Many women dream of having a girl so they can dress her up in beautiful dresses and adorn her in princess gowns, tiaras, and headbands. They cannot wait to purchase the sparkly shoes, the iridescent earrings, and the fluffy tutus. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of it, to be sure, but there are certain things you don't have to do when you dress your daughter, too. One of those things is conform to gender stereotypes. Yes, you can dress your daughter in dresses to your heart's content, but make sure to offer other alternatives and to remind her that she can wear anything she wants.
When my daughter was first born, there weren't nearly as many gender neutral choices for clothing as there are now. Most clothing departments were heavily stereotypical. "Girl" departments were pink and "boy" departments were blue. I remember trying to find a black turtleneck for a costume and I was only able to find one in the boy's department. I've been wearing black since I can remember, so like, why can't my daughter? Colors like greens, deep blues, browns, oranges were nowhere near the girl's section; they were mostly reserved for boys.
Sure, girls have numerous options in that they can wear pants and skirts without being ridiculed. But just because those options are there, doesn't mean parents are utilizing them. Many parents still stick to clothing that clearly identifies gender and it's just not necessary. Let your kid choose what she wants to wear and, as long as it's appropriate for the season, let her wear it. Girls should know that, contrary to popular belief, it's not the clothes that make the person. Girls should know that they can wear anything they wish, no matter the color, the style, or the way others might possibly perceive them. So, with that in mind and because we should all be teaching our daughter's that their options are limitless, here's what you absolutely do not have to do when you get your daughter ready for the day:
Adorn Her In Pink Or Purple
I know most girl's clothing departments are abundant in pinks and purples, but I promise those aren't the only colors available for girls to wear. Numerous clothing and department stores are finally getting with the times and are providing more options for girls. Eventually, your daughter will develop her own taste in clothes, but until then, try to give her a variety of colors and styles to choose from. It's fun, I promise.
Make Her Wear Headbands
When my daughter was a baby, she could easily pass for a boy. In fact, one of the days we were out, and she happened to be dressed head-to-toe in pink, some stranger asked me if she was a boy or a girl. I wasn't at all offended, either. I mean, my daughter was a bald newborn. Just because I know she is a girl doesn't mean everyone else does, too. And even if someone thinks she's a boy, what's the harm exactly? Many moms buy headbands for their girls because they are afraid strangers would confuse their bald girl for a bald boy, but it's not at all necessary. Sure, those headbands are beautiful and adorable, but they aren't needed. Believe me, nothing will happen if someone confuses your child's sex.
Purchase Only Princess Costumes
Prior to having kids, I swore to myself that if I ever had a daughter I wouldn't show her a single Disney princess movie. I did not change my mind after I had a daughter either, but one day she came home from daycare and told me she wants to be a princess when she grows up. After I quickly processed such obvious betrayal of my feminist heart, I begrudgingly showed her some Disney princess movies and she fell in love.
When it came time to purchase those costumes, however, I added some superhero gear in the mix. You know, just for the balance.
Dress Her Exclusively In Skirts & Dresses
There are more options for girls than dresses and skirts. If your daughter likes to wear those things, that's great! But if she prefers pants and jeans, that's her call and not at all yours.
Pierce Her Ears
In my culture, it's customary to pierce a girl's ears the moment she pops out of her mother. I did not want to follow that archaic tradition. I decided that my daughter will make up her own mind, when she is old enough, about whether or not she wants to pierce her ears. I couldn't care less if she never does. Her body, her choice.
Tell Her She Looks Pretty
When we are going out and my daughter gets dressed up, sometimes I want to tell her how pretty she looks in her outfit. The problem with me commenting on her looks every time she gets dressed though is that it sends the wrong message. It tells my daughter that she has to get dressed up in order for someone to see her and to tell her she's beautiful.
Instead, I make sure to comment on her abilities, appearance, and personality often and randomly, so she doesn't learn to associate her looks with that she is wearing.
Buy Her Makeup
I catch a lot of heat for my views on little girls wearing makeup, but I don't typically care what people think about my parenting. See, I don't believe in little girls wearing makeup, not even "for fun." I don't think girls should wear makeup until much later in life, if at all. First, makeup has a ridiculous amount of toxic chemicals in it that we don't even know the effects of. Second, why is it necessary? We should teach our daughters about their natural beauty, not help them mask it.
Worry About Stains & Rips
I have a few friends who have only boys and they constantly complain about how boys just ruin their clothes and go through pants faster than they can buy them. I get annoyed when my daughter stains her clothes or rips her pants, too, but because it happens so rarely I don't really think about it that much.
Active girls, however and just like active boys, will rip and stain and ruin their clothing and moms should just let them. After all, clothes are dispensable, but your daughter's confidence and feelings of self-worth are not.
Limit Her Choices To "Feminine" Clothing
Eventually, your daughter will start choosing what she wants to wear and it happens much faster than you may think. By the time my daughter was 2-years-old she was already coordinating her outfits, picking and choosing from whatever she had in her closet. If her choices were limited, though, she wouldn't have the luxury of wearing a bathing suit top with a pair of jeans and rain boots in the winter. Make sure your daughter has choices and that those choices aren't just flowery tops and glittery skirts or tutus.
Perpetuate Gender Stereotypes With Graphic Tees
Graphic t-shirts are super in right now and most stores are moving in the right direction. However, there are still plenty of shirts in the girl's department that say "Born To Be A Princess" and "Strong Like Dad," and those shouldn't be the only options for your daughter to wear. Instead, try a "Future Engineer" or a "Strong Like Mom" shirt. Your kid will probably love those, too.