Saturday, August 25, 2012
Embracing the Pink
When Katherine came home, I was appalled by the overwhelming prevalence of pink in little girls' clothing and toys and room decor. I did not want my daughter to be enveloped in a world where women sat around looking pretty . I tried my best to avoid the long reach of Disney and pink media influence. I dressed Katherine in overalls and bought her legos and a dumptruck. I vowed never to allow Barbie in my house. I would NOT raise a princess.
Katherine followed my plan nicely. As a toddler, she fell passionately in love with Thomas the Tank Engine and we spent much of her preschool years building elaborate cities for her trains and discussing railroad terminology. She loved blocks and legos and hauled toys around in the dumptruck. She was not at all impressed with either pink or princesses. She was a girl even less girlie than I had been. Every time I saw little girls swathed in pink and sequins I rolled by eyes and gave myself a pat on the back for raising a different kind of child.
Then Rachel arrived and turned our quiet, orderly, gender neutral house upside down. And, like second children everywhere, she forced us to re-examine everything we thought we knew about parenting. I soon discovered that nature trumps nurture big time when it comes to personality. And the new little girl in my house was nothing at all like her sister. For years I had taught, and believed, the preschool addage of "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit." And what I got was a daughter who was totally in touch with her feminine side.
From the very beginning, Rachel was drawn to anything pink or sparkly. She loved dress-up and jewelry and plastic high heeled shoes. And soon, she was utterly obssessed with the color pink. Pink toys. Pink clothes. Pink blankets. Pink ice cream. And then came Dora. And princesses. Despite not having seen most of the Disney movies, Rachel knows the names and stories of every princess. She begs us to take her to "Princess World" (also known as Disney World). She insists on carrying a purse. She has asked me repeatedly to start wearing makeup so that she can watch me put it on. She wears her plastic "click clack shoes" whenever possible. She knows the location of all the princess books at the public library. She carries around her princess dolls and combs their hair. She adores photos of brides and Miss America contestants. She obssesses over tubes of lip balm. She is delighted when strangers address her as "Princess". She is the ultimate girlie girl.
At first, I was more than a little ambivelent about Rae's deep fascination with pink and princesses. But it is clear that this is a very real part of who she is. So we have slowly learned to embrace the pink. And it's not all bad. It turns out that three layers of princess dresses and mismatched click clack shoes look pretty cute on a 4 year old. And painting fingernails is actually a lot of fun. It's fun to buy Rachel pink clothes, because she gets so excited about them. And you can build princess castles with blocks. I get a little tired of reading Cinderella books, but Thomas the train got old, too. We still don't have any Barbie dolls, but Rae keeps asking for them and my resistance is waning. But I have come to realize that Rachel doesn't like Barbie and princesses because she's waiting passively for her prince to come and save her or because she thinks that the perfect woman has plastic yellow hair and enormous cleavage. She just likes the glitz. Really, all she wants is a tiara and some bling and maybe a magic wand.
Rachel has taught me many things. One of those is things is how to appreciate a girlie girl. I know the princess obssession will eventually fade away, but I doubt that the love of all things feminine will. I just need to find Rae a good role model for that disastrous 7th grade eye shadow stage. And start planning ahead for prom dresses and a large shoe collection. But for now, I'll just enjoy her where she is now. Because like it or not, I'm raising a princess. And that's okay.