Warning: This post has nothing to do with keeping kosher, nor with doing it on a budget!
My daughter is turning two at the end of the month, as those of you on Facebook may already know. I had asked for some advice on what to get her – and you all had loads of great ideas.
One suggestion struck me in particular: Dress-up jewelry. Every morning, my daughter reaches for the pin on our preschool director’s lapel, and she is constantly pulling at my mom’s earrings and necklaces. Plus, since the only jewelry I wear is my engagement ring and wedding band, I thought some sparkly stuff of her own might be kind of fun.
I jumped over to Amazon and searched for play jewelry for toddlers. I scanned the first three pages of offerings and gave up. Almost every single item was excruciatingly “girly”. Pink. Plastic. Disney Princess.
As I tried to figure out why I was having such a visceral reaction to the jewelry selection, I realized (yet again) that as a mom to two older sons, I REALLY prefer the stereotypically boy stuff.
When my daughter was first born, people – including random strangers at the post office – kept saying, “Oh, you finally got your girl!” (ANNOYING), usually followed by “You are going to LOVE dressing her!”
While I will admit that some of the little dresses are very cute, I put my foot down at bibs that declare, Diva in Training, or onesies that ask, Does this make my tush look big?.
Still today, I bristle at the racks of pink tutus at Costco. Must every girl own a tutu? And don’t even get me started on the “skinny” jeans … or the ones that are cut to make her look like she has hips.
Even when it comes to toys, my daughter has nothing that’s overtly girly. Whether it’s my counter-cultural streak or some hang-up I’ve got against gender stereotypes, I’m just not comfortable in the pink aisles at the store.
Instead she has wooden trains, chunky puzzles, a wooden kitchen – with nice, gender-neutral wooden play food (from Plan Toys), a number of dollies and oodles of balls and MegaBlocks. But these were all toys that my sons had first, and passed down to their sister.
She did get her own baby doll for her Chanukah, but then so did my boys at that age. And it was a woolen Waldorf number – hardly something fit for a “princess”.
So here I am, encumbered by my anti-mainstream attitude about toys and clothes, searching for play jewelry for my daughter, and wondering: Are these hang-ups of mine even legitimate? Does any of this really matter?
Can’t a girl whose room is plastered with Disney Princesses still grow up to be the next Betty Friedan? Can’t a boy who plays with John Deere tractors still grow up to respect women as his intellectual equals?
I also wonder: Are the toys and clothes creating the differences? Or do they simply attract them?
And as moms, at what point do our own attitudes – about beauty and weight and self-image – affect our choices for our young daughters? A little girl playing with her mom’s makeup is a rite of passage. But what about the six year-old on a diet? Or the eight-year old injected with Botax by her mom?
I’d really love to hear your thoughts on any and all of the above – even if you’re totally down with the princesses.