Raising Girls to be Strong Women
Warning: I loved Barbies when I was a little girl, pranced around the house in my mother’s high heels and scarves and used to be a model, it is quite possible I am one of the “corrupted” and my views have been skewed!
I have read a lot of disturbing posts lately attacking Disney and what is called the “Princess Phenomenon,” including this one that discusses the book “Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture” with author Peggy Orenstein.
The women leading these online rants have a mass following and are working hard to instill gender equality for their daughters giving gifts of workbenches for Christmas in lieu of dolls and pink glittery dress-up clothes, and I find it baffling.
Maybe it is the fact that I spend so much time with my children, educating them at home, but it would seem common sense to me that it is not the nature of the toys, movies and other consumer products marketed to specific genders that shape the children and roles they choose to take in life, but the parents.
I’m not against banning certain toys from the home that you feel are detrimental to your child’s character development or that conflict with your family’s personal values. In fact, Bratz dolls and those similar are not allowed in our home, simply because I find there are more child-friendly dolls available.
Succumbing to the idea that a little girl who falls in love with the magic of fairy tales, happily adorning her blue Cinderella dress almost daily is going to grow up with skewed versions of her place in the world and a crappy self-esteem is ridiculous.
I don’t care if your daughter never touches a toy car, plays in the mud or shows an interest in sports, her ability to be a strong woman when she reaches adulthood is entirely up to the lessons the parents instills in her. With the proper attention to detail, love, and care in shaping your child’s character, no amount of mass consumer culture can dictate their lives.
What worries me the most about these “Anti-Princess” campaigns and the like is that these women who proclaim they are fighting the good fight for Feminism are blurring the lines between necessary freedoms for women and the path that nature has intended.
I am more than proud of the feminist movements in the past that granted women the right to work (those left without a husband are no longer forced to remarry as in the olden days to care for their children), my ability to vote and so much more. The current campaigns seem to go against everything that is natural to me.
First, you must understand that I am not religious, I am, however, a very spiritual person, with a love for nature and the cycles of life around us. That being said, I feel that every living creature has its place in life, even the female.
It is in our nature to be kind, compassionate, passionate, fierce when needed and so much more; giving us the maternal instincts needed to care for our children. Look at the female across all species, the norm among them is providing the nurture and care their children need while protecting and educating them.
In no way do I feel every woman should stay home and care for her children and home, or even that she must want or have children. It is a choice, a choice that often isn’t taken lightly, and one where the woman should be shown equal respect regardless of which she chooses.
However, I do believe though that the consumer society we have come to live in, where both parents work to pay for two cars, a home with square footage far beyond their needs and the newest luxuries as they hit the market, has caused the lines between what nature has intended for us and what people think must be done to be blurred.
I often think about my grandmother who passed away 11 years ago, she was a strong female in every sense of the word and a truly strong matriarch. She wore flowery dresses, woke each day hours before the rest to prepare breakfast and washed every dish in the home but she also held more authority and respect among her family and peers than more than half the men I have met in my lifetime.
She fell into the role that nature intended and she walked her path in life well. She was not silly enough to think that a man’s worth was more than hers because she made her place in the home. She wasn’t’ afraid to get her hands dirty and her self-confidence glowed despite the fact that many today would call her place in life “archaic.”
Being a stay-at-home mom, a model, an interior decorator, with a love for all things frilly and pink, doesn’t make you less of a woman. It doesn’t mean you don’t value the rights of women. It is simply what makes you (and maybe one day, your daughter) happy, and that is okay.
How do you raise girls into strong women?
Don’t shelter your girls from the world of princesses or push the choice of a gender-neutral décor over the pretty flowered duvet she really wants, instead, embrace your child’s personality for what it is.
Flow with the rhythm of life and let your child find her path. Encourage her when she needs a gentle nudge, introduce a world of opportunities and education, but remember to always let her MAKE the choice of that path without an overwhelming amount of jaded opinion from you.
Do You Have Princess Phobia?
How influential are Disney Princesses and other popular gender specific characters and products when it comes to raising your children?
Do you have a firm belief that women should stay home, make their mark in the world, or have you found a happy balance on what is expected of you and your daughters in today's society?
I would love to hear your thoughts!
Mom to one boy and two girls with varying interest in dolls, make-believe, coding, building, cooking and more. One is slightly obsessed with their hair, one tries to live in the same t-shirt and shorts (every day) and one that could retell every princess story as if they had written them.