Posts tagged Girls
Friends and clients have come to me many times over the years, bemoaning the fact that their girls, no matter how gender-neutral their parenting, no matter how enthusiastically trucks and trains are offered, still tend to love frilly dresses (and high heels, and lipstick) with a passion that confuses and worries their not-so-frilly mothers.
(And, to be sure, not all girls like frilly dresses at all. And not all not-so-frilly mothers worry.)
I’m not trying, in any way, to label or pigeonhole or stuff your girl in a box (or exclude your boy from said box). And, I won’t even begin to try and explore what’s going on genetically that makes girls and boys tend towards certain differences. (If the generalizations in this post apply to your boy, or don’t apply to your girl, please read on. There are profound human tendencies at play here, too.)
Instead, I want to share another perspective about frilly dresses, one which is noble and which speaks to all that is good about humanity.
Here’s why lots of girls love frilly dresses, and how you can understand and support your daughter if she does.
Humanity is deeply touched by beauty. Beauty matters, and beauty is powerful. Historically, beautiful art is loved and coveted. Beautiful flowers are honoured and enjoyed. Beautiful music brings us joy, and makes us cry. And a beautiful face might inspire art, music, or poetry – or might sink a thousand ships.
The sad thing is that in our culture today, beauty has acquired an ignoble connotation. It is profoundly undervalued. To us, today, beauty and sexuality are all mixed up, and the word, “beauty” is most often used when talking about a narrow range of physical, female appearance, and the occasional sunset over a beach. Beauty is often considered a silly, feminine thing, and is, therefore, not a priority.
(We are missing out.)
But, our children, and particularly our girls, haven’t had the appreciation for beauty squeezed out of them yet. Their sensitivity hasn’t developed, but they are drawn to what sparkles, what flows, what is colourful, and what represents beauty. And they want to wrap themselves up in it. They want to know that they can inspire that deep sense of appreciation that comes when we see something beautiful, that they can swirl beauty around them. They want to open the hearts of those around them with their own shine, and sparkle, because beauty brings out the smiles and kindness and happiness in humanity. Why wouldn’t they want to wield that love-filled power?
(We grown-up women are well aware that our culture considers beauty to be part of femininity, and that our culture considers all things feminine to be silly. And most of us don’t want to be thought to be silly. We are deeply disconnected from the diverse and radical power of beauty. In protest, against femininity and silliness, I grew up wearing black, dressing for success, and focusing on being professional, or sexy, rather than truly beautiful in my own unique way.)
Over time, children develop a more specific cultural understanding of what is beautiful, but in every culture, most girls tend to want to drape themselves in what their culture considers beautiful.
Unfortunately, our culture doesn’t give women, or girls, much to choose from. “Beauty” has been degraded to a sales pitch, and sexualized into something shameful.
So how do we support our girls?
We rejoice in real beauty. We re-sensitize ourselves to look for beauty in many places, we surround ourselves with it, point it out to our children, nurture it, and value it. We point out the curve of a back that makes us happy, we give attention to beauty in our homes, and we admire beauty joyously, in mother Earth, father Sky, plant, animal, human, or human-made, form.
We do not glorify the Disney princesses or try to look like them. Instead, we point out and cherish beauty in other forms, other ages, other cultures, and other times. We don’t discourage our daughters’ love of frilly dresses, instead we cultivate their eyes and hearts, show them real beauty in art, music, and nature, and enjoy it fully.
We will need to practice, those of us who have grown up in North America.
If you’re a woman, and like I was ten years ago, you just don’t get the relevance of beauty. You may be so worried that your daughter will be hurt by our cultural beliefs about feminine beauty that you run the other way – away from any reference to physical beauty at all. If you’re like I was, you’re angry, that you’ve been labeled, pigeonholed, or stuffed into a box, and you don’t want that for your daughter.
If that is you, I implore you, do not give up on beauty!
Instead, here are some things to do with beauty: Reframe it, rediscover it, honour it. Question it, create it, spread it all around. Explore with it, admire it, rejoice in it. Paint it, revel in it, and wonder at it.
As you live your beauty practice, you will feel a little corner of yourself, likely overlooked for many years, come alive again, and you will see your daughter open up in a different way.
We’d love to share Princess Training Camp with your girl. We’ll explore, create, and enjoy beauty, in a positive and inclusive way, and we’ll have a whole lot of fun!
Click here for all the details on Princess Training Camp 2015… and please share your thoughts on beauty below! I’d love to hear your experiences and perspective!
As this year’s Princess Training Camp draws nearer, I am thinking about some of the key messages that I want to share with the girls, in a positive, light and fun way. Here are some of them:
Our girls need to know that their bodies, personalities, strengths, and beliefs are unique, and that this is A Really Good Thing.
Our girls need to know that each of us, in our individual & quirky & chosen & born-that-way kind of ways, is exactly perfect, and that we can collude with our friends to create supportive, loving Circles of appreciation and respect, where each of us can shine and share the yearnings and beauty and passion and power and love in our hearts.
Our girls need to know that being a princess is about serving, not about being served.
Our girls need to know that beauty is powerful, and that physical beauty is not about erasing, hiding, correcting, or photoshopping. It’s about being who you are, sharing your you-ness, whether that means frilly dresses and jewels, or plain comfy jeans, or funky unmatched socks and a bright orange t-shirt, today, because every day is different, and how you feel and how you want to show up in the world can change daily and hourly.
Our girls need to know that the purpose of make-up is to draw attention to the eyes, because the eyes are the windows to our souls, and the doors to connecting with other people’s hearts.
Our girls need to know that dressing up in fancy clothes and wearing make-up and doing our hair can be Fun, but that it is not a requirement for beauty or happiness or love.
Our girls need to know that we live in the most privileged time in history, that we have access to so much more than most “real” princesses ever had, that gratitude is the key to happiness, and that our greatest privilege is that we can make a difference in the lives of others.
Go here to find out all about Princess Training Camp for your 6-9 year old daughter, and please post below about what messages you think our girls need to hear!