Friday, April 18, 2008

Packaging Girlhood

That's the title of the book for this month's Book Club in our AP playgroup. Book Club was a couple of nights ago. I'm not done with the book yet, but I'll give you my thoughts:

It basically tells me things I already know. Marketers are trying to sell girls an image and they have limited the images to 4 or 5 main ideas. You get boxed in and you've got to figure out how to break those images and the stereotypes around them. The book tries to give you solutions to this dilemma, but I didn't think they were very effective.

The book did, however, make me think about how I think about my little girl. When she kicks me in bed at night (and does she kick!) am I thinking, "She'll make a great soccer player," "She's going to be a figure skater," or "Someone's going to be a long jumper!" Of course, am I boxing her in by thinking these things?

It also made me think about what we bought for her the other day. We came home with 2 dresses, overalls, and a onesie to wear under the overalls. Admittedly, the dresses are pink. Many of you know I'm not a very pink girl myself. I have some pink, but only 2 shirts. Why did I buy the pink dresses? Well, they were the only dresses with sleeves and didn't give the illusion of breasts. All the other dresses were tank tops or emphasized chest. Gosh. My girl isn't even 3 weeks old! Can you give her some time to hit puberty?

The overalls were acquired in the boy's section. Overalls are just cute on small kids. Somewhere they become less cute- I think that's around the age of 12. No frills on the overalls, just plain jeans. The onesie for underneath the overalls is white with some flowers at the top. McKay did point out to me, "It (the overalls) will hide some of the flowers." I didn't care.

Things I wanted to buy: I saw this orange dress. It was lovely. I thought the orange was a great color. Then I turned the dress around and saw the hearts, flowers, and butterflies. Yeah. I left that dress on the rack. I also liked this green shirt, but it had trucks on it and McKay didn't really want our girl looking like a boy. I argued that I always wanted a shirt that color (I have, but I only buy clearance and I've not found one on the clearance rack yet) and that it wasn't a boy color.

Things I didn't buy: Headbands. When we looked at the headbands, I had specific qualities in mind: I wanted a light blue one and a bright yellow one. The set we found were all pastel. This worked for the blue, but I really wanted BRIGHT yellow, not pastel. So we left it. And the pink and purple headbands in the set had butterflies on them... yeah. And the butterflies were kind of ugly, too.

Other things I've been thinking:
I've been thinking a lot about the kind of girl I was when I was little: what shows I watched, what magazines I read, what clothes I wore. I'd like to think I was a pretty well-rounded child. When I look at Margaret, I hope she can be well-rounded too and not depend on others to decide her interests and hobbies. By "others" I do include us as parents. If she doesn't really want to take lessons for XYZ, then I hope I don't force her to. Similarly, I hope I don't discourage her from doing hobby RST. Of course, this is within limits. If hobby RST is detrimental (such as drugs), then I am definitely discouraging it.

Really, I hope she knows that she's strong and that she'll find glory in womanhood.


  1. Almost everything Deirdre wears was given to us, and it is almost all pink. That's why I'm glad we still have some of Connor's clothes, so she can wear a skull and crossbones, or camoufage. If she wants to be girly, fine, butI want her to choose it, not have it pushed on her.

  2. ...and Sam thought I was particular about Eden's clothes..I think you take the prize but I totally see where you are coming from.

  3. Anonymous8:15 AM

    So what are your thoughts then on what you bought? Are you setting her up with an image already. I don't think there s anything wrong with what you bought but what's wrong with girly stuff too. If you want her to make up her mind, obviously not an issue yet, you need to present her with all the options. How does a baby dress emphasis the chest area?


  4. Mandi,
    Well, I know she'll have plenty of pink- you can't really avoid it, I'm really just trying to make special effort to buy other colors so that in the future, she'll have a choice. I, myself, own pink with flowers and such- it's not inherently bad, but the fact that the girl's clothing section is predominantly pink is limiting.


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