Is it okay to dress my daughter up as a princess?

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I am a Feminist.

Pure and simple. Always have been and always will be. From as long as I had the ability to understand what the hell that was, I knew I was one.

For those of you who are still unsure on what being a feminist actually is, it is nothing more complex than this:

I BELIEVE MEN AND WOMEN ARE EQUAL.

Yes, there are numerous variations of feminism – there are different sub-categories of feminism which have been adapted to suit the different sub-categories of women that exist (i.e. black feminism for black women as an even further marginalised group who have their own specific cultural needs). BUT the basic principle across all feminism is that women are no less than men, and should not be treated as less than men.

I have obviously adapted MY version of feminism for me – there are certain ideas that I subscribe to, such as being against gender stereotyping, and there are ideas that I don’t subscribe to, such as the radical feminists’ view that men are scum (though there are many men, and probably as many women, who are scum, but it’s not a gender thing).

Gender stereotyping, for those of you that don’t know or think I’m a bit “PC gone mad”, is basically that boys and girls from BIRTH should not be told or encouraged to act a certain way, dress a certain way or play with certain toys because of the genitals that are between their legs. Why is that important to me? Because somehow, even as a child, being a girl is still seen as being less.

Think about it… I bet you’ve all heard these phrases tons of times that normalise certain behaviours depending on whether it’s a boy or a girl that is the one behaving that way:

  • “Boys will be boys” – often used as an excuse for them being little shits, reinforcing the idea that boys and men are, characteristically because of their genitals, little shits.
  • “Man up”/”Grow some balls” etc. – implying that men are stronger emotionally. On a side note, this one is actually quite damaging for men’s mental health – no wonder suicide is the biggest killer of young men when from SUCH A YOUNG AGE we tell them that because they are men, they are not allowed to display feelings.
  • “She’s bossy” – when have you ever called a man bossy? Trick question, you don’t – a man is assertive, not bossy. Same behaviour, completely different word association, tone and meaning based on what bits are between their legs.
  • “She’s a bit of a tomboy” – god forbid a girl “acts like a boy”… Getting messy, being boisterous, loud, active, loving the outdoors – these are all qualities we associate with boys, and if a girl exhibits them, she’s not a girl anymore, she’s gained this new “tomboy” identity, whatever the hell that is.

So why does this bother me so much?

Well, it always has – I hated being called a tomboy when I was little. I was a girl, who liked playing football. When I found out I was having a girl, I didn’t immediately go and start buying tons and tons of pink stuff. Yes, I bought some, if I liked it, but ultimately I tried to find bright or neutral coloured clothes, and I found one particular range of unisex clothing I absolutely adore. Little Bird by Jools, stocked by Mothercare, if you’re interested.

I point blank refused to buy Olivia a baby and a pram, until one day at baby group she toddled over to find one on her own and enjoyed playing with them, so we got her one for home. I did not want to have that as an option for her to play with at home before she’d even shown an interest with it simply because she’s a girl. Similarly, I refuse to buy her toy hoovers, irons, kitchens etc., because these are ALL targeted at girls! Come on people, we are a progressive society, why should my daughter be restricted to playing with these toys which basically just reinforce the idea that only girls can do the cooking or the cleaning? IT’S 2019 FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, PUT SOME BOYS ON THE BOXES AND USE LESS PINK. Also I want her to have higher aspirations in life than spending all day doing the bleeding ironing.

Equally, if I’d had a boy, I wouldn’t have stocked my house full of action men. If he’d wanted a toy baby and pram, I’d have got him one the same as I did for Olivia. If he’d wanted a football for the garden, I’d have got him one the same as I did for Olivia.

So why oh why have I bought my daughter so many princess dresses, you ask? (SERIOUSLY she has like 20 of them!)

Well, because she wants them. At the age of 2 going on 12, she has decided that she LOVES dressing up, in particular, dressing up as a princess from any and all of her favourite Disney movies. She can be Snow White, Rapunzel, Belle, Elsa, Anna, Cinderella, Merida… Whoever she wants to be!

You may have seen Kiera Knightley talking about how she doesn’t want her daughter watching certain princess movies, and I’m minded to agree. I hate her watching Snow White (mostly because it’s boring, not gonna lie), but also, she watches Mulan and Brave and Tangled as much as she watches the others, and those are hella FEMINIST (way to go, Disney!)

The point is – I will never teach her to aspire to marry a prince, but by dressing up as whoever she wants to be, whoever her idols are at this phase in her life, I’m teaching her that she can be whatever she wants to be.

She loves dinosaurs equally as much as she loves princesses. Her favourite book is about a penguin who learns to swim by taking a brave leap of faith into a huge, scary ocean. Her second favourite book is about a witch and wizard becoming a dragon and a dinosaur and having a battle of who can have the best costume to a fancy dress party. Why would I stifle that imagination?

So, yes, I’m a feminist, and my daughter will grow up a feminist, knowing she can be whatever she wants to be, whether that’s a princess, a dinosaur, the Prime Minister, or a nurse.

What are your views on gender stereotyping? Do you try to actively avoid it in your home as well?

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Sarah

I am well on my way to becoming a barrister, and hope that one day my little munchkin will follow in my footsteps! I'm also a wife to a Grenadier Guard dealing with army life, and I write letters to Olivia as well as writing for the amazing blog we run over at www.mummykind.com

18 thoughts on “Is it okay to dress my daughter up as a princess?

  1. I’m raising my kid to be genderfull. He’s amab, and we used male pronouns but he’s definitely himself. He loved cars, tractors, everything with wheels – while wearing leggings and tutus. These are the things he wants, and I just want him to be happy. That’s what important. Also, he has a play kitchen #kcacols

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    1. Amazing! I always say I’d be exactly the same if I had a little boy – he’d have princess dresses if he wanted to, he’d have a football if he wanted one. I’m happy to let my kids make those decisions, after all, they’re not harming anyone! Thank you for commenting 🙂

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  2. Raising children is complicated, and even more so recently. But I believe you should encourage interests, and your daughter seems to love beautiful fabrics and sparkly things and dinosaurs, and that’s not wrong. It’s great to have interests!

    Encourage her to do well at reading and writing and math and studying when she is older – don’t accept the phrases like “girls aren’t good at math” as an excuse for not having to work hard at studies, but allow encourage interests and imagination as well.

    I’ve always wondered why a girl’s interest in princesses are rarely grounded in an interest in history – Henry the 8th’s wives didn’t fair very well, for example, nor Marie Antoinette, but Disney princesses are much more “real” to little kids. What does that say? Don’t look at me for answers, but it is ironic, isn’t it?

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  3. I’ve ranted on this before and really wish the clothing options for my daughter were more varied but as she’s gotten older I’ve found her tastes to be all over the place. Tea parties in dresses one day, fighting dragons in a suit of armor the next. I love it and think that pushing them away from what might be considered traditionally girly stuff doesn’t do them any favors. I think that the most important part is that they get to choose #KCACOLS

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    1. Yes – you’re so right! At the moment my daughter loves anything sparkly and glittery, but equally loves playing football and getting mucky. Having a choice is a privilege and I want her to make the most of it! Thanks for commenting

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  4. We have always let our little girl like what she likes. She was into volcanoes and dinosaurs at 3, and now she’s into princesses and orcas (separately!). As long as she’s happy, I don’t mind what she’s interested in. As she grows, we will make sure that she knows she has the potential to be anything she likes! #kcacols

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  5. My son had a dolly and my one year old daughter wore all his old clothes till recently though now she has lots of pink clothes but that’s what people buy. My favourite top of hers says little princess but princess is crossed out to say doctor. Both of my two watch Disney and as you say if they want to dress up like a princess I’ll be happy for her to, equally if she wants to dress up as an astronaut xx #KCACOLS

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  6. I totally agree with you, my boys are very into “boys things” but when they were toddlers they loved having a pushchair each and pushing around their teddies in them! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time.

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  7. My children do play with stereotypical toys for their sex but we haven’t forced that upon them – they know that they can be whatever they want to be in life and we will support them whatever. They do often play with each others toys too (we have a boy and a girl) so I guess it just all about choice. #KCACOLS

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  8. I couldn’t agree with you more. When my boys were little I stayed in the neutral column as well until they showed interest in other things. My youngest loved playing with race cars when he was a toddler and preschooler but he also loved for me to polish his nails sometimes. I did it because he was little. We shouldn’t be putting those pressures on our kids when they are so small. Let them come to whatever they are going to be, naturally. #MMBC

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