We celebrated L’s second birthday yesterday. L is the only female of her cousins here on Long Island, she’s the one girl among six boy cousins. Because of this, she is automatically gifted all the frilly, girly, pinky stuff* my sisters-in-law and mother-in-law can find. Which is understandable and all, but I still scrunch my nose up at it all.
I’m the same way with my boys. I am a believer of not pushing gender norms onto kids, and in addition to this ideal, I also don’t like the amount of commercialism we surround our kids with. The character tie-ins just make me sick. It’s everywhere. Try going to Target and buying a non-commercial character Halloween outfit. Or getting your kids a nice, plain backpack or folder for school without some flashy cartoon character on it. You have to dig and search for the non-branded items.
I did, possibly, too good of a job of steering my oldest away from the trends. Unlike most little boys, he could care less about superheroes. It’s not that I’ve actively avoided exposure to them, but I’ve never encouraged it. Now he is six-years-old and refuses any character-branded clothing or items unless it’s Elsa from Frozen but that’s a totally separate topic. It is almost annoying just because when he is gifted said “boy” items he won’t use them.
Now, back to little L.
I guess I have only myself to blame. A few months ago she needed new socks, and Aldi was selling some Disney ones super cheap so I picked them up. She was drawn to the princess socks. Like, obsessed instantly. It made putting her socks and shoes on much easier, but I sensed this kid is gonna be a totally different beast when it comes to fighting the gender norms.
Which is fine. Even though I look at the plastic, gaudy princess gear she opened yesterday with distaste, I also know this is a losing battle. I can’t keep it away from her. The more I fight, the more she’ll desire it.
I’m torn because I know it doesn’t really matter for her future as a woman, but another part of me believes it does. I know that when I was 2,3,4 I would have LOVED princess dresses and crowns. Absolutely I would have. But there wasn’t nearly the amount of merchandise to buy back then. And it certainly wasn’t as readily available and cheap as it is now.
I was aware of the princesses and I loved them, but my exposure was mostly through movies and books. I had this large classic Snow White book and I would stare and stare at pretty Snow White and play pretend I was her but, at the risk of sounding like a major Grinch about it all, I used my imagination when I played Snow White but my daughter will never have to pretend to have a crown and a big fluffy dress. She’ll have an entire closet full of them.
Today she hasn’t taken a tutu off or her wings off. It’s cute. It is. Maybe I can adjust my scowl and spin it all in a positive way. She is expressing herself and so so happy playing dress up. I can always tell her Princess’s wear their gloves and eat all their vegetables and share with their brothers. I can let her “play princess” without actually calling her “princess” all the time. Little things like that. Who am I to turn all femi-nazi on a toddler’s natural attraction to all things frill and pink? Like I said above, resisting this will make her desire for it worst, so for now I’ll try and smile at the pink explosion that’s taken over our tiny little home.
*I would say crap but our friends and relatives spent a lot of time and money buying her these gifts and it isn’t crap, really.