My Daughters Were Not "Born to Shop".

I am a woman, a sister and a mother. I come from a family of all daughters – a tribe of fearless females. I also have 3 daughters of my own. 3 daughters! Boom. Pow! CRASH! Those are the sounds of responsibility hitting me square in the face. It is 2012, but, if you take a look around, the stereotypes and gender role messages from the past are as clear and loud as ever. They are not even lurking. They are slapping you right in the face. They press the boundaries of our collected comfort and continue to exploit the roles and “duties” society still obliges our young generation of women to fulfill. And, what role do we play in the passive assignment of who our girls “should” be? Are we taking a stand? Are we aware, enough, of what everything around them is telling them? And, what exactly are “they” saying? This parenting thing is tough. My brain hurts. I need a drink.

I live in the world of the Disney Princess. My little women watch with delight, mimic with gusto and dream of their Happily Ever After. They role play in scarves, ruffles and glitter. They sing the songs, they know the words. Oddly enough, I am ok with this. These are fairy tales. These are bedtime stories of fancy. And, in their own right, many of these heroines have just enough kick-ass to make them a household fixture that I can enjoy through my daughters’ eyes. And, as time marches on, the princesses are changing. They are moving into an awareness of their special talents/gifts. What am I saying? I have no idea. I THINK I’m saying that my love/hate for the Disney Princesses is complex. It is effing deep and difficult to navigate. I have feelings. Feelings that overlap. Feelings of confusion, but, mostly, I just want to sing along. Sue me.


This is not a princess hating post. This is a post about my feelings about other gender stereotypes that are not complex. This is a post about my downright hatred of certain clothing phrases. You know, the statements we plaster across our babies and young girls’ chests. Messages as clear and revolting as Grandma’s 50s-era Spam dinner. We knowingly and often suit our girls up in ruffled phrases that mock the progress women who came before us have made. It is crazy. It is offensive. It has to stop. Please, make it stop! So, for your viewing displeasure, here are three of my most hated onesie/clothing statements:

“Born to Shop” – Dearest girl child, your life is full of potential. You are a bright star. You have every opportunity. Opportunities that women in other countries can only dream of. Here, wear this onesie that lets everyone know that you are a female and females just LOVE to shop. In fact, you were BORN to do it. You were not born to explore space or become President of the United States. You, my dear, were born to shop. Grab your plastic, Miss Fantastic and let’s head to the mall.

“Daddy/Mommy/Grandma/Grandpa Thinks I’m Pretty” – You are a girl. That means it is your JOB to be pretty. Everything else is secondary. All the people closest to you think so and that is why we are letting the whole world know that this is your great gift/talent as a female. To reiterate, it’s not being kind, smart, witty or talented that makes us proud to be your closest relatives. It’s how cute you look in dresses. How pretty your tiny face is. Above all else, You. Must. Be. Pretty. Pretty girls rule the world. Don’t ever forget that, Dimples.

“DIVA” gear – Are you strong willed? Do you ask for what you want? Are you opinionated? Are you full of personality? Well, then you must be a DIVA. That’s right, girl. You aren’t anything more than an attention seeking fameaholic. You couldn’t possibly just be strong, opinionated, dynamic or the thousands of other words that apply. No, you are a DIVA. Add some glitter and a crown to that one word and walk around with it plastered to your chest. Let the world know that you are “hard to handle” and have “unrealistic expectations”. It’s time to start selling yourself short.

And, really, that’s my big, core issue. We are telling our girls, in print, that we have the very basest of expectations for them. We anticipate that they will love the mall, be a beauty and that they just wont take no for an answer when it comes to sweet talking that extra $20 from Daddykins. Our pretty little diva shopaholics, the new generation of independent women. The tomorrow we’ve all been dreaming of. No? Not your dream? It’s not mine either.

So, I’m campaigning for these new onesie/t-shirt phrases:

Daddy Thinks I Kick Ass!
Mommy’s Mensa Candidate!
Future CEO!
Born To Be the Best Me I Can Be!
Tough As Nails & Smart As A Whip!

Let’s have a good old fashioned bonfire for the others. However, I won’t be burning my bra. I need it to nurse my youngest, bright star who was born to do great, unknown things that are too varied and wonderful to be splayed across her chest.

*Have your own hated onesie/clothing phrases? Please comment and share. Sharing is caring.*





Comments

  1. The world is damn lucky you decided to become a mother. I’m proud to call you my sister.

  2. Let’s take back the meaning of this one:
    I play like a girl!

  3. It is so freaking awesome to read my thoughts from someone else, and the way you come across is quite great!

  4. I’d buy those onesies.

  5. So funny – I love to shop and I have two boys. My 12 year old will shop for sneakers because that’s the thing now apparently, but otherwise, he won’t be seen in a mall with me.
    Great post! Hey, what happened to Word From Your Mothers? I was intrigued, but there were no posts. Not a complaint though – love this blog!

    • Hey Mod Mom! Thanks for stopping by and reading. Word From Your Mothers is our new, community blogging page. Our first guest BPM poster will actually be posting today, so, great timing on your question. We are accepting submissions from the momblog world for inclusion on Word From Your Mother. We are exploring real parenting issues like balance, post partum depression, finding your new “normal” after children, etc. If you have a new or old piece you’d like us to consider for publishing through BPM Word From Your Mothers, please send a private message with your writing sample to bdthies@gmail.com! Oh, and please check out our FB page and Group. (info. on right sidebar of the page) Thanks for stopping by. xo- BPM

  6. I know this is an old post, but I wanted to say GO YOU and let you know I feel ya. I also feel that gender sterotypes are so ingrained in everything these days. I tried to buy my friend’s daughter a 1st birthday card that wasn’t pink, I just wanted one that was gender neutral and there were ZERO cards like that at Target. I went to buy my own boys a ball, a simple bouncy ball (they’re five months old I don’t need anything fancy) and it was either princesses or superheroes. Why not just a simple red ball? Or a yellow ball? I wanted to get them the princess ball just because I want them to know they’re allowed to like princesses and baby dolls and whatever they want that there is no set thing for boys to play with and girls to play with. After much debate I ended up with the Super hero ball because I like superheroes so they aren’t just for boys. And believe me they will know this!
    Ok, now that I just ranted about a child’s ball for a paragraph, thanks again for this post.

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