Daughter of a friend turns 7. Proud mama posts pic, with apologetic self-flagellation about having “given in to princess dressing.”
Question: What do you think mothers in the ’50s and ’60s would have done if they’d had things like Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet?
- OMG! How is my poor little Agnes ever going to find a husband, going around in dungarees like that all the time?
- All this pressure on young girls to “express themselves” by dressing however they feel like is preposterous!
- This “women’s lib” is such a scourge. It’s not like when I was a girl!
I thought the whole idea behind raising girls (and boys, for that matter) was teaching them that it’s what’s inside that counts. Wasn’t there something about not judging a book by its cover? I understand that there’s still this pesky thing called “the outside world” populated by the ubiquitous “other people”, where external pressures and snap judgments are rampant. But isn’t the whole idea of parenting to instill that internal sense of Okay-ness that allows the child’s genuine self to shine through, however clothed?
I’m not talking about appropriateness. Certain venues call for certain modes of dress, which young children are not equipped to accurately judge. Party dresses aren’t worn to school, and jeans shouldn’t be worn to church. But if there are other times when kids are offered the choice of what to wear, the least we can do is respect those choices.
What’s the difference between telling a girl, “Oh no! Not a princess dress!” and “Oh no! That’s what boys wear!” Don’t both statements have the effect of devaluing the girl’s choice?
I have another friend whose daughter used to put together the funkiest outfits for school. The kid was a hippie whose mother had worn Catholic school uniforms. Teh horror! Bottom line: so what? Advice was given (and taken) to choose one’s battles, and the kid ended up a lawyer.
I understand that “society” (the collective version of “other people”) is doing terrible things to girls (and women): hypersexualizing them, objectifying their bodies, devaluing them as thinking, feeling, inherently worthwhile beings with a right to, well, themselves. I agree that it’s a fight that needs to be fought.
But it’s still okay for a seven-year-old to dress up like a princess from time to time.