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The problem with The Pink Fairy Dress

pinkfairy_featLittle G was supposed to be a tomboy.

Why? Because I willed it. She was supposed to be a boy (’cause that’s what I expected), she has an older half-brother, her dad coaches rugby and her mum never wears make up. She’s been playing living room football since before she could walk herself to the ball, she’s a rough ‘n’ tumble kid and she’s no wuss. But, she’s not a tomboy either.

Little G loves pink. She has blonde ringlets which bounce behind her and she casually flicks them over her shoulder. She’s a total flirt with her uncles and Grandpa (yes, at 2 years old). She is very happy to make make pretend cups of tea or coffee. She wraps up ‘baby’ to sleep in the laundry basket most nights. She loves brooms and washing dishes. She is who she is.

I thought I had made my peace with it. Then came The Pink Fairy Dress.

Aunt J arrived to babysit on a Saturday morning a few weeks back so I could go to the gym (Yay, Aunt J!). When I arrived home, half-assed sweaty (a little exercise is better that none, right?), Little G was wearing The Pink Fairy Dress, complete with ruffles, sequins and wings. And she was happy with this gift. Very happy. (Yay, Aunt J!)

All was good until I wanted to go to the grocery store…

Little G did not want to take off The Pink Fairy Dress. Little G refused to take off The Pink Fairy Dress. Mummy was not happy.

I know she is 2. I know it is superficial for me to want to control how my daughter dresses. I know pink and sequins and wings make her happy. I know that me trying to force her not to wear The Pink Fairy Dress was comparable to my mother forcing me to wear itchy, scratchy lace tights as a kid. I still didn’t like it.

I just didn’t want to go out in public and have other people to think I was trying to push the princess thing on her.

See what’s wrong there? Other people. What other people think of my parenting, is not the same as how I’m parenting.

Luckily, my husband is a sensible man who’s not half as caught up with idealistic rebellion against gender stereotypes or what other people think. So, Little G spends a lot of time wearing The Pink Fairy Dress – until it impedes her climbing at the park.

The cool thing is when she’s dressed in The Pink Fairy Dress, she’s usually whacking a balloon around with an mini ice hockey stick.

Clearly, I’m totally OK with cultural stereotypes!



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5 comments so far -

  1. I’m glad you brought this up as it relates to some recent thoughts I’ve had as I (my wife) plans for my daughter’s first birthday.

    Firstly, my daughter was supposed to be a boy, I have no medical expertise backing this up, but I saw what I saw in that ultrasound. Needless to say, I’m super happy with my daughter and have zero complaints about her gender and look forward to early morning tea parties and other such activities. I’ll also wholeheartedly support her goal of being the first girl on the high school football (American) team.

    So her first birthday party theme (I never had theme parties?) is monkeys…that’s it, monkeys. No princesses, no fairies, no pink overload. Just monkeys and wine for the adults who have to suffer through a baby’s first birthday party who will be confronted with evil looks and screams the second they get near the guest of honour.

    Now, when she has a better grasp of vocabulary for her second or third birthday and wants a fairy or a princess party, no problem. Regardless of my wishes, my daughter will have hers granted. However, it will not be a Disney Princess or a Tinkerbell party. My hope is that my daughter will grow up to admire modern stories created for children that have a positive view on gender roles. More importantly, I hope my daughter has heroes that aren’t merely a cross promotion for products being produced by young women not much older than my daughter in a land far far away…

    Pink fairy dress no problem, let her imagination fill in the back story:

  2. I wouldn’t worry too much, I dress up as a fairy/Alice from Wonderland and host kids birthday parties for a living! They all love the fairy dress at some point, half of the boys turn up in fairy dresses too! Before you know it she’ll be onto mermaids, ninja turtles and ponies, let her be who she wants to be 🙂

  3. I feel the same about pink ‘girly’ stuff. I think its disgraceful how hard it is to buy shoes/pjs/clothes for a girl if you don’t like that style. And often the shoes are impractical and flimsy. Usually it is about the style rather than the colour, though, because pink is actually an ok colour. But I do have to say this…don’t apply gender to the role play activities…Making cups of tea, caring for babies, sweeping and helping to do the dishes are not just naturally things that ‘girly’ girls gravitate towards, ALL kids like those things because they are modelling what they see adults do. A tomboy will still do that! The important thing is to not make these activities ‘women’s’ jobs that boys shouldn’t do, or, conversely, exclude girls from things like construction, cars or sport. Girls SHOULD do all those things and so should boys. Its how they learn about life. Like you say, the fairy wings are ok, so long as they are sometimes worn with ripped stripy tights and boots in the mud, or up a tree, or holding your own against your big brother on the football pitch! She will be a strong woman, you have nothing to worry about. (She has you for a mother!) Strong women can wear pink if they want, and so can strong men. And we all need to know how to make a decent cuppa.

  4. I really thought we were just going to play dress-up, didn’t expect the Pink Fairy Dress to go in public… But what’s even better than a kid turning out as you expected? A kid who asserts her own identity 🙂

  5. You know – you don’t want her to be a stereotype and wear pink or fairy dresses – but is being a tomboy not a stereotype? Why do you think people are looking at you thinking “you made her wear a princess dress”, why would they not be thinking “that mother is making her daughter wear tomboy clothes”?

    You should feel proud you have raised a daughter who’s not a stereotype, she’s not a stereotype tomboy or girly princess – why, because she feels confident enough to make choices that please her regardless and she can be whatever she wants to be that day. As a great parent that is the gift you have given your daughter and long may she keep it.

    p.s. I also thing women and girls should reclaim pink, and glitter, and fairy wings – why should we let a style define us as people? I am all for wearing pink fairy dresses with wings and climbing trees in it, even at my age if I could find a fairy dress that fits.

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