Last year my then 2-year-old decided to be an electrician for Halloween (like her daddy). I was over-the-moon about this! Working in the field of women’s rights, I know that girls are often steered away from non-traditional jobs/fields even though they are more likely to provide higher wages and better economic stability. So when my girl picked electrician as her choice of costume I got on board immediately. I ordered her a tool belt and construction hat and she even wore some safety glasses. She loved it and I beamed with pride thinking of my little girl bucking gender stereotypes at such a young age.
Fast forward to this year and… she’s all about the princesses. I know this is very typical for little girls but part of me cringes at the princess play. My parents even know to not buy her princess toys because I’m just not a fan. I feel like the intense focus on princesses teaches our kids to value looks and being “pretty” above all other important characteristics. I’m trying to teach my daughter that the most important thing is to be KIND, not pretty. So I guess the princess thing just strikes a nerve.
But I’m also not going to tell her she can’t do something so this year my girl will be Belle from Beauty & the Beast (she’s never seen the movie, thanks goodness because helloooooo bad messages!). Here she is at a recent Halloween party:
I think that everything we experience can be a teach us something about ourselves and in this case I’ve learned that sometimes I need to keep myself in check. I’ve always said that to me, feminism isn’t about what choice you make but rather having a choice. And if I truly believe that then I need to apply that definition of feminism in my parenting and be supportive of my daughter’s choices, princess costumes and all.
My strategy as of late has been to reinforce the other good qualities of Belle – that she loves to read and is very nice to others, so that my daughter doesn’t think princess play is all about just looking pretty. So while she’s free to make her own choices, I can still be here passing along the messages that I feel are important too.