Yesterday I put Emma in a pink layered ruffled skirt. When I put it on she said,
"Yay, ballet skirt!" Then stood up, steadied herself against her dresser and lifted her leg in the air behind her. Later in the day she steadied herself against the couch and pointed her toe out in front of her.
I had several different reactions:
1. I was super impressed that she could connect the pink frilly skirt with ballet.
2. I was impressed with her coordination.
3. I was totally chagrined because it's so girly.
Dancers are amazing athletes. Ballet is a beautiful art form and is challenging. Why would I care?
Okay I know that my daughter watches way more television than she should. One of the shows that she watches is Angelina Ballerina. This is probably where she got the ballerina idea.
I have been reading the book Packaging Girlhood. In the book the two authors took the time to research all the available toys and media that are being presented for our daughters again and again. A few of the elements of girl centered media that they saw again were incredibly discouraging: a lack of female characters on cartoons and shows, an over-emphasis on appearance, toys that prepare women for house and home and not career, a lack of healthy female relationships, the list goes on...
My mother-in-law is a nurse and during 'Nurse's Appreciation Week' she recieved a purse kit of a brush and mirror, she gave them to me for Emma. I took them happily because she was getting enough hair that I was starting to think I should start brushing it, the mirror I was happy for because I had wanted a mirror when I was a girl.
The other day Scott came out of Emma's room holding our girl, she was holding her 'purse,' the mirror, and a pink cell phone. What have we done?
For awhile I saw the mirror just as a developmental need for self identification. Now I wonder if I am teaching her to focus on her appearance.
Both my husband and I have cell phones. The pink is the manufacturer's fault. But why did they make it pink?
Emma has a little washer that she puts things in, a friend gave it to us. I thought is was a strange toy, who wants to play at doing laundry? Then I noticed that she did put things in it and play with it. I read it as developmental, toddlers like to stick things in things. They just do.
I do the laundry in our house. It's the only thing I am a control freak about.
She also plays at washing dishes. My husband washes most of the dishes in the house. So maybe she just imitating what she sees regardless of who is doing it.
Emma also pretends to be a pirate and can dunk a basketball in the hoop that hangs from the back of a chair.
My goal with Emma is to encourage her on what ever path she chooses. Cheerleader or basketball player. Ballerina or Pirate. The thing about the book that bothered me the most was as I read I saw stereotypes and images that had harmed me growing up. This idea that the only thing that made me worth anything was being uber-beautiful. I'm honest enough to know that I am no supermodel, for years I felt that I had to look like that to attract a mate. Through becoming more and more athletic I focused on what I could 'do' rather than what I looked like, and became more and more happy with my body. (Who cares what size I am I just ran six miles!) This is my hope for my daughter that if she does pursue dance she does it because she loves what she can do, not because they get to wear pretty costumes.