This post was originally posted on Butwhymummywhy?‘s blog.
Recently I was reading a great blog post over at Lulastic check her out if you haven’t come across her before.
The subject was gender and brought up an issue that has played on my mind a lot while bringing up my 4 year old daughter Noo.
My mum raised me with the determination that there shouldn’t be a divide in toys or colours depending on gender, for example she made sure I had both a play kitchen and a garage. Further to that I was never allowed a Barbie as she felt it promoted a warped body image in girls and well basically didn’t like what they promoted – unrealistically super skinny, big boobed girls only concerned with pretty clothes and make-up. She would rather I had more ambitious role models! As a young adult I reflected on these decisions made by my mum and I was really proud of them as they had helped shaped the person I was becoming. I knew that I would want to do the same if ever I had a daughter of my own.
Fast forward to now and we have a very different situation to the one I had hoped for.
Noo loves pink, sparkles, princesses, dresses and well Barbies (*ahem*).
How on earth did that happen?
Here’s my thoughts on it. At the age of 13 months Noo started at nursery full time. I was training to be a social worker and needed to do a full time placement for 6 months. Although I missed her I was happy that I was setting a good example to my daughter by having an ambition and career. I shall come back to the working mum/stay at home mum issue another time!
However, it was during this time when the ‘pink is for girls an blue is for boys’ began. No matter how many times I questioned her on this or corrected her she would not budge. She’d even laugh at me for being ‘a silly mummy’. When she was 2 she refused to wear trousers as they were for boys, apparently. Now I am always in jeans and rarely wear skirts or dresses, but this was not enough to convince her that girls could wear trousers.
This attitude has continued, she is now 4 and a half and I can count on one hand the number of times she has worn trousers over the past couple of years. She even used to think we were punishing her if we made her wear them. I have even tried bright pink skinny jeans, but no, nothing. Baffling.
She loves Barbies. Again this has started through nursery and friends houses. I fought giving in to it for a while but in the end I let her have one (or more..). It raised a lot of questions in me though, if I was to deny these things to her wouldn’t it just make her resentful of me, isn’t it just a phase or even part of the person that she is? Some girls just love pink, it doesn’t mean she won’t follow her dreams, be ‘successful’ or achieve great things.
I’m gutted that she has conformed to a gender stereotype but I’m not going to manipulate her to change what she likes. I know that inspite of the ongoing pink obsession she is strong and independent and confident. This are characteristics that make her hard work sometimes but I am also fiercely proud of them and hope to continue to nurture them. Hopefully with a bit of humility thrown in there aswell though!!
So all in all things haven’t quite gone the way I expected them to. I am very interested to see how her little sister will turn out.. oh and of course she got a toy garage for her 1st birthday! ;-)