I am a self confessed girly girl. Before I was pregnant however, I imagined that I would raise my children to be somewhat gender neutral. I was raised in a feminist family, by a mum who was a single parent and taught me the value of equality and empowerment of women. Since Harper was born 6 months ago though I seem to have filled her bedroom with more and more pink, and I have become somewhat partial to sticking a headband with a bow on it on her head. I love frills, dresses, sparkles, floral prints – the more ballerina-esque the better.
I recently read an article criticising this feminisation of little girls, saying raising “girly girls” feeds gender stereotypes and plays into a patriarchal society that woman need to be “pretty” and “feminine” in order to be attractive and ultimately, successful. This article really frustrated me. As previously stated, I am a total girly girl. My favourite colour is pink. I favour skirts and dresses over trousers. I love doing my hair and makeup. I like watching rom-com movies and TV shows like Desperate Housewives. I favour prosecco over a pint. And I’m a sucker for a Nicholas Sparks tear jerker. On the flip side, I played rugby during my school years. I’ve pushed hard in my career and prior to the bear cub’s arrival I earned more than my husband. I speak my mind and think women are capable of doing anything a man can – despite my femininity I still class myself as a feminist and promote gender equality.
Many of my friends have spoken to me about not being taken seriously at some point in their lives, and this seems to be regardless of their style choices. Some of my friends wear heels on a daily basis, some favour trainers, some live in their leggings, whilst others look they’ve come along straight from a Cotswold pheasant shoot. In truth, whilst women have come a long way in terms of equality there is still much movement to be made and what we choose to wear shouldn’t define us and our capabilities. I believe that whatever we choose to wear, and how stereotypically we embrace “femininity”, it is irrelevant.
If someday Harper declines a pink dress or a pretty headband, then so be it. I will encourage her to play with cars if she chooses, climb trees, join a football or rugby team and she can do each of these things in whatever clothing she chooses. And perhaps someday the terms “girly girl” and “tomboy” will be irrelevant, what a wonderful thought that is. Until that day, hang in there mamas – you are doing great, however your children dress.