9/12/10

The Feminist Princess


My daughter, who is three has been very obsessed with her princess dresses these days. There is literally not one day where she does not wear one of her pink, purple or white cake dresses to run the simplest of errands. One can no longer just 'slip something on the kids' and run out to take out the recycling. No!! Princess must not only put on her huge taffeta dress, but also buckle on her sparkly red shoes.

Regardless of the fact that she is only 3 years old and her reasons for wanting to be a princess are as pure as mountain water, I have been getting some very colorful reactions to her choice of dress. I have had people smile huge smiles and extend a few words of warmth her way as we pass by, and on the other hand, I've had people comment about how 'distorted' it all is; insinuating somehow that it's an imbalance and an unhealthy dependence on looks that could do nothing but damage the child in the end.

Having attended an all-girl's high school and an all-woman's college I am no stranger to all the rhetoric behind what a 'progressive' woman should and should not do to escape the fangs of oppression. I had once, in college, even subscribed to a strict 'feminist' ideas of not shaving my legs, refused to wear makeup and dresses. But it was very soon after that I realized I did not need to do or cease doing anything to prove I am a 'modern woman'. I can still shave, wear makeup, cook dinner. The very freedom to choose what lifestyle is the goal we all should aim towards as a mature and free society. Being aware of oppression towards woman does not require one to abandon womanhood as spelled out by the mainstream society. It happens that not only liked, but I LOVED to shave my legs, I loved wearing eye makeup and dresses and skirts and I did not feel an ounce of oppression from following my choices.

Therefore, when I see my daughter wanting to wear a dress that looks like a cake every single day I allow and openly encourage her CHOICE to do what she pleases with her body. There is absolutely nothing wrong with her following her own creative ideas of what beauty is and trying to match it through her wares.

I am not in the least worried about her princess obsession possibly causing any imbalances in her life. Ultimately, the MOST important factor in raising children successfully has nothing to do with clothing or makeup but the amount of quality time dedicated to the parent-child relationship by the parent. Kids know they are loved, wanted and of value the more time a parent dedicates to them. You could give your child millions of dollars, or give them everything they could ever ask for all the way up to a free college education. But it's only when you put in some hard time with this child that they KNOW they have value. It is the golden gift and only a parent has the touch or the ability to give it.

We are sure that one day she will be a strong woman with very clear sense of her own strengths physically, emotionally, socially and psychologically because daily we prioritize spending time with her (and her brother) over anything else in the world.

Nothing else is as important as "us" functioning as a family, and they know it. All other factors are water under the bridge.

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