In a world where everyone wants their kid to be the hot dog, my daughter is the princess. In fact, my daughter loves princess, pink and all things “girlie.” Her most recent obsession is My Little Pony.
Now, I love that little girl that’s the hot dog in the video. (Click here if you have no idea what I’m talking about.) I want to be that little girl and surely I want my daughter to be that little girl. I want her to be brave and fearless and strong. All the things that to me, the hot dog represents.
When I learned I was having a girl I told my mom that I didn’t want anyone calling my daughter a princess. I wanted her to be the hot dog. She would be an individual. She would not be snotty. She wouldn’t be entitled or rude. She would be anything but what I considered a princess in life.
As she grew, she naturally gravitated towards traditional girl things. A lot of her baby toys were gender neutral toys (as they almost all are) – a ball she could chase that moved on its own, a train with some of the Disney animals, her play mat and exersaucer, the books we read were all about animals and ABC’s. She also had some dolls before she was 1 and she rocked them, she hugged them and loved them. She favored them for a little while.
She loved Elsa, Anna and Frozen before she was 2 and wanted long hair so she could have braids. But she also gravitated towards Jessie from Toy Story. In fact, she decided to be Jessie in the year when all the girls in her class picked Elsa.
By that time, I had made my peace with princesses because here’s the thing. Why can’t she be an individual, kind, generous and polite and still be a princess who loves pink?
If I don’t believe she can do all those things while being a princess and liking the color pink, then I am part of the problem. If I don’t believe that she can enjoy things that are still traditionally stereotyped as girl things and still be strong, brave and fearless, then what am I teaching her?
People associate princesses and pink with girlie things and applaud little girls for loving blue and orange and yellow or anything that’s not part of the norm. And while all those little girls should be applauded, the little girls of the world that love princesses and pink shouldn’t be ignored.
Not only that, but they shouldn’t be pushed to the side as being weak and “girlie.” (Side note: When did girlie become a bad thing?) Just because a girl likes things that are associated with being traditionally female, doesn’t make them less.
Additionally, in influencing all our girls to be the hot dog in all situations, are we really encouraging them to pick something that makes us happy over what, at that very moment, will make them happy? Are we really needing them to be less girlie because of the way the world views being a girl or because of the way we view it?
The thing is, if we are trying so hard to steer our children away from what feels normal to them, are we really allowing them to be themselves? Or are we influencing them to be the hot dog when they just want us to be okay with them being a princess (girl or boy)?
I watched my daughter try on activities – soccer, dance, art, etc. I watched her try on clothing (literally) – cow girl boots, tutus, princess dresses and baseball hats. I watched her try on role models – Elsa, Jessie, weird YouTube stars, me. I watched her decide what she loved versus what I thought she should love.
And guess what? I loved it each step of the way because she loved it. And not only did she love it, but even as she became more of a princess-type girl who loves pink I still saw her be an individual. I still saw her being kind. I still saw her being polite. I still saw her being generous. I watched her over the last four years become her and all things girlie are a part of that.
As she is becoming her I am watching her learn how to be brave, fearless and strong. And she is doing it while wearing pink dresses, rainbow shirts, T-shirts, red cow girl boots and my high heels. She is being who she wants to be in her own way, in her own time and as a “princess.”
So to all the little girls out there, young and old, I have a message for you. Be the hot dog, be the Ninja Turtle and be the princess if that’s what you want to be. I’m tired of girls and woman being limited or defined because they like a certain color, dress a certain way and may or may not be a princess. Be who you are and be it fearlessly. It doesn’t matter if you’re the hot dog or the princess, at the end of the day, it just matters that you’re you. And you can discover who that is without the world weighing in.