Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Guest Post: My Daughter Will Redefine Girly

Being the dad of a daughter is going to be tough when Little Girl starts getting older. I know she will be bombarded by images and messages of what she should look like, dress like and act like. I make it my fight to make sure she knows that she is beautiful and powerful, just the way she is.

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Melissa. Melissa Wardy is a mother of two who owns and operates Pigtail Pals – Redefine Girly, an online store and media literacy blog that aims to change the way we look at girlhood. Our empowering products show girls they may be smart, daring, and adventurous. Melissa is hanging out with me today to talk a little bit about her own daughter, and redefining girly. So without further delay, here is Melissa in her own words!

When my daughter was born and I would spend the day holding her and dream about catching lightening bugs, teaching her to ride a bike and kick a soccer ball, reading “Little House On The Prairie”, and flying kites. A childhood fit for a Norman Rockwell piece for the Saturday Evening Post.

When my tiny girl was a few weeks old, I needed to restock on diapers so I ventured out to Target, running my first official errand as a mom. I came home mystified. My eyes were glazed over from pink pegboard and walls of plastic dolls that looked like sex workers and tulle and tiaras and slogans on every shirt that read “I love being the Princess” and “Daddy’s Princess” and “Sweet as Candy” and “Angel” and “Sassy, sometimes Sweet” and “Future Shopaholic”. The excess of tiaras and rhinestones had done me in. And why were girls being objectified into sweet candy? Gross.

This was girlhood? This was how I was supposed to raise my daughter? With these kinds of messages? And why was everything pink? I couldn’t understand it, and thought perhaps my post pregnancy hormones had made me time travel. You know, to 1950.

A few months later I was at a playgroup with my daughter and one of the mothers asked when I would introduce her to the Disney Princesses and Barbie. I suggested that maybe I wouldn’t, or at least I was in no rush to, because I didn’t think they were good role models for girls. The other mothers stared or laughed at me, as if I was from outer space. I explained I wasn’t about to raise my girl to wish upon a star and wait for
her prince. I’d rather teach her to get into a rocket ship and reach that star for herself. I wanted that message on infant girl clothing, but couldn’t find it. At least, I couldn’t find it on the “girl side” of the aisle.

Then I had one of those A ha! moments – why wasn’t anyone making clothes like that for girls? I scooped up my baby, raced home, and I filled page after page with ideas and drawings and plans…..for what would become my company Pigtail Pals.

I don’t see childhood as having a boy side and a girl side. I see childhood as a time for brightly colored, unstructured play fueled by powerful imaginations and the understanding all young children seem to have that the world is their oyster.

I have worked diligently to keep our home media literate, gender neutral with toys, and full of playthings that are open ended. My husband and I try to keep gender stereotypes and sexualization out of our home. I certainly will not be teaching my daughter, who was named after Amelia Earhart, to sit quietly and be pretty. I flatly refuse to teach her that her beauty is her worth.

I believe girls deserve better. I believe we need to change the way we think about our girls. I think girls should be allowed to dream in every color. I think girls should have the freedom to imagine growing up to be a doctor, a race car driver, a pilot, or an astronaut. Or a pirate or knight or dinosaur tamer. Today’s girls are being raised by a generation of women that is the most well educated, most well traveled, most liberated
to ever have walked the earth. But you wouldn’t know it after an afternoon of shopping. Today’s girls are being raised by a generation of men who are hands-on and emotionally intelligent and who now more than ever understand the special role of being a father to a girl.

I raise my girl to be smart, daring, and adventurous. I don’t think those things belong on the “boy side” of the aisle. I simply think they belong right in the middle of childhood.


ThePeachy1 said...

super cool. My daughter now 21. Is getting her BA this year, she can change a tire, works at home depot, went to congress when she was 15. She is absolutely beautiful and totally self reliant. She was a fireman on her 4th Halloween because it wasn't fire fighters yet, everyone said, "cute boy", I said actually , "smart girl". She refuses to date until she finishes college. I am so happy that she doesn't NEED to be anyones princess or a plastic person, this is what will indeed make her someones princess in the end.

Joe B said...

"I raise my girl to be smart, daring, and adventurous. I don’t think those things belong on the “boy side” of the aisle. I simply think they belong right in the middle of childhood."

I don't think I could say it better. My daughter is 4. She is adventurous, outgoing, and bold. She loves to play in the dirt, and throw rocks at ducks, but she loves to dress as a fairy or a princess. She loves being scared, and wrestling, but will also nuzzle herself next to me on the couch. I love this post.

Anonymous said...

I want my girl to be who or what she dreams, not a perception of what she should be.

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