I’m sat at a baptism party while my girls play with the group of other child guests. After a while, Miss F (3.5) comes up to me looking forlorn, “Mummy, why can’t I be like Frozen?”
She gestures over to the other little girls in their poofy party dresses and then looks down at her claret trousers and stripy t-shirt.
“Are you feeling funny because you’re dressed differently to the other girls?”, I ask.
This is our current parenting tact – to verbalise her pre-schooler emotions where she might otherwise struggle. I’m not totally convinced it works, but we’re giving it a go!
She nods, “I want to be like Frozen.”
In that moment my heart dropped.
It’s understandable that she feels out of place when she doesn’t look the same as the group. I feel it all the time- feeling over or under dressed, or not exuding the ‘natural’ beauty vibe expected of me. But it breaks my heart that before she’s has even reached her fourth birthday my daughter is already becoming aware of these unhealthy dynamics.
So I explain,
“Do you remember how excited you were when you heard they’d be a bouncy castle at the party?”
“You have been taking about it for days, saying how much you are looking forward to the castle. Do you remember?”
She nods again.
“Well, I knew that you were looking forward to bouncing so I picked an outfit that would help you bounce- it’s really hard bouncing in a dress.”
She looks through her eyebrows- a look inherited from her father I might add!
“Can I wear a dress next time?”
I give her a squeeze. “Yes, next time.”
As she runs off to play, I turn to my companion and ask, “How do you explain that our patriarchal society will pressure women into wearing clothes that stop you from doing what you want to do?”
God has given my daughter a body made for exploring, climbing and bouncing. While I don’t have anything against dresses per se, I want to protect my child from anything that stops her from being who God created her to be.
That’s why I dressed her in trousers. I want her to be free to be herself, where her clothes serve her, not restrict her.
Perhaps next time, if she insists, I’ll let her wear that dress but will quietly keep a change of clothes in the bag for when she wants a bounce!