When I was four years old I wanted to be a fashion buyer for a department store and drive a tractor to work. I still think that would be a rad job, even if a tractor would make for a slow commute. I like the juxtaposition of the two. It also speaks to the child I was, that I not only wanted to dictate what I wore but also control the options that were available to everyone. I still do.
The other day Huck and I went to his very favorite place- Target- (I’ll take my parenting award now, thank you) and as a reward for some very good behavior he was allowed to pick one toy from the “partment”. It was a painstaking process. Would Legos win? Oh, look Power Rangers! No. No…new TMNT toys are in! Finally after about ten minutes of rumination he picked a real treasure. Pinky Pie, from My Little Pony. Or as he calls them La la pony. I smiled at him and handed over the $5.99 as he beamed at his treat. He is all boy, cars, wrestling and pink ponies. He defines who he is minute by minute, just as Max does. Max is all baseball and Beatles…and all about babies.
I like those juxtapositions too.
I hope my daughter will find her own as well. She will be free to define herself minute by minute too. Whatever she is into.
From the moment she was born people started telling me “No princesses!” “No matter what you do, just don’t do princesses!” and I have to admit that that hurt my heart a little because, well, I LOVE the Princesses! I can’t wait to share them with her!
I know, I know everyone hates the 1950’s the wedding is the ultimate goal of them all, and perhaps I was really dim as a girl- but I never took that away from those stories. I took many ideologies from them; you can travail over extreme obstacles, you can find beauty and friends in odd places. That there is evil in the world and that knowing who to trust is important. That optimism and perseverance can pay off. But scoring the man was not the main holdover for me. Perhaps it came from having a strong single mother. Toilet needs fixing? She did it. Want to rearrange heavy furniture? She’s doing it. I adopted that. It’s hard for me to wait even 10 minutes for help, I will just move that damn couch myself! Teach myself to use power tools so I can do what I want. My daughter will learn that, alongside me just as I learned it alongside my mother.
By typical definition I am a “girly girl” and I love that. I love pretty clothes, jewelry, bedding…love it. BRING IT ON! I love looking and feeling like, let’s be honest, an aging Princess. And yes, my wedding was as Princess-y as I could get it. My gown was huge, my tiara glittered. I had one veil for the wedding and one for the reception. The location was as Castle like as I could find in all of Southern California. But so what? Does that make me less of a feminist?
No. Princess Stephanie rocks the feminism and true feminism is the opportunity for all women to have equal rights and opportunities to do with as THEY choose. Stay at home mom who wants to do nothing but be a quiverfull member? I might think you are crazy…but GO YOU! No kids, two doctorates in physics and kicking ass at work? That’s way beyond me ..but GO YOU! Or like most of us, we fall somewhere in the middle. We are stay at home moms who miss work and long for adult conversations and activities that don’t involve Caillou. We are stay at home moms who feel completely fulfilled just as we are. We are working women who want kids but not yet. We are working women who have kids. We are single moms, we are married and child free by choice. We are ALL women with all choices. That’s feminism. My personal brand of feminism involves creativity, pretty clothes, tiaras, power tools, fighting for reproductive rights and marriage equality and yes, I hate to break it to you; Princesses.
As a special bedtime treat my mother would sometimes put my read along Cinderella record on my turntable and we would act out the story. She being Prince Charming and of course I was Cinderella. I remember this vividly, one of those childhood memories that are snapshots of happiness. Several decades later I stood in a recording studio with a contract from Disney and narrated that very book for a new read-along. It was a dream come true for me. Cinderella. My favorite. I nailed it. It was beautiful. But my voice choked on one sentence so that we had to do several takes. Emotion bubbling to the surface as I spoke “and they lived happily ever after”
That moment was a happily ever after for me. Perhaps to some that phrase was the end of the story but to me it always seemed the beginning of infinite possibilities. My possibility involved a full circle from listening to the book to being a part of perhaps some other little girl acting out her story. Perhaps MY little girl acting out her story. I hope she will know Happily Ever After isn’t the end, it’s just the start, or perhaps it’s the middle. Our real lives aren’t over when we get married why would the Princess’s be? It might be the start of the Princess taking her throne, and a new phase of her using her power to effect change in the world. In her world whatever she defines that to be.
I am a feminist wrapped up in Princesses and that’s okay.
So don’t come down on my kid if she likes princesses. Don’t tell her no. Because if she is anything like me, she will kick your ass while wearing that glass slipper.