I would never describe myself as girly. I wear makeup mostly to cover blemishes. I brush my hair in the morning and then forget about it. And while I wear dresses often, it’s mostly because wearing a dress means I don’t have to wear pants. Other than the occasional outing where I gussy up, I’m pretty low-maintenance. I think this is because, somewhere along the way, I learned that being girlie was somewhat frowned upon – that you were superficial and simple if you cared too much about your appearance. For the majority of my life I defaulted towards Tom Boy.
But somehow, I have birthed the girliest girl who ever girled. Annabel loves pink and bows and frills. She lives for all things princess, and would spend all day twirling in beautiful dresses if she could. She carefully picks out her clothes every day, and it’s typical for her to change at least twice. She is particular about how she wants to wear her hair, and don’t even get me started on her shoes.
At first, I thought this was really cute. I bought her all the Disney princess movies, indulged her with dress up clothes, and helped her put her outfits together. But as I watched her stand in front of the mirror every morning, admiring herself, I started to think, “Uh oh.”
I didn’t want her to think that how she looked was the be-all and end-all, so I steered her away from princesses and had her ride her bike more. I enrolled her in gymnastics and had her practice the moves that would help make her physically strong. I played games with her that would help her learn her letters and numbers, then read her stories and asked her questions about what she heard.
I also stopped letting her change her clothes a few times a day, or have much of a say in what she wore. I didn’t let her linger in front of mirrors, or primp. And I noticed that she wasn’t as happy. I asked her to describe her ideal day to me. What activities would she want to do? She wanted to dress up, and twirl, and do gymnastics, and read books, and play with her hair. “I love dress up and pretending, Mama. But you don’t, so I won’t do it.”
That broke my heart. I realized that there was nothing wrong with playing dress up and wanting to look pretty, if that’s what makes you happy. I just have to make sure she has other things that make her happy, too. So today we put on dresses and did somersaults. I read her books and then we twirled in the mirror. We put on nail polish and then I watched her ride her bike in our cul-de-sac. Later we’ll play pretend (“Mama, I will wear my doctor clothes and you will be my patient.”), and we’ll wrap up the day cuddled together on the couch to watch whatever movie her heart desires.
Being girlie sometimes can be kind of fun.