Recently we were at our pediatrician’s office for our daughter’s three-year check-up. Our male doctor asked our daughter if she liked to play with trucks. Our daughter exuberantly responded, “YES! I love trucks and Cars!” We had just had a Cars and Princess themed birthday party for her. The doctor responded by saying he was just kidding. He thought she would say no way. I thought, “Here we go again.” In three years, I have watched these types of girl stereotypes play out one right after another.
Our daughter is one of the most active three-year-olds I know, boys and girls included. She is fearless and with that comes a fierce independence. My wish for her is that she always stays this strong and independent, and always knows she can be anything she wants to be. That’s why when Disney recently tried to change Merida’s appearance, I was so disappointed. I was thrilled last year when we had found a movie that wasn’t about finding prince charming, but being brave, strong, and standing up for what you believe in and that it’s okay to get dirty.
When I saw this graphic on Facebook the other day I thought this is truly our motto for raising our daughter.
My husband and I are doing our best to make sure that she is raised in an environment which welcomes her to get dirty, explore, and to be independent. I’m a career woman who worked in a male-dominated industry before I decided to give up my full-time career and become a stay-at-home mom.
I have taken somewhat of an observatory view watching how gender stereotypes have played out at numerous “play” venues. My daughter, numerous times, has been offered a doll to play with first. Sometimes she’s interested, sometimes she pushes past and plays with the trucks and cars. She is what we like to say an “equal opportunity” player. If it looks fun she’s going to play it.
So while I am generally a silent observer, sometimes I want to just get up on my soap box and say, “Let’s make sure we give our daughters the knowledge that they can do anything and be anything they want. Let them play in the dirt. Let them get scraped knees.”
I’m happy to say that there are many other parents who are empowering their girls and when I see another little girl with scrapped knees and dirt under her nails, I give a silent cheer.
CHERYL CHATTERTON is the owner of the String Bean Boutique (stringbeanboutique17.etsy.com) a web site that specializes in jewelry and accessories for a steal. She and her husband are the owners of SBB systems a multi-media consulting company. Together they have a three-year-old daughter and a loving cat!