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Accepting My Pink, Sparkly Princess of a Daughter

When I found out I was having a girl, I made a promise to her that I wouldn’t put her in dresses and pink. That I wouldn’t limit her to the “girl” section at Toys R Us. I would put my hands on my belly and declare, “You will be a tomboy! You will hate things that glitter and sparkle. I will never let you wear princess dresses.”

I wanted to set a precedent that I was a supportive parent, progressive and open.

When I found out I was having a boy, I made a promise to him as well. That I wouldn’t force him to be masculine. That if he showed any interest in the color pink, or dressing up in “girls” clothes, that would be okay. I would tell him, “You can be whoever you want to be!”

Then I realized how biased that was.

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I was so determined to have a girl that didn’t fit into society's idea of what femininity is that I was willing to decide for her the type of female she would be. While my son, on the other hand, I was going to allow him to simply be. The thought of having a daughter who loved jewelry and dresses made me afraid that she wouldn’t be a strong woman. I have been afraid of how she would be perceived. I also wasn’t being an open person.

I was being just as bad as the parent that pushes gender stereotypes onto their children.

I asked my daughter to put on sweats today to which she shouted, “I'm not that kind of girl! I'm the kind of girl that always looks fancy! I have to wear a dress! You know that about me." I was caught off-guard for a moment, and then I was like, “You’re right, you’re not.”

For the last few months I’ve been really dissecting this idea of gender. Having a boy and girl has really challenged my thoughts on females vs. males. On what “boys” do and what “girls” do. Especially children that identify as the gender they were born into, yet don’t see that gender as limiting in anyway.

My daughter has always loved fancy and pretty things. One of her first words was "pink," and she’s constantly begging to put on makeup. So different than how I grew up. I wanted to be a boy, because boys could do things. I hated that I was told to act like a lady, that I couldn’t do things because I wasn’t a boy.

As an adult I’m still working through my gender identity and have accepted myself as someone that is a woman, but leans more towards the masculine side. Discovering my own identity has made me step back and try to give my children space. This is silly, but I have to try hard to be OK with my daughter dressing up in princess wear. She loves glitter and is obsessed with earrings. I cringe because it's something I don’t understand, but also because I am afraid that femininity is not seen as a strength but as a weakness.

Except everyday I watch her be what some may call bossy (I call it assertive). I watch her stand up for what she wants, what she believes in. She may love pink and purple, but when she was 3 she dressed up as Darth Vader for Halloween. For subsequent Halloweens she has been Jack Skellington, Captain Jack Sparrow and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Tutrle. She’s constantly telling other children that there’s no such thing as “boy” and “girl” toys. She sits in front of the mirror while she applies makeup and sings, “I can be whoever I want! I amaze myself by being me!”

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Then she does just that. My 6-year0old embraces every part of herself and lives her own truth.

She demands a presence with her kind spirit and has a heart that I believe is pure gold. She may not be what I imagined my daughter would be, but she’s the kind of person I, myself, have always strived to be. I’m more than proud of the person she is. She can be whatever kind of girl that she wants. I will, always be there supporting her.

Because, as her mom, that’s what I’m suppose to be doing. Not trying to force her into my ideal box for her.

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Image via Twenty20/genuinepetals

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