Ask a Mama: What’s Wrong with Being a Girly Girl?

So many of the people I know who have little girls act disgusted with things associated with being a girl. For example, pink, sparkles, ruffles, princesses and babies. I am girly 85% of the time and my daughter is probably about the same if not more. Why do so many people feel that letting our daughters have princess moments and dressing them in pink sparkles is going to mean they won’t be intelligent and amazing people? What is it that they feel is so wrong? Would they not let their sons play with trucks and love sports? It doesn’t seem fair to me and their judgments make me feel insecure because my daughter is so very girlie. I want all the same things for my daughter that they do.

My daughter was 5 years old one exhausting day when I was corralling the kids into the car to grocery shop. She appeared wearing a smocked dirndl skirt on her head as a turban, the skirt flowing down her back. She looked like a miniature Hedy Lamarr gone awry. I was too tired to protest and passed many raised eyebrows at the store as people surveyed my bedraggled little tribe. She crayoned her nails red (I don’t wear nail polish), loved gaudy beads, and forced her brothers into imaginary play where they had to call her mama as she cooked and cleaned and taught them their ABC’s (I was working on the ferries as an Ablebodied Seaman at the time).

She was a girly-girl for about 3 years  and then moved into tomboy territory–her horse phase–where she galloped everywhere, tossed her hair like a mane, and stomp-kicked her legs when irritated. Both stages—Hedy Lamarr and cowgirl—were important to the young woman she was to become.

Of course she was observing me as she grew up, all daughters observe their mothers, and she was influenced by my choices  (“I like that… I don’t like that…”), but I allowed what rose up through years with little comment. And that is what is key here—to allow our daughters and sons room to try themselves on for size without judgment or pushing. Authenticity is a vital component to happiness in life. By being true to ourselves–whatever that may look like–and not shamed or coerced into pleasing, we have a leg up toward a meaningful life.

I am not talking about condoning violence or allowing a hyper-awareness of how one appears to others. Television and the media have an undue influence on our children and a child’s perception can be twisted into unhealthy versions of self (I must be skinny, beautiful, and sexy to be loved). Limit or turn off the television —one of the wisest choices I ever made as a mother. As long as your daughter has the space to be who she wants to be, you have done your job and you do not need to feel judged. As we raise our children there will always be others– professionals, teachers, and other parents– who will have an opinion on what is right for our child, but you are her one and only mama who knows her best of all. Follow your heart unapologetically.



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