I’m not what you might call a girly-girl. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve worn a dress, voluntarily. So when we delivered our first girl, I was determined not to fall into the gender stereotypes that clothes perpetuate.
Most clothing stores offer a large selection of gender neutral items fit for newborns making shopping easy.
However, as my daughter grew older I found shopping for her much harder. Instead of purchasing clothes based on my child’s size, I was now separated into a gender specific area of the store. And this split is obvious just by looking at the clothes: frilly dresses and spring pastels for girls, sports and jungle colours for boys.
I’m not saying I wanted to dress my daughter as a boy, but I’ve seen the way adults interact with kids based on the outfit they’re wearing. Sundresses brought out the sweet talking women, commenting on how cute my daughter is. Denim overalls brought out the louder men, commenting on how well my daughter climbs or runs, though usually she’s mistaken for a boy.
But now my little girl is approaching 7. I have little say in what she wears now and haven’t for some time actually. I have to compete with friends, magazines, TV shows and just regular people on the street and of all those, I think I’m last on her reference list.
That might seem worrying and at first loosing my ability to ‘dress’ my daughter was a little disappointing. But if I step back and look at her I must admit I’m quite impressed. She’s entering a stage in her life where she’s trying to balance her girly, boy-lov’n, jewelry wearing side with her active, creative, free-thinking side and I think it shows in the clothes she chooses to wear. And it’s not just what she wears, but how she wears it. She combines things that I wouldn’t think of. Her favourite combination of late is a ‘twirly’ (aka, skirt) over pants. I try hard to not criticize, which I’m finding sometimes can be harder to do than I thought. But as long as she has parts of her body covered that a seven year old shouldn’t have hanging out, than I’m pretty happy.
I’d like to think her creative flare with clothes is because of the initial effort I made in dressing her, by not making her into a doll that people only viewed as cute and precious. But who am I kidding. She’s an outgoing, beautiful girl that attracts friends easily, but it’s her fun personality that keeps them. I can only hope that she has the courage to maintain her creative flare as she gets older and the outside world influences her more. And I hope I have the courage to let her.