I want my daughter to throw like a girl

I AM LIVID.

Within a span of 12 hours yesterday, my daughter Eliana (who just turned 3) asked for two things which she said she needed.  Boobies.  And to get her ears pierced.  “I want big boobies.  Elsa has boobies like this,” she said as she extended her cupped hands out in front of her.  “And she walks like this.”  (Eliana walked with her chest out and marched as Elsa did in that ridiculous “Let It Go” Frozen scene where she perturbingly transforms into a 30-year-old-looking empowered being (with assets).)  Later last night, she grabbed my wedding and engagement rings off the counter and put one of each on her ear lobes.  She said that Elsa has rings on her ears and she needs to too.

I thought I was resistant from all this madness since I grew up as a tomboy and never for a second would have insinuated princess or Barbie BS into her psyche.  I was a sociology major at Berkeley and have always been conscious of the role the media institutions play with our children’s (and women’s) psychology.  I am hyper-aware that media and toy corporations can be greedy and irresponsible.

I thought I was in the clear.  Just last month, Eliana was given the choice of signing up for “Tutu Tuesdays” or soccer — and she naturally chose soccer.  It’s not that I don’t want her to do dance or ballet (in fact, I do); but I was proud that that wasn’t the automatic chosen way for my daughter.  “I want to kick the ball HARD,” she insisted.

But, now this.

My mother in law is aware of the way I want to raise my girls – and she gifted me with an autographed copy of “Redefining Girly” by Melissa Atkins Wardy.  It’s an incredible read and I recommend it to all parents.

"Redefining Girly" by Melissa Atkins Wardy
“Redefining Girly” by Melissa Atkins Wardy

 

The words are enlightening and inspiring.  It offers a reminder that there IS an option to raise self-confident girls in today’s girl culture that male CEOs continue to try to define.  (She reminds us not to fall into the pink/blue color scheme scheme, don’t talk about being fat, have educational and responsible magazines displayed, rather than fashion magazines that hyper-sexualize women, etc.)   It is a wonderful book and I am so glad it was written.

The issue though is that these words are obvious to those who are already cognizant and proactive with this sort of thing.   Those who pick up this book are of an audience with the same ethical and responsible fabric already.  Preaching to the choir, you can say.

So, what do we do?  How do you redefine girly?  “Girly” shouldn’t be a bad thing.  It should connote good things, strong things, kickass empowered things.

I am so frustrated, I feel trapped.  My husband and I play soccer with her and read to her, teach her elementary martial arts moves, let her explore the parks and the beaches and nature.  We jam on the drums and the piano and play with legos.  We don’t keep her away from all media — but we also don’t let the television and iPads babysit her either.   She is now in preschool  – so by the mere osmotic processes of socialization, moral/ethical/psychological shapings happen.

To our girls, Frozen and Elsa are ubiquitous — and Sotomayor is still an unknown.

So how do we convince our girls that they too can be President  when “girly” still looks like a hooker in heels Elsa?

I don’t have the answer.  I’m asking you.

 

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3 Comments

  • A good high school friend of mind just emailed a great question.

    Anonymous:
    How is thinking about taking care of your skin different from wanting to put on earrings and wanting to feel pretty? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being girly in that way, so long as it’s a balanced, and it’s not the only thing you work towards. And I think it’s just natural. Girls often like jewelry and makeup and nail polish, and boys like swords and guns.

    Here is how I answered:
    I think skincare is self care…it’s preservation, not alteration.

    I don’t mind earrings and I will [probably] pierce her ears when she’s older..but I mind her being obsessed w/it now when she just turned 3…and the fact that she wants big boobs is an issue. Elsa is very suggestive and sexual in her walk..and Disney knows their target audience….so Eliana went from wanting to read and play ball and legos…to wanting to have big boobs. I don’t like that the media is telling her how to look, what she needs. I don’t think jewelry and makeup and nail polish is bad…I do tattoos on her and stuff. I don’t even mind princess stuff. I mind her asking for big boobs and telling me she wants big boobs [out here] like Elsa… and Disney telling the little girls what a positive physical transformation looks like.

  • As a parent, it’s fairly obvious you are guiding to raise an independent person who can and will shape their own thoughts – which from my viewpoint is very different from MANY other parents who force and constrict their viewpoints upon their youngins. Knowing you a smidgen, I am confident in this. I personally feel like we need to let them like whatever they want. I try to think back to my childhood where I was sort of raised without many constraints and shaped my own vision and really to question everything. I think it’s hard for her to question it at this point – especially when you guys don’t overly expose them to many negative pieces of society and she will learn to shape that vision and then continue to elaborate it and evolve with the whole of the information throughout her life. While she likes Elsa now, who knows what the future holds? I mean, aren’t you embarrassed of pieces of your past? She’ll live and learn like the rest of us. I just hope to someone’s god you don’t give her a boob job for her sweet sixteen.

  • Very true, TEE LA ROCK. Thanks for your comment. It’s hard to relinquish control when all you want is to ensure they’re guided in the right direction. There are so many outside factors aside from the corporate monsters that you become really aware of when you become a parent. Looks like you’re already an incredible one!

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