Wednesday, March 5, 2014

On being a girl

So, I see lists like this all the time:

The feminine power movement is everywhere.  In Disney movies (Belle is smart, Mulan fights, etc, etc), in picture books, everywhere.

Rock on.  I don't want my daughters thinking that being a girl is all about being attractive.


Sometimes I worry that we are making girls feel shame for being girly.  The girl who wants to play on the football team gets all sorts of notice and pats on the back.  But the girl who loves ballet and wears pink?  Just a quick glance or a roll of the eyes.

I want my daughters to love beauty.  I don't mean appearance; I mean beauty.  I feel that it's something so special to being a woman.  Not that men can't love beauty too, but being female holds such a privilege of enjoying beauty in ways that men don't.  And I want my girls to love it.  Creating things.  Making things pretty.  If they are tough, spunky girls, that's awesome.  But I don't want them to feel that they have to be a tough girl in order to have value as a female.

I don't want them to feel shame in wanting to dress up and feel pretty.  I want them to play with makeup and fix their hair and paint their toenails if they want.  I want them to decorate their school notebooks and the walls of the their room just because they like the way a thing looks.  I don't want them to feel bad if all they want out of life is to be a wife and mom.

Our culture has done what it does best and that is that it's swung from one end of the spectrum to another.  We shut up women in kitchens and nurseries in the 50's and now we preach power and strength as the desired feminine traits.  Even in the books we read.  And I love the warrior-girl books.  But not everyone is a Katniss or a Tris.  Not everyone will save their district or faction or kingdom.

I don't want my girls growing up thinking their value and worth is based on appearance or looks, and I don't want them thinking that they can't do things because they are a girl and that they are destined to a life in the corner.

But, just as much as I don't want that, I don't want my girls putting on a tough girl persona that is just as false.  If they like pink and don't want to dig in the dirt and hate video games and violence but love ruffles and lace and baking, then more power to them.

Have we sacrificed an essential component of femininity in our quest for girl power? I feel like we have.  And in doing so I feel like we have sacrificed the best part of being a woman.  Because we are fierce and loud and soft and gentle.  I love in Proverbs 31 where it describes the ideal woman, and man, she is a lot of different things.

I'll be interested to see how our culture paints the picture of what's desirable in a girl twenty year from now.  Interesting too how I will guide my daughter(s) up the slippery slope of figuring out what it means to be a girl in her own unique way, and not feeling pressure to live up to someone else's standard.

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