Growing up in the ’90s meant a lot of things. It was a time of grunge, it was a time where things started getting more open, and it was a time where women began to shed being “girly” and opted more for being one of the guys. Being overly feminine at the time was often looked down upon and seen as going a step backwards for the feminist movement (even though my 15-year-old self had no idea what being a feminist meant). I held onto this ideal well into adulthood, and when I became pregnant with my daughter, I was determined to keep my “non-girly” ideals intact.
I searched for clothes that were not made of ruffles or pink, and created a registry full of green and yellow. My aunts would call me and say, “I thought you were having a girl?” to which I would proudly say, “Yes, I am. But we’re staying away from pink because we don’t want her to be too girly.” Right then and there, I truly believe my daughter made her decision from the womb to be the girliest girl in the whole world.
My daughter was a healthy and happy baby, and as she grew from baby to toddler, she developed a strong, vibrant personality of her own. This personality of hers? Oh, it came with some style. One day, just before she turned 3, I awoke to find she had dressed herself for the day. She had picked the lone pink, ruffle-filled dress (with a splash of glitter to boot—a gift from grandma), paired it with mommy’s work heels, and had somehow found my lipstick and applied it all over her lips, cheeks, and chin. As I took in the entire look, she smiled up at me and declared, “Mommy! I’m a princess now!” It took me an hour to talk her out of her outfit and clean up her “makeup” but it didn’t end there. Her taste and style grew daily, asking me to buy her more dresses with glitter and bows. She turned down all jeans and preferred dresses paired with leggings and a frilly headband to match.
As I watched my daughter transform into a girl that adores princesses, pink, glitter, dresses, and shoes, I let go of what my original vision was of a strong female. I started to buy myself more dresses and found myself playing “princess” and “tea” with my girl. At 5 years old, my daughter already knows what took me over 30 years to realize: that being a strong female doesn’t mean you can’t embrace your feminine side. All it takes to be a strong, smart female is always being true to yourself and knowing who you are inside. It’s the first of what I am sure to be many, many, MANY lessons she will teach me . . . but it’s the one I know we’ll share for a lifetime.