One of my favorite sites is Pigtail Pals: Redefine Girly. I discovered it through Twitter after the smart mom who runs it was kind enough to share the blog post I wrote this summer about the day E. told me “only boys play with swords.”
Since finding the site, I’ve really enjoyed their updates on Facebook. Today, she had a particularly powerful blog that was written directly to a 4-year-old girl and other girls who like blue shoes. Melissa, the author, is taking on the people who try to put our children into gender boxes and I 100 percent support her efforts.
And I’ve told you before about my devotion to the book “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” by Peggy Orenstein. I loved it so much that it’s our next book club selection for my mom’s club book club and I’m really looking forward to the discussion.
All of this is a long-winded way of saying that I’m constantly thinking about the genderfication of our kids. I worry about the emphasis for girls to be “girly” and “pretty” and to play with gender-specific toys, particularly those insidious princesses.
I struggle with where exactly to draw the line. Thankfully, E isn’t too crazy over princess merchandise, but, she does love the girls themselves. This picture was taken in May, and she begs me on almost a daily basis to wear the dress that Belle loved.
Despite the fact that I’m not wild about the princesses, I’ll always remember this moment. E. was so excited when Belle told her they were wearing almost the same dress (believe me, this was not an attempt to “dress like a princess” — it was just a pretty yellow dress her grandmother sent her). And then, for several minutes, the two of them danced, twirled, told secrets and became fast friends.
I’m not going to lie — I got a little teary eyed. It wasn’t special because Belle was a princess. It was special because she’s a larger-than-life character who took the time to create a special moment for my 3-year-old daughter. I think it would have been a special moment whether it was Mickey, Buzz or even that snot Ariel.
So, I had very mixed feelings when Pigtail Pals posted this picture on Facebook today with the following caption: “My friend and her 10yo son just sent me this pic…now Disney can control your snacks, too! Magical Princess Grapes….sparkles and enchantment sold by the pound.”
Most of the commenters were also outraged by the grapes and the continued direct marketing aimed at our children. And, for the most part, I agree. There is absolutely no reason on Earth why something like grapes should have the princess label slapped on it.
But you know what? I’m also one of those moms with a picky eater on her hands. Thankfully, she’ll eat pretty much any piece of fruit I put in front of her, so I don’t think we’ll be rushing out to gobble up these grapes. But I’m telling you the truth — I would buy ANY vegetable that had character marketing on it. I’m sorry, but I’m desperate.
No matter how many tempting and delicious recipes I make for E. featuring vegetables as the centerpiece or a side attraction, she rejects them all without ever taking a bite. I’ve tried bribing, begging, cajoling, withholding food … and none of it works.
But there is one piece of green food she’ll eat every day of the week — edamame. Want to know why? Because one time. One single time I bought a bag of frozen, shelled edamame that had a picture of Dora on it. And you know what my daughter STILL calls edamame, even though I’ve never bought another bag of it with Dora’s face? Dora beans. She sees the bags I buy it in now and knows Dora is not on it, but that’s her name for the soybeans. Who am I to argue if she’s eating it?
So, if Belle could make E. eat broccoli and Cinderella could make spinach look attractive, then I say bring it on. Even if it does make me a consumerism slut and a bad pseudo-feminist. I just want my daughter to eat vegetables. Is that so wrong?
This would all be so much easier if Luke Skywalker or the Von Trapp children — the stars of her two favorite movies — had just one scene where they ate their vegetables.
What do you think of the girly girl culture? Would you buy something just because it had a character on it? Or does that make you less likely to buy it?