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the aspirations we have for our little girls… depressing

Posted by on Jul 26, 2010 in Blog Posts | 5 comments

Girls book of Glamour. A Guide to being a godess..

(Girl in the tub scrubbing her dainty, surely ‘fiercely’ polished toes…)
The Boys Book of Greatness, how you can be the best at everything… (boy playing hockey)
This in the tween section at Target.
Ugh. This makes me crazy, but doesn’t surprise. Anyone who has been shopping in the traditional toy stores see “girls” items: dress-up princess clothes, “heel-highs” as M calls them, slutty looking dolls, make-up kits, spa-play, tiny compact mirrors, cell-phones. The most active her make-believe roles might get is to make-over animals at the puppy salon, or be a contestant on American Idol…
I am out of town… Will try to reply to comments when I get back…
Boys on the other hand can be fire-men, police, work in construction, sports, rockets, etc. (OK, so there isn’t really the accountant or MBA action figure, but their roles and fantasy lives are not encouraged to be based solely on their looks and outer appearance.)
It seems to be getting worse, it seems unstoppable. It makes me sad. It makes sense that most tween girls are dieting when they have been fed a steady intake of body-image damaging and distorting garbage from birth it seems… Sorry for the rant.
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  1. Kirsten

    I was lucky–I grew up in a family with 20 cousins, and until I was 17 and my sister 13, we were the only 2 girls. I have 4 uncles and one aunt (of blood relation), so my grandmother, just used to dealing with boys more than girls, systematically bought my sister and the same sort of things she bought my male cousins for birthdays and Christmas: lots of action figures (never Barbie or dolls), Lego, Star Wars stuff, Matchbox and Tonka, an erector set, a chemistry set, bug collecting kit, microscope and slides set…….all those “boys” kinds of things. You know what?
    We had the best of both worlds, I thought. I was able to indulge myself in Barbie and baby dolls, and then when I got sick of playing house or school, I could go out and get muddy, dirty, sweaty, scabby, stinky and basically just FERAL playing with the boys. Mud pies, mud fights, exploring in the woods, digging worms to go fishing, playing army in the tall grass in the field at the end of our cul-de-sac, all kinds of sports, even full tackle football…… was great! I had fun, got heaps of fresh air and exercise, and actually learned a lot of skills I’d not have learned if my mom and dad had insisted on me sticking to the things that were “appropriate” for my gender.

  2. rsmr

    My daughter, despite our best efforts at providing toys from both the "girl" and "boy" categories, is a girly-girl. She loves tutus, ballet, playing endlessly with dolls, and–argh!–everything princess. The princess thing is relentless, Disney has tie-ins to every conceivable product. Princess stickers, books, clocks, backpacks, lipsticks, toys, face-paint, stationery, dishes, furniture…it's endless! I can feel my mother, who marched for equal rights in the 60s and 70s and was involved with the ERA movement until her death, rolling in her grave.

    The day, not so long ago, when my daughter decided that Wonder Woman was cooler than Cinderella was seriously one of the best days of my life. Even in a hoochie outfit (which I heard has just been updated to something much more appropriate) Wonder Woman is so much more empowered than any princess. Bullet-deflecting bracelets! Truth-inducing lasso! Cool invisible jet (that strangely doesn't make the pilot invisible)! Awesome!

    In spite of my memories of my own father drooling over Linda Carter in the TV show, I'm sure my mother would approve of this change.


    • katja

      Ha! I know! Why the invisible jet if they can still see the pilot! We too have gone through the Princess phase (out now bc the older kids in school think its not “cool.” Amazing, peer pressure pre-K! M likes to dress up too, but she also crawls in the mud and is fascinated by all-things worm and bug. I think if the interest comes from within… It’s tough though. We were lucky to go to Disney last year, and there were all the girls who went to the “salon” and had on the dresses, sparkles, hair, tiara… I wonder if it’s more for the moms or the kids. I imagine M would have enjoyed that on some level, but she didn’t even know it was an option. I felt sorry for the girls sweating in their polyester, itchy dresses all day. But then, we waited in line for 45 minutes for M to get her hair “wrapped” in the colorful string thing. She LOVED it. Not the process, but the hair wrap stayed in for the maximum 8 week recommendation. it’s a strange balance. I also struggle bc she is so cute to me I could eat her up, and I know I say far too often, “You’re so cute!!” Must stop… Sometimes she puts on an outfit and asks if she’s “pretty.” I say, “you’re always pretty, if your’e covered in mud, or running around naked, or wearing that dress, you’re always cute to me.” Oh well, what to do. I guess my issue with this party, is that getting “pretty” is the entertainment, and it’s aimed at ones so little…(OK, I have more issues than that!)

  3. jm

    Yes, it sucks. It does seem worse than when I was a kid in the 80s, but I could be wrong. Thanks for speaking up.

  4. Katie

    When I was taking a sociology class, one of the studies we learned about involving gender roles was about just how early society, people the child knows and even their parents will subconsciously start treating kids differently based on their gender.

    The subjects were 18-month-old babies and their mothers. The people doing the study saw a definitive pattern: at 18 months, mothers already let male children play more independently, go further away to explore, hold new things for longer, make louder sounds before they would be reprimanded, and be 'rougher' with things while mothers were already keeping their girls much closer, shushing them for 'being loud' much earlier, chastising them for being rough long before boys would have been… it was pretty enlightening. From birth people also start up the "Your girl is so PRETTY" vs. "Your boy is so strong!"

    Kids pick up on that pretty early and will work really hard to fit the gender roles that society appears to be assigning them. It can be pretty rough. There's a lot of little girls out there that start hating themselves way too young because the message they're being sent is that there is never going to be a way to be delicate, feminine, skinny, or quiet enough.

    I think the best a parent can really do is to be living proof that that isn't the only way to live, and encourage their kid to be whoever they want to be, whenever they want. A lot of girls go through the puberty gauntlet (when all this stuff is at its worst) and come out the other side, but a lot of girls don't, and I think support networks have a lot to do with it.


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