Am I wrong to let my daughter enjoy being girly then?

(210 Posts)
pictish Tue 08-Oct-13 10:28:33

DD is four - she will be five in Feb. I have two sons as well.

I have never encouraged or acknowledged a marked differentiation between the sexes, regards their interests and clothing. I always steered away from that stuff, letting them make their own minds up.

However, dd has embraced girliness wholeheartedly. She loves pink, and dresses, and My Little Pony and all things sparkly. In the interests of autonomy, and cultivating her own tastes, I don't mind it in the least.

I am starting to feel though, that through reading MN, unless she is playing football in bovver boots, I am doing her a disservice.
My mil (who is lovely really) is rolly eyed about all things pink and girly, and can't resist from making little comments about it. "Oh that's a very fancy dress" (sarcastic).

I have explained that the girliness is her own choice, and just what she happens to like, but I think it goes over her wants to think it's me pushing this onto her. It isn't.

I sometimes wonder if, in the quest for equality, we sometimes go too far the other way, and heap scorn upon girls who want to be girly? I feel the need to defend my dd's right to love pink and sparkly, as it is now heralded as so deeply uncool.

I thought it was all about offering choices...but nowadays (particularly on MN) it seems as though a girl being girly is a failure.


Bonsoir Tue 08-Oct-13 10:30:44

MN has a strand of radical feminist censorship that is very distasteful.

It is more than fine for your DD to enjoy being a girl and woman.

Pootles2010 Tue 08-Oct-13 10:31:43

I haven't seen any scorn heaped on girls for being girly, rather on toy shops etc for trying to engineer it.

No problem with your daughter liking sparkly things - just as i have no problem with ds liking them.

pictish Tue 08-Oct-13 10:32:04

That's what I think Bonsoir. I agree.

RippingYarns Tue 08-Oct-13 10:32:58

for me, it's not about what a girl/woman wears, it's about restrictions based on her gender

as long as she has equal opportunity to do/wear anything, that's fine

and yes, i include positive discrimination in 'opportunity'

PersonalClown Tue 08-Oct-13 10:33:28

If it truly is her choice and not been encouraged from anyone (apart from the incessant advertising) then it's more than ok.

I believe that Feminism is the choice to be as you wish. She chooses to be 'girly'

pictish Tue 08-Oct-13 10:34:13

Exactly right PersonalClown.

noblegiraffe Tue 08-Oct-13 10:35:06

Nothing wrong with sparkles and pink so long as it doesn't go hand in hand with a belief that you aren't as good/strong/clever as a boy and need rescuing.

TheFabulousIdiot Tue 08-Oct-13 10:35:39

Well, she can only choose from what you buy her I suppose so you must be making some choices about what she has available to her?

Does she watch TV and mix with other children? Because even that will have an effect given that as a whole society and culture pushes the whole pink girlie thing.

I don't think you need to worry at all about things going too far the other way - that would be practically impossible given how so much of what we see is geared towards girls being a certain way. It's surprising you haven't noticed it but you really shouldn't worry - girlie girls are never going to be denied the chance to be aware of what 'girlie' is.

BurberryQ Tue 08-Oct-13 10:36:02

I have never seen any scorn heaped on girls here for liking pink stuff or indeed for not wanting to 'play football in bovver boots' , more for shops for only offering genderised (if there is such a word) clothes/toys, as pootles said.
I am proud of my daughter for studying engineering but also for knowing how to do her make-up nicely.....
my proudest moment came when she punched a boy in the face for tweeking her nipple in an engineering class grin

LaurieFairyCake Tue 08-Oct-13 10:36:39

I think 'choice' is a useless word here given the sheer volume of pink fluffy shit.

We get conditioned to like it - I know I like sparkly shoes, sparkly jewellery, swishy shit.

But I also know I'm conditioned to like it.

pictish Tue 08-Oct-13 10:41:03

Well, she can only choose from what you buy her I suppose so you must be making some choices about what she has available to her? An example....all three of mine were given a tenner each from a relative recently. I took them to spend it. She chose a My Little Pony, and was adamant about it.

I buy them toys that I think they will like and play with, not toys that are deemed acceptable by other people.

Bonsoir Tue 08-Oct-13 10:45:45

At 5 many children have pretty clear tastes.

My DD, memorably, tore a jacket that my DP had picked out for her at Bonpoint from his arms at the cash desk and threw it to the floor. She was not yet 2. Her tastes were clear!

BuffytheAppleBobber Tue 08-Oct-13 10:46:50

The difficulty is, we can't really know what are "natural" choices and what are socialised. What I dislike are:

1. The culture that steers girls, all girls, towards pink, sparkly, fairy princess things. This is in shops, TV, magazines, everywhere.

2. The fact that being pink and sparkly is looked down upon. The pink version is never as practical or adaptable or creative as the 'boy' version. <hard stare at Lego Friends>

So no, I wouldn't criticise you or your dd for liking what you like (I don't know if you count me as one of the hard line rad fems here?). I also wear heels on occasion and my dd likes Barbie films. She also plays football and wants a birthday cake that's a muddy pitch (chocolate) with a female player about to score a goal.

The fact that I feel some weird pride that she's not all about the sparkle ponies and fairy wings tells me all I need to know about the extent to which girls are fed this type of stuff and at the same time despised for liking it.

Maybe I am making no sense now confused

EdithWeston Tue 08-Oct-13 10:48:22

I think the sheer scale of Pinkification does mean that it's an area which needs attention.

Not to limit what a DC (of either sex) chooses, but to ensure they have a range of opportunities and do not find their natural inclinations are inhibited by social pressures.

I don't remember ever seeing a flat 'deny them' post on MN. I have seen lots saying 'think about what you're doing and strive for balance'.

pictish Tue 08-Oct-13 10:51:24

Does she watch TV and mix with other children? Because even that will have an effect given that as a whole society and culture pushes the whole pink girlie thing.

I agree...but what am I to do about that, other than teach her that there are other choices, and she is in no way obliged to kowtow to gender stereotyping...which I do. She's happy to play with all sorts, and does...but there is no doubt that given a free choice she will opt for pink shit.
I do view it as a result of conditioning, of course, but it is not conditioning that has come from me, but from external sources, such as her friends at nursery.

I wonder if flying in the face of that would be to limit her own choice...iyswim?

Coupon Tue 08-Oct-13 10:53:02

> I haven't seen any scorn heaped on girls for being girly, rather on toy shops etc for trying to engineer it.

I agree with Pootles2010. I have no problem with any children playing with any toys they like, and haven't seen anyone say anything against it.

But I don't like biased assumptions and marketing which steer girls or boys towards what someone else has decided is the "right" kind of toy for boys or girls.

Grennie Tue 08-Oct-13 10:55:01

Of course if she wants to buy a my little pony, let her. Just make sure taht she knows she can have a range of toys and clothes. And if she is into princesses and the like, buy her some books that are about strong and capable princesses, not ones that constantly need to be rescued by princes.

Hardline radical feminist here. I have seen so many negative comments about radical feminists on mumsnet and don't really understand it? hmm

PoopMaster Tue 08-Oct-13 10:55:33


I'm a Guide leader and often have to justify (to DH amongst others) why girls need their own space to be girls, without this sort of pressure to somehow show your gender neutral credentials. Girls are just people and people have different interests, and some of them include pink/baking/makeup while others prefer football/outdoor adventure etc. We try to balance all these interests without saying to anyone that theirs are more valid in any way.

It's a good idea to explore why we have these interests (and where the influences come from) and we do that to some extent, but it would be a sad day if we had to start discouraging them for being "too pink".

(TBF DH always says "why can't boys who like this stuff join the Guides then like girls have joined the Scouts?" but that is a whole other discussion)

gordyslovesheep Tue 08-Oct-13 10:57:19

course it's fine to let kids play with the things they choose - I find the issue arises mainly the other way in our house.

2 of my 3 girls are quiet 'traditional' and do gravitate to make up, hair stuff, pink, little animals, dolls etc

my middle girl plays football, likes sciencey things, animals - in the getting dirty caring for them sense, moshy monsters, 'boys' computer games - which inlaws constantly try and change .

that irks me muchly

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 08-Oct-13 10:58:06

Of course you're not doing her a disservice.

There have been debates on here before saying precisely what you're saying - that it's really important not to equate saying 'it's a pity society pushes pink at little girls so much' with saying 'therefore pink is bad and we should make little girls feel bad about wearing it'.

I think it is part of a bigger problem, not just about pink. Your MIL's sneering at fancy dresses and pink is not so very far aware from the sort of people who comment that a little boy who cries is being a 'big girl's blouse', or who use 'girly' as an insult. A friend of mine was pointing out the other day that she's really uncomfortable with people using the word 'tomboy' for her DD, because it implies that these ways of behaving her DD has are boyish, rather than (as with your DD), just what she happens to like.

IMO it has to be a pretty basic part of feminism to accept that being 'girly' or 'boyish' are just behaviours, and one is not better than the other!

Viviennemary Tue 08-Oct-13 10:58:23

It should be a choice. My Mum hated pink. I was hardly ever ever allowed anything pink.

pictish Tue 08-Oct-13 11:03:15

I'm not trying to be antagonistic btw - this is something I have been pondering for a while.

I was moved to start this thread because I bumped into mil this morning on the way to nursery. Dd is wearing a pink dress with a netting tutu skirt today...and mil could not help herself from making the usual catty observations about that.
"Oh I'm sure you'll have to be very careful not to spoil such a lovely dress at nursery, by climbing or getting paint on it" - the onus being that the dress is impractical and silly. The dress was £8 and made of stretchy jersey, so it's comfortable, and I don't care if it gets painty or torn.
She just sees pink, and assumes I must be a facile ninny, when in fact I think it is she who is being narrow minded...iyswim?

pictish Tue 08-Oct-13 11:06:33

And if she is into princesses and the like, buy her some books that are about strong and capable princesses, not ones that constantly need to be rescued by princes.

Oh I do, I do!

My main concern is that my daughter be assertive. If she wears pink to be assertive in, what does it matter?

I am dead against gender stereotyping...I swear.

LRDtheFeministDragon Tue 08-Oct-13 11:07:09

Yes, I totally see.

My mum will be like that. hmm

I wonder if maybe they're similar ages? My mum grew up in the 60s/70s and she is definitely conditioned by that idea that you should raise your girl children to be boyish and tough and that this is somehow a good thing. I suppose it's what leads to those ridiculous blokey power suits in the 80s. grin

Do you ever pick her up on it?

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