Thursday, September 26, 2013

What has happened to childhood?

I'm the first to admit that when I was a kid, I was a girly-girl. I lived in dresses, always had to be the girl/mommy when we played house, and I absolutely LOVED my Barbies and My Little Ponies. You know, like these ones (also, I love, without that site I never would have been able to figure out all the names of my old ponies that my kids now have).

Even though I was such a girly girl, I still got to let out my tough side. I was a caveman (yep, caveman) for Halloween once. My sister was my pet monster. We were fierce and awesome and had our own radio show. I was Rose, and she was Frank (I have no idea why she chose Frank). We used to interview characters from Sesame Street, Tiger Sharks, and, occasionally, our little brother.

We were normal kids. We did insane things like wear 3 pairs of socks so we could "scrunch" them. We wore tee shirts that were way too big so we could tie them on one side without making them too small. We wore leggings. And I used to have a dress that was white with day-glo puffy paint fish on it. I loved that dress. 

I remember my first bikini. I was 13 (I think) and I wore it so happily. I sunbathed in it, and on our trip to Florida I wore it on the beach. It was basically a sports bra and it was covered in giant roses. My favorite one (at about age 16?) was a (still conservative) halter top that was bright blue and green. My brother once (accidentally) let a lizard jump down it while I was sunbathing. I did have one that was dark blue, and actually more string-like, which I had when I was 14, but I only wore it to the beach for that one trip because I wasn't comfortable with how much it didn't cover my boobs. Have I mentioned that I was a D cup before I had kids?

I think I got my first pair of grown-up shoes (heels) at about age 12 or 13, and I loved them. I loved the sound they made when I walked. I loved that I was suddenly a little taller than 5'2".

Now I have a daughter. She's getting to have opinions on things. She, at not-quite-2 1/2, absolutely LOVES My Little Pony. She has my old ones (all 4 that I still had; Butterscotch, Sundance, Bangles, Yo-Yo) as well as one inherited from her cousins (who also inherited it, somehow) named Wisteria. She has a whole bunch of non-MLP ponies that she loves, and she has one new MLP. Rainbow Dash, the one with sparkles in her hair. Because the other one comes with a purse, and not a trophy. WHY?! Rainbow Dash is not all about accessories!

Anyway. Dee's opinions also extend to clothing. Her favorite outfits are dresses, especially with either her light up shoes or her pink cowboy boots. She will also wear jeans and stuff, but she prefers dresses and skirts. Or nightgowns (which we've explained she doesn't get to wear when we leave the house). She loves necklaces and bracelets, and getting all dressed up with her baby dolls so she can climb into her spaceship (highchair) and go shopping for hats in space. She nurses her babies. If she sees her T-Rex costume from last year (still fits) she will BEG to wear it, because she wants to be a fierce dinosaur. Her favorite bath towel is a triceratops hooded towel (which is truly awesome). She and her brother play Lego (or Duplos) together. Sometimes she declares that she's a princess and cooks us food, but it's usually only a ruse so she can eat our faces. 

This ferocious, brave, sweet, sassy child is growing into a world where someone sells these boots for toddlers. I would wear them, but I would never let my young child wear them.


Girls are told (maybe not out loud but sure as hell by the toy section) that they are only good for being cute and sexy and sweet. You have to work to find a toy that isn't super-gendered if your daughter wants a Lego set. Duplos are pretty good, but what about when your daughter is older? Does she have to play with Lego Friends, where the figurines look like bizarre alien versions of regular Lego figurines, and they sit in hot tubs or on yachts? Why can't Wonder Woman or Batgirl or Storm or Hermione be part of the "girl" toy section? Or available with their OWN sets? Why can they only be found with the huge sets, while you can find Superman with his own smaller Lego set? And forget about race cars (like Hotwheels) that could be marketed to girls...

Why do Monster High and Bratz and Equestria Girls have to be what our daughters look at? I know I never wanted to look like Barbie, but my Barbie had clothes that actually covered her body rather than barely-thigh length skirts and knee-high stockings.
Why do these dolls have to be so skeletally thin? I know that most girls don't say "Oh, I want to be thin like my dolls" but they don't even look healthy... And WTF is up with their short little arms?! All I know is that I will NOT be buying Dee any of these dolls. If she gets one for a gift it will be going back to the store.

My daughter will not fall prey to the idea that she's only a pretty face, or only gets to do science that creates makeup just because she's a girl. She will be climbing rocks and mountains and exploring space and digging up dinosaurs and being her own person.  I will not buy her the clothing or shoes that scream "grow up and have sex already!" or "Look at me, I like to shop and manipulate my daddy. Tee hee". I will remind her how amazing she is, and how strong and beautiful and wonderful her body is and I will do my best to make sure she knows that she is worth more than the marketing world wants her to think. She's better than that.

That's it for now... I have a rant brewing about boy stereotypes too. In the meantime, if you think you'd like to know more about what we *as parents* can do to help combat this insanity for our children's sake, please visit and And make sure your child knows how very, very amazing he or she is, no matter what they toy aisle tries to tell them.

ETA: A Mighty Girl also has a parenting books section, including books on how to deal with the sexualization of childhood.

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