When I defended my senior honors thesis about Disney, it inevitably resulted in a conversation amongst the faculty in attendance about what Disney material is and is not appropriate for children. Something that kept on popping up was whether or not little girls should be watching princess movies. It’s a really tough call, you know? On the one hand, you really don’t want your kid thinking that her value depends on long, luscious locks and big doe eyes, but it’s really hard to uphold that decision when she’s surrounded by these images all over the place.
And then one of my professors said something that completely changed my view on parenting: “I let my daughter watch it, but with trepidation,” she said. “I’m just more scared nowadays of her growing up thinking that things typically categorized as ‘feminine’ are bad.”
So now I’ve decided that when I have a daughter, her nursery will be pink.
It has nothing to do with me wanting her to wear ribbons and ruffles and all kinds of frills, nor do I want her constantly worrying about what’s staring back at her in the mirror. It’s just that fundamentally, from a young age, I want her to know that in a world that sometimes isn’t so fair to women, it’s still okay and cool and awesome to be one.
But that doesn’t mean I won’t let her play with trucks, or wear blue, or play in the dirt. The minute she tells me she doesn’t like pink, or that she wants a Thomas the Tank Engine, or anything more traditionally associated with little boys, it’s all hers. It’s not like I’ll have a problem with my little girl playing with toys other than princesses and tea sets, it’s just that I want her to know that those things aren’t bad either. Above all, I want her to feel empowered to make a choice about who or what she plays with, and I want her to respect other girls’ empowerment, too. I want her to know that for every little girl who wants to make model rocket ships, there’s another little girl who genuinely wants to play with baby dolls, and both are equally rad.
Because for me, that’s the biggest part of this feminism thing. Beyond men and women being seen as equals in all aspects of life and society, I value being empowered to make my own choices. Like when feminists scoff at my waist-length hair that’s almost always done, or my shaved armpits, or my pink painted finger nails — how dare they. How can they call themselves feminists while simultaneously tearing down me, a fellow woman? Aren’t we all supposed to support each other, regardless of our choices to look more traditionally ‘feminine’ or more gender neutral?
I guess that’s how I want to raise my daughter. To be ready to accept anyone – no matter of the choices they make – and to be ready to accept herself as well.