Sunday, August 14, 2011

Girl, conflicted

I am a girly-girl.  This is a not a surprise to anyone who reads this blog from time to time.  I love the pretty stuff.   Big-time love.  Feel prettiest, sexiest, fetchingest, whathaveyou in lacy things, heels, make-up and other sundry variations of girly-girl-ish gear.  But my love of 'the girly' is not without a constant wrestling match between my very entrenched love of the gear and my also very entrenched discomfort with the messaging that girls and women are sold along with the gear.  (You can never be too: thin * docile * silent * pretty * sexy * young * helpless * helpful* sweet * agreeable * etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum).  It's some tricky shit, this loving of prettiness and this hating of the sexist and heteronormative messaging and expectations that tend to get packaged with it in public discourse.

I may or may not have mentioned before that our Girlio is fast showing signs of following in her mama's girly footsteps, at least for the time being.  She chooses dresses over pants every time, drools over my heels (and sometimes destroys them),  has starting trying to put on my make-up (baby drag-queen, ayone?) and attempting (clumsily and dangerously) to use my tweezers.  And though part of me is all 'awwww shucks, my baby's emulating me,' another (much larger) part of me seriously balks at the shoving of dominant versions of femininity at little girls.   I balk at the pinkness of "girl" clothes, despite pink being my favourite colour.  I chose pink as my favourite colour.  She should get to choose too, but the world doesn't seem to want to give her that choice.  I love heels and fancy shoes.  I get seriously pissed off when I try to buy Girlio shoes and all I can find in the toddler 'girl' section is uncomfortable, blingy and often heeled shoes.  FOR TODDLERS!  Seriously. Who dresses their toddler in platform-ish heeled flipflops and little wee heels?  'Cause that's going to be really comfy at the park.  How about some running shoes with the same support and comfort as the shoes in the toddler 'boy' section?  Cause, you know, those toddlers, they like to run and stuff.   I cannot stand the fact that when shopping for simple things, like say t-shirts, it is rather difficult to find one that doesn't say something revolting, like "cutie pie," "pretty," "diva," or something equally vomitous.  (Than goodness for big brother hand-me-downs!).  I hate with a passion that the very first thing people are likely to say about my Girlio is that she is, so "pretty."  She is a beautiful child.  Don't get me wrong.  But she is also insanely clever, a total ham, and pretty fucking feisty.  All of which are perfectly, you know, comment worthy.

I love the fact that Girlio (and Boy-o, naturally) has one butch and one femme parent, and many other people who do not present dominant versions of gender in various ways.  I very much hope that they will grow up knowing that not all women are girly, not all men are boy-y and that there are many, many shades of in-between-ness, all of which are okay.

But I struggle sometimes,with watching Girlio emulate my girlyness and girly rituals.  I wince when she picks up my tweezers and tries to pluck her eyebrows (for reasons other than the fact that she could easily take out an eye!).  I grimace when she gets into my make-up or pretends to shave her legs (not with a razor - nobody call CAS!). 

But in the end, I think (at least I hope) that my struggle will keep me thinking, critical and more aware of the messaging I am passing on about my version(s) of femininity. 


  1. When my daughter was little, I shopped mostly in the toddler boy section. Lots of jeans and plain t shirts. I was revolted by the pink, sparkly stuff with sayings on it, and yeah, it was always princess or queen or whatever..

    I always hated that without every really analyzing why.

    She ended up going through a pink and girly phase from about 4 to 7, and now at 18, prefers clothing that is not gender specific.

    But I didn't direct any of it except for when she was really small, because there was something that just stopped me from buying slutwear for her.

    Maybe your girl is destined to be girly? It sounds like she's opinionated enough already to be able to figure it out fairly well.


  2. Oh, and I should add my son wore a tutu and a cape and carried around a baby doll until he was about seven or eight years old. He nursed his baby when I nursed mine, he didn't like high heels because they're hard to walk in, and despite predictions from my father and both my brothers that was raising him to be gay, he's not.

    But I never worried about his orientation, either.

  3. Tash - you choose pink and love the girly. It is an informed choice you make, and I know you support the process of individual selection! You turned out ok. I have no doubt Girlo will too!

  4. I was dressed super girly by my mom, had the long hair, and did pretty much every girly extra-curricular activity known to woman. I was bullied for it (and I'm not just talking school kids... I think my women and gender studies course mates were worse). After a few years of trying to look different, less feminine, I came to a moderately comfortable acceptance. Sometimes I go hardcore girly and other times (ie work) I let the other sides show. Girlio already shows signs that she is some tough stuff. She will find her equilibrium.