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How far do you encourage your dds to 'play the game'? (apologies, long)

(36 Posts)
Takver Fri 28-Dec-12 19:12:57

I've posted here as I'd appreciate a specifically feminist perspective.

DD is 10 & in yr 6 at primary. She is becoming a bit of a 'misfit' at school, partly because she's being picked on by one fellow classmate (being tackled, said classmate has her own problems & hasn't only gone for dd), but more generally is standing out a bit I think for various reasons.

She is (at least according to her) the only girl in her class not to wear either a crop-top or proper bra. She's reasonably well developed, and certainly could wear a bra if she felt inclined. Although she has a couple of crop-tops which apparantly (and also according to her) fit fine she hasn't ever wanted to wear them.

Similarly, most of the girls are getting into make-up, hassling parents for shoes with heels, listening to pop music etc. Again dd actively isn't into this at all.

Now I'm struggling with how far I should encourage her to 'fit in' a bit to make her life easier. I have to say that I sometimes wear a croptop, sometimes not, and never a proper bra - and I've always said to dd that they are something you wear if you are more comfortable, but that there's no intrinsic biological reason that you 'need' one. Obviously she is more comfortable without so doesn't wear one! Similarly I don't wear (or indeed) own any makeup or high heeled shoes, not through philosophical objection but because I don't feel any desire for them. Ditto to not watching BGT, Strictly, I'm a Celeb etc - don't mind others watching them but don't want to myself.

Now I worry that dd is following my lead and is going to suffer for it . . . but then I would like her once she is an adult to wear/do all this stuff if she wants to, not because she feels she HAS to - so therefore I shouldn't encourage her just to do it to follow the crowd! Any help gratefully received . . .

amillionyears Tue 08-Jan-13 07:56:53

Same sorts of things happened in my children's school to some of the pupils,as each of my children got to Year 6. Several good long friendships broke up amongst some of the pupils. It is quite sad that that happens really.
Glad the next school is doing a good transition. And it is always easier in life when people can see the end of the tunnel in sight of something not so nice.
Sounds like DDs new school should be very right for her.
Good luck to you all.

Takver Tue 08-Jan-13 07:50:07

I think you're right, amillionyears. DD is going to the 'wrong' school, too (ie not the cool one!) and while she is quite comfortable that it is the right place for her I think that is part of the problem.

Fortunately they spend 5 weeks of the summer term on a transition course at secondary (which everyone says is fantastic for making new friends) so she only really has to hang out until Easter!

amillionyears Mon 07-Jan-13 22:18:01

Year 6 is a tricky school year.
They are outgrowing primary school, and somehow longstanding friendships often break up in this year which is sad.
Just to let you know, the term that has just started may turn out to be a hard term also. The term after, everyone is very aware that they are all going to move on, and they start having connections with the new school and things start getting exciting and nervy too.

Takver Mon 07-Jan-13 22:05:22

Thanks for your support Piccadilly and 5madthings smile I do worry that some of dd's classmates are being brought up with similar attitudes, which makes me rather sad, I really don't want her to see her body / developing into a woman as something to be ashamed of.

5madthings Mon 07-Jan-13 21:35:14

Given pineneedles views with regards to views on women on anither thread it doesnt suprise me that she/he thinks your dd should wear a bra.

Op your dd sounds lovely! You have lots if great advice on here and it sounds like you are doing a good job. smile

PiccadillyCervix Mon 07-Jan-13 21:23:12

Why would it be uncomfortable for other girls if she has visible boobs pine? confused

well, I don't normally post on this board, only lurk (you guys are very scarey!!) steppemum Do you really think so? I used to feel that way about FWR threads on mumsent but find it much more open and inviting to newbies and middle of the road types too now.

Takver Mon 07-Jan-13 21:14:31

"Also when she actually has boobs, what will happen in P.E when she has to get changed. It will be uncomfortable for herself and everyone around her."

She definitely does have boobs - but I don't see why this should be a problem? I guess she's not uncomfortable getting changed for PE any more than I am uncomfortable changing into my swimsuit at the pool (where of course everyone has to take everything off) - in both cases it is a single sex changing area. (Come to that one of their PE sessions this term is swimming.) They wear polo shirts, so no issues there.

PiccadillyCervix Mon 07-Jan-13 19:01:52

IN my experience all children will get bullied or picked on for something..unless they are the ones doing the bullying and the picking. It must be horrible to watch for you as the parent, but you are doing the right thing by teaching her to be comfortable in her own skin.

Pineneedlesandsuch Mon 07-Jan-13 18:18:44

It can be quite obvious when women aren't wearing bras but more so with young girls as they are wearing thin white school shirts, and as a teenager myself I always feel uncomfortable when around girls not wearing a bra as it is rather obvious in a school uniform. Also when she actually has boobs, what will happen in P.E when she has to get changed. It will be uncomfortable for herself and everyone around her.

SanityClause Sun 06-Jan-13 20:18:11

DD1 had a difficult time in Y6, for different reasons to your DD.

But as soon as she went to secondary school, she found new friends, who share her geeky interests.

BTW, MmeLindor, my two DDs (13 and 11) both like JumpMag. smile

MmeLindor Sun 06-Jan-13 20:04:45

Thanks, Kritiq for linking to Jump Mag.

If she hasn't read it, we had a couple of great contributions from girls of her age about the whole wearing make up and conforming to expectations, such as this one.

I don't think it is wrong to wear make up (I do myself, when I can be bothered) and I think it is totally fine for her to try out wearing a bra, or a cropped top if she wants to. It has to be her decision, not the pressure of others. I would encourage your DD to read this about bullying and controlling friendships and this article by an 11yo girl about bullying.

I was a misfit at school. The girl wearing the weird long trenchcoat cause I thought it looked cool. The girl who went to work as an aupair after school rather than working in a shop or an office. Who refused to go to Uni cause she didn't know what she wanted to do afterwards.

I can remember not fitting in, but also that it gave me the strength to go my own way and to do what I wanted. It is hard, but it is also really good for girls to go through this, because then they can be truly proud of their achievements.

btw, the 'misfits' in my class at school - they are the ones who are have interesting careers.

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Sun 30-Dec-12 01:31:56

I have a DS, no DDs, but I would thoroughly agree with the advice about developing out=of-school friendships and interests, just from hearing about the childhoods of younger friends. (am old and have a lot of 'nonconforming friends). It's really really really good for kids to be aware that the environment you're currently stuck in is not the whole world and that there are other potential friends and places to be out there...

ThreeBoostsOneGalaxy Sat 29-Dec-12 21:57:10

It isn't specifically about girls, but I read a good book called 'Bringing Up GEEKS: Genuine, Enthusiastic, Empowered Kids' by Marybeth Hicks. It's a bit American in style but lots of sensible advice and suggestions about bringing up children free from the more shallow aspects of cultural conditioning. Not specifically about fashion but how to keep them grounded so that peer acceptance is not the be all and end all.

Takver Sat 29-Dec-12 21:44:45

steppemum, I've made sure that dd does have crop tops that she could wear if she wanted, and have made it very clear that if she'd like to go and try on bras that would also be fine (I can't really buy those 'on spec'!) but she says she's perfectly comfortable without. In fact she does wear a crop top under one particular sweater dress that she finds scratchy. I think the only issue she has with changing for pe is the comments she's getting about not wearing a bra!

(She never wanted a vest under school polo shirts when younger, & I never pushed that either as the school is so hot even in winter.)

steppemum Sat 29-Dec-12 21:33:37

well, I don't normally post on this board, only lurk (you guys are very scarey!!) But I would feel very like you in this situation op/ my dd1 is only year 3 and not really a conformer, but she has asked for crop tops. It turned out that she wasn't comfortable changing for pe and wanted something under her shirt. I got her some basic 'short vest' type ones which she only wore on pe days. When the weather got colder she just started wearing vests. I hate this peer pressure to conform. I want her only to wear what she feels comfortable in and would not want to push her into bras at that age. However, as someone with big boobs, I would have been really uncomfortable without some thing once I started developing, so would want her to be able to wear one if it was more comfortable.

As to the make-up, high heels etc. I would be activley encouraging her not to conform, I hate it on girls so young. My neice age 12 has just got a pair of Doc Martins for christmas, and I said I hope my dds get into the DM look, as I can't stand girls in heels and short skirts. As I hardly wear make-up and never heels, I think she has a good role model!

Hopefully next year she will have a wider choice of friends and will gravitate to those she feels more in tune with.

Takver Sat 29-Dec-12 21:25:48

You all speak words of wisdom. I'll keep encouraging her on out-of-school friendships, sea cadets etc, and as you say secondary school should be a whole new ball game smile I think as well once we stop being in the depths of winter things will be easier as dd's main interests are sea based (surfing, life saving etc) and its easy to hang out on the beach with a crowd.

ThreeBoostsOneGalaxy Sat 29-Dec-12 21:20:01

When she goes to secondary school next September, presumably there'll be a wider range of children to interact with and potentially form friendships with. Your DD is more likely to find a group where she can be herself and still fit in. She will find things in common with some of them as there's a wider range of interests.

I would say keep doing what you're doing. Your DD sounds lovely to me and a refreshing change from the 'clones'.

madwomanintheattic Sat 29-Dec-12 21:16:51

grin a veritable dilemma!

Takver Sat 29-Dec-12 21:13:30

Maybe I sometimes worry that dd's wider context goes a bit far the other way. Our friends are all mainly eco / activisty / hippy types (we lived in a housing co-op til dd was 7, and still see a lot of the people there), and I think it would be fair to say that none of the women I socialise with regularly wears makeup, heels et al, and when it came out in conversation at a craft/social group I go to that one member had never tried a mooncup we were all shock

Actually, I think this is why I worry sometimes that poor dd isn't so much rejecting all this stuff as not actually having a clue that it is normal to do/wear/be it grin

madwomanintheattic Sat 29-Dec-12 19:58:10

I was an air cadet btw. I'm all for it. grin

madwomanintheattic Sat 29-Dec-12 19:55:41

She seems pretty grounded at the mo... But we've a lot of teen nonsense to get through yet, I'm sure!

We're quite lucky in that we live in a very outdoorsy athletic community, so there isn't the 'boys do, girls watch them and look purty' culture. There are lots of strong male and female role models (Olympians too) and a fair amount of them are in and out of the schools, etc. we have paralympians, too, so even dd2 is growing up in an atmosphere which celebrates and encourages personal achievement rather than limiting it by virtue of gender or (dis)ability.

I'm a bit of a party pooper as I place a lot more value on the cerebral, lol, but I do see it as a healthy (in both senses) culture. There is also a high value placed on both individual and corporate volunteering - so a healthy sense of community responsibility.

Am not bragging about living in utopia. grin just suggesting that wider context as well as immediate peer group is important. Takes a village, and all that...

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Sat 29-Dec-12 19:12:34

She sounds just like me. My teenage years weren't my happiest, although I don't think I was actually unhappy either. Its the time when you become yourself which is a lot simpler when you see your self image reflected back at you. I never did so I thought that there was something 'wrong'. I think I thought the others were growing up faster than me because they were interested in what I perceived of as adult things eg fashion and music and I pretended to have those interests because I genuinely thought I would grow into them. I didn't and I probably missed out on real friendships etc because I was wasting my time reading 'smash hits'. What saved me was having strong friendships outside of school so I could have something to focus on if school got too stressful. I went to a girls school but I didn't feel like a girl. I didn't feel like a boy either and I never wanted to be one but I knew I wasn't going to grow up to be the sort of woman that I knew and I haven't. Sea cadets sounds good. I think what I could have done with was an older girl (cooler than a mother, not that my mother ever went out without full slap and heels) to show me that there is more than one way to be a woman. That and the poetry of Andrea Gibson, which is mostly too old for a 10yo.

Takver Sat 29-Dec-12 18:38:01

"y6 - pressure to be the oldest and more mature in a known peer group"

I think that is very very true - and maybe hence the teasing of the less grown-up children in yr 6 from those who want to make the point that they are much more mature.

madwoman - your dd sounds really very sorted, using all this stuff to meet her needs rather than feeling she has to dress/behave a particular way - I hope dd can get to that stage smile

madwomanintheattic Sat 29-Dec-12 17:43:36

Blimey, I typed out the longest reply in the history of the world, and it got eaten.

In short - y6 - pressure to be the oldest and more mature in a known peer group. Y7 - pressure disappears as they are the youngest, and have a wider peer group to choose soulmates from.

I bought dd1 a selection of bras and crop tops last week. She's 13 in Jan, and does a lot of dance (she is a tapper, but does core ballet, jazz whatever as well). We discussed it and she said she was uncomfortable and sore with the jumping and tap. She asked if she should wear them all the time, and I said she should do whatever she is comfortable with.

I immediately and aaahed about that, but am content that she has a broad enough feminist base to make decisions based on whether she wants/ needs to, or whether she is choosing to do it to conform on any given situation. She's also pretty well developed - full complement of body hair, menstruating etc. she chooses to dance hairy year round, but shave her armpits during competition season. She wears heavy stage make up for competitions and recitals, but none the rest of the time. It's almost as though it has provided her with the link that this stuff is 'performance'. I may even be raising Judith frigging Butler. grin

She's a Pathfinder (part of guiding here) and they invited 'equal voice' to their last meeting before Christmas to discuss women in politics - I dug out some more recent books and suggested she read the women/ politics stuff (can't remember if. It was kat banyard or someone else who looked at the media issues 'best of Breastminster' etc).

This is a tricky age - and decisions now do have a huge impact on that whole 'compromise' piece. But it's tricky to know when the dd is able to differentiate between peer pressure and maternal pressure, in order to be able to truly make her own decisions, and be mature enough to recognise when she is compromising.... I'm pretty certain that my eldest dd is, but I know that dd2 (at 9) isn't. She's intellectually capable of the decision, but the necessity of doing so would upset her - she isn't yet at the point where she could look at it coolly enough, she would just cry. (And yEs, I know that's fair enough even in grown women who suddenly see their own life as one huge compromise. Dd2 is old beyond her years!)

TheSmallClanger Sat 29-Dec-12 17:05:47

Definitely encourage non-school friendships. As I always say, they are usually much less pressured at this age. I think Sea Cadets is an excellent place for her to seek out like-minded friends, as a sports team or something like Woodcraft Folk might be. (DH was a Woody for years). Does she also have cousins and friends of your old friends that she could socialise with?

Even if she doesn't end up having deep friendships with others at this stage, having some less pressured, less intimidating social space will be good for her.

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