Entry 28 ~ March 18, 2011
Pretty in Pink
This might come off as more of a soap box ranting rather than a journal about every day life with my family, but certainly worthy discussion, even if I am only discussing it with my keyboard. I recently came across an article by Peggy Orenstein. Actually, it was an older article, published in 2006 in the New York Times, entitled "What's Wrong With Cinderella?" Orenstein also authored a book recently published called "Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the new Girlie-Girl Culture," which I have not read. But in becoming acquainted with Peggy Orenstein's feminist motherhood, I find that I truly respect her, but I disagree with her feelings on the whole princess thing and feel like the whole issue may be vaguely blown out of proportion.
I have two daughters, identical twins, raised in the same environment, at the same time, under the same circumstances. They look alike, but they are oh-so different. Reese likes pink and there is no way around it. She likes frill and foof. She runs with a graceful prance, her curls bouncing. She likes lipstick and nail polish and pretty hair. Reagan on the other hand, likes red, but pink too, and blue and lots of other colors, for that matter. She likes playing ball and when she runs, I envision her one day sliding into home plate in a plume of dust and dirt. She doesn't care if her hair is pretty or if it's in her face…depends on her mood. She swings a baseball bat like a boy, while Reese throws like a girl.
I have bigger concerns than whether my daughters want to wear pink and whether they want to be princesses. I know that Disney is marketing this stuff, and it's not to turn little girls into pink princesses, it's to make a buck. My concerns are far greater than whether my daughters want to be princesses. I don't want my daughters watching the oh-so-cute cartoon "Rugrats" because I don't want them to emulate nasty Angelica, who calls people "stupid," and behaves in a rude manner to everyone around her. I will do everything I can to protect my daughters from the pressures of society that continually portray women as "thin is better." I want to teach them to love their body with all its imperfections. I'll do the best I can to protect them from the influences of the mass media, this society of sex, drugs and violence.
Good old Ann Landers said it well, when she said, "It is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings."
When I was growing up, it was my job to wash dishes, vacuum and dust. I learned to cook and sew buttons and properly wash a toilet. My brothers were commissioned to empty the garbage, mow the lawn and stack wood. What these assigned tasks accomplished was defining very gender specific roles in our household at a young age.
I expect all of my children to complete a variety of chores. Reese and Reagan will be emptying trash, as well as cleaning and cooking for that matter. Brody and Treyton will know how to cook and do laundry. Every autumn, our entire family spends a weekend outside doing yard clean up, one and all. Last fall we had Treyton bundled in a car carrier placed in a wagon, and we hauled him around the yard, while Reese and Reagan had miniature rakes, and Brody helped haul leaves. It's a team effort.
I seem to have completely digressed from my initial ranting. I guess my point is, that I don't care if either or both of my daughters love princess and pink and all things frilly. What is most important as a mom, is to craft them into strong, independent young women. If Reese wants to wear pink every day of her life, so be it, provided that she helps in the house, can check the oil in her vehicle (someday, in the far far-away future), and becomes the person I hope and expect that she and her sister will be: trustworthy, confident, upstanding, faithful, God-fearing, loving and kind. Not to say I don't expect bumps in the road along the way, with all the kids, but my wish for my daughters has less to do with princesses and everything to do with who they become.
Last week, after Reese, enchantedly watched Cinderella for the 264th time, as Cinderella and Prince Charming glided down the cascading stairs after marrying each other at the end of the movie, and were whisked away in a fancy carriage . . . she asked, "mommy, where they going?" Good question, Reesie.
Happy third birthday girls, my beautiful little princesses.