insert picture of me flexing my muscles with a bandanna on my head.)
And then I had a girl. I decided to let her choose her path. If she wanted pink and sparkly, she could have it. If she wanted trucks and tools, she could have it too. I did try to steer her away from Disney princesses and pushed Tinkerbell more. She's at least feisty and independent. She's not waiting for a man to save her or giving up her voice for a man she's never met (I'm looking at you, Ariel.)
That worked for awhile. And then someone gave her a sleeping bag with the Disney princesses. It was like a gateway drug. Before I knew it, we had princesses coming out of our ears.
So here we are. She loves everything I hoped she wouldn't. I ranted against Disney princesses in college. Those insipid twits just sat around waiting to be saved. How stupid. And how stupid was I to watch them as a child and believe in happily ever after. Pfft.
I know it could be a phase. I also know it could shape how she thinks of herself. But how much?
I keep looking at the book Cinderella Ate My Daughter and thinking I should read it. Part of me wants to but I think it will make me mad (and perhaps feel a little guilty.) I'm not sure dressing my daughter in pink now will lead her to become an oversexualized teen. (I know I am simplifying the concept.) But since CBH Mama says it is a must, I think I will.
So how do I let my daughter (who by the way loves to dig for worms, play in the dirt, act like she's fixing her Tinkerbell tricycle with tools, etc.) be who she wants to be without possibly damaging her future self esteem?
Who knows. It's not something I can answer in a blog post or maybe even in this lifetime. For now, we are careful about what books she reads and try to find ones where the girl is a strong figure. I avoid dolls that look like they belong on a street corner. We try offering alternatives to the princess shows just so she knows there is something else out there. She loves Super Why! on PBS and Curious George. (I do love PBS and the Disney channel because of the lack of commercials for every plastic toy under the sun - yes, I know Disney is basically one big commercial but I don't hear "I want that!" all of the time.) We keep things age appropriate - music, television, games, clothes, etc.
The scary thing is, now won't be the hardest part of dealing with this. I shudder (and the husband swallows his tongue) when thinking about our little angels as teens.
It's not perfect but I hope that I am a good, strong role model for her, not to mention the other women in her life. Together, we can teach her that a girl doesn't have to wait for her prince to come to live happily ever after but she can dress like a princess while digging for worms.