There are certain questions that enter my mind these days that I didn’t necessarily think too much about until I became a mother. More specifically, until I had a daughter. One of those questions is how to teach my daughter femininity without the objectification of her sexuality. I feel these days there are two sides of the spectrum when it comes to parenting little girls: Androgyny and what I will just refer to as The Pink Side.
Most of us fall somewhere in between the two, but it is quite easy to slip the scale in one direction or the other. I know I tend to weigh more closely on the pink side of the spectrum (what can I say, it’s my favorite color). However, I’ve begun to question if a household of pink baby gear might have a long-lasting effect on my daughter’s development of her feminine identity.
I know it might sound a little melodramatic, but I fear limiting her scope of what it means to be a girl by suggesting that there needs to be a division of pink = girls, blue = boys in the first place.
Furthermore, I feel there is a fine line between fostering femininity and playing into society’s expectations of what it means to be a little girl. It was simple for me growing up, I was a tomboy in a neighborhood full of boys and I didn’t develop any interest in “typical girly-girl things” until later on in life.
There was a point in my childhood in which I was obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In fact there was a pair of sneakers I wanted so bad because it had them on it. So one day a family friend bought them for me and I was soooooo excited. My mother, however, was not. I cried when she took them back and even as a child I never forgot what she told me: “These shoes are for boys!”
I didn’t understand then but I do now. My mother wasn’t trying to be cruel — she just knew that there are social norms, strong social norms, about how girls and boys are supposed to act and the things they are supposed to wear.
Maybe things weren’t much different back then after all.
I guess what I’m getting at is that there seems to be so much pressure placed on little girls to adhere to this standard of loving makeup, playing with dolls and pretending to be their favorite Disney princess and I am starting to question if that direction doesn’t just lead towards materialism and vanity. Marketing teams have discovered that if they can sell families one item for their son, they know parents will buy it in pink for their daughters.
I don’t want to raise my daughter thinking that this is what it means to be a lady — that the prevailing pink culture is what defines femininity. I want her to know it’s okay to get muddy, that it’s alright to wear Mutant Ninja Turtle shoes if she wants because these things won’t make her any less a girl.