Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Did you know there's another fairy besides Tinkerbell?

I didn't.

Another mom at a todder's birthday party I went to this past weekend informed me.

I was clearly the odd man out. A couple of other moms were discussing Disney princesses, a topic I can at least keep up with, growing up with Snow White & Cinderella myself (ha!). They were all discussing how their houses were drenched in pink and oh-my-goodness-does-anything-not-have-a-princess-on-it? (yes)

And then a third mom introduced the topic of fairies.

Apparently there are several. Maybe... six? I don't know. I'm still reeling from the announcement that there's more than just Tinkerbell. And they have names. And Fairy clothing lines all their own.


I also cannot name all of the Disney princesses. I'm guessing I might be able to get half of them correct, and those would be the old-school half.

I knew the story "The Little Mermaid" first from the book of fairy tales I had as a child, and then from Disney.

That's true of a lot of the stories I know.

I cringed when FireGirl opened a set of Disney Princess PJs at her 3rd birthday party. Cringed. Hoped they came with a gift receipt.

It's not that I have a problem with Disney (actually quite a fan), or that I have a problem with a girl wanting to be a princess (I personally want to be called "duchess", but whatever).

What I do have a problem with is the culture I see around me, as the mother of a little girl, where this influence of loving all things pink & shiny and forcing princesses (especially Disney princesses) down our daughter's throat is somehow not only acceptable, it is apparently the only satisfactory way to raise a little lady.

I walk thru the stores and see girl after little girl, virtual clones of one another, wearing the same characters, sporting the same clothes, the same shoes, and yes... acting the same way. The same I'm-a-dainty-little-spoiled-little-princess way.

And I don't like it.

If that's the way my child turns out to be, on her own, the fine. But it just seems like over the past 10 years or so this princess culture has invaded and infested our baby girls.

And I don't like it.

In a side note to commercialism, and in a surprise to even myself, when I was pregnant I made the decision that I didn't want my child wearing any character brand (ie. Elmo, Dora, Disney, etc) clothing. Quite a change from the woman who a few years before had declared that when she had a child she would have an Eeyore-themed nursery.

But when the time came... when I was pregnant... when it was my child... the idea of paying for a company to advertise on my child (which is really what you're doing)... made me cringe.

I'm racking my brain now to think if FireGirl yet has any character brand clothing items in her wardrobe. I don't think so. Although now that she's older I do let her have a little say, so there might be an item or two. Maybe.

random timing maybe, but I want to take a minute to say that what I'm writing about is what I feel is the best way to handle the situation for my family. I make no judgement to those that have no problem with their girls wearing princess outfits, etc. and actually do understand where they are coming from as well. This is simply me explaining why I do what I do, and my reasoning behind it.

My child does like girly things. But instead of conforming to society's vision of femininity as being a princess, FireGirl was entranced by ballerinas at a young age.

So she has ballerina skirts, and watches Angelina Ballerina, and PBS shows about ballet, and now her interest has spread to other forms of dance and even cheerleading.

I embrace her love of dance because she loves it. She discovered it all on her own, and loved it all on her own. She doesn't love it to please momma, or because her friends do, or because we forced her to take a dance class, or because society told her it was cool.

Same with nail polish.

And the color purple.

My child has liked the color purple since she was old enough to focus her eyes. I don't remember exactly how young, but it was clear at an early age that her gaze lingered on all things purple. And when she could point, she'd point out purple items. And her first two-syllable word was... purple.

It's not that I don't want her to be "girly", it's that I want her to be her own girly.

Lately she's been telling me that her favorite colors are now purple and pink.

And I'm upset.

Not because it's pink. But because I have a sneaking suspicion that she's been influenced by the girls in her class. Whose parents dress them in much more pink & girly clothing than my daughter wears. They come to school with curled hair & pierced ears and I swear I've seen lip gloss on at least one of them.

And now, suddenly, FireGirl likes pink.

I'm suspicious.

But I suppose it's all part of her journey. Of figuring out what she really likes and what she only likes because other people like it or because she thinks she should like it. And if she insists that she likes pink, I won't deny her pink.

crap, now I feel like I'm rambling

I guess my point is... I don't like anyone trying to push my daughter into a pigeonhole of who she should be, just because she's a girl.

Or any other reason, for that matter.

I mean, I don't like people doing it to me, I sure as heck won't stand for people doing it to my daughter.

And so... one way we combat this... no, we don't have Disney Princess items in our home. She will get exposed to that in a bevy of other locations. She does not need to be inundated with it at home as well.

Her Barbie four-wheeler? I instructed FireMan to not put the Barbie stickers on it.

Not sure what I'm gonna do about those Disney Princess pajamas.

I like that my daughter is very well-rounded in what it means to be a girl. Meaning that her choice of a Halloween costume has gone from a purple ballerina, to a black spider, to a firefighter in yellow bunker gear (she's very specific, can't you tell).

And in case you think she's simply mimicking Daddy... Daddy wears black bunker gear, thank you very much. Her costume must be yellow bunker gear. I don't know why, other than that's what she wants.

I love that she sees all of them as perfectly acceptable for a little girl.

I love that one day she will ask to wear her purple & pink skirt to school, and the next day she will ask me why the firefighter on her shirt is a boy & not a girl.

I love that in a very typically girly way she loves all things horses, but in a very untypical way she also loves snakes.

I loved the day that she asked me to get her pink training pants with Diego on them. And I love her confusion as I try to explain that Diego only comes on blue training pants and pink training pants only come with Dora on them, and my confusion as I try to explain to her why.

I love that she very daintily hates getting dirty (although she is unfortunately getting over that), but God forbid Daddy try to take the four-wheeler out without her on it.

You wanna see a real princess? Come see my daughter. In her jeans & Tshirt. Hair tangled. Dancing in our driveway.
Talk to her. Listen to her "please" and "thank you". Her "yes ma'am" and "no ma'am".
Watch her open the door for you. Help you carry something. Watch her offer her hand to her Papaw to "help" him up the stairs.

World, listen up... that is a princess. It has nothing to do with pink frilly things, nothing to do with over-commercialized painted faces. Real princesses know how to act like a lady... no matter what they're doing or what they're wearing.

My kid... she's a real princess.

Just don't call her that. Because she'll scream "No I'm not!".
And I swear she didn't get that from me. But it still makes me smile.

As always, thanks for checking in!


This post inspired by another blog post...
Purple Toenails and Princesses by JenM 

1 comment:

'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

It is always amazing to me to see someone with the completely opposite side of something.
I grew up wearing garage sale clothes that were judged on how well they would hold up, so they were usually boys clothes.
Finally found my own girly self in the last 6-7 years and was actually sad at all the time I missed being girly. Still get surprised by things I find I like that I didn't even know existed.
Your girl will find what she is regardless, but it's nice to see that you foster an environment that helps her do this.

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