Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Barbie Lipstick

There is a book out there that I am dying to read. So, I guess if my doc puts me on bed rest tomorrow (not likely, despite the weekend contractions) I know for which book I'll be sending Scott to the bookstore:

Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein.

Why? I listened to a fabulous interview on NPR the other day and, given the recent girly-girl transformation Miss Violet has undergone, it seems like the book would speak to me, particularly since I'm shortly to become the mother of two more daughters.

I don't know that I am terribly concerned with Violet's princess/Polly Pocket/Barbie/My Little Pony/Lalaloopsie/Strawberry Shortcake fascination -- after all, I, too, owned Barbies and Strawberry Shortcakes and Cabbage Patch Dolls as a child and I'm not really an uber-girly girl. Yeah, I prefer to look put together over looking disheveled and homeless, but I've never had a mani or a pedi and my hair color (all of it) is *gasp* my own. How can I help it that auburn with blonde highlights is hot? That's the way it grows out of my head.

The small part of me that is concerned is mostly concerned about the future. Right now, Violet still lets me buy her clothes and generally doesn't have a fit about what she wears. Of course, I'm a total square and can't stand the prosti-tot look, so she does not own belly shirts, Daisy Dukes, or sassy little wedge sandals. Not gonna happen. She does have canvas Mary Janes with lavender rhinestones and flowers on them. She does have a pair of black fake Uggs. She does have chapstick, but it's colorless ad not shiny and she wears it to bed and when playing outside to prevent chapped lips. For the record, so does Milo -- well, the chapstick part. I think he might balk at rhinestoned shoes.

I don't dress like a hoochie-mama and my daughters are not going to dress like mini-hoochie-mamas. For me, it's not a body image thing -- I spent countless hours as a teen in front of a big ol' mirror watching myself dance in ballet class while wearing a leotard and tights. I know what my body looked like then and what it looks like now. Yeah, when I was in high school, I probably would have been cute in a micro-mini and baby T, but I had absolutely no interest in wearing that. I guess I preferred my brain and my personality to do my talking.

I can't say that I am a terribly modest person, either. Years of fast changes in the wings and group dressing rooms have pretty much stripped that from me (har, har). If everything that should be covered by undergarments is covered, I'm good to go. You might be scarred for life by seeing my web of stretch marks, but I'm not scared of them being seen.

It is going to be a tough road to navigate, I'm sure. I want my daughters to feel confident and empowered by the strength of their bodies without feeling the need to let their bodies do all of the talking for them. How do I teach that?

Given their genetics, none of my kids are going to be runway model-material. That was never a dream of mine, yet I surely do remember my sister and cousin having modeling aspirations. And as I was waiting outside Milo's classroom for his parent/teacher conference, I flipped through the class's "What I Want to Be When I Grow Up" book and at least four of the girls listed and drew fashion models as their choice career. *Thunk* (that was my jaw hitting the ground) Seriously?? These girls are a mere two years, or maybe three, older than Violet and ViVi has no clue what a fashion model is. Or what she wears -- and doesn't wear.

So, yeah. Be aware that one of these days, I will be reading Ms. Orenstein's book. I hope it doesn't depress me... But, if it does, I'll remember how Violet bid me goodnight last night:

Mom, you're so pretty! You're fashion style! You're Barbie lipstick with lots of shoes!

Really? I guess if Barbie lipstick needs a crane to get off the couch, wears nine-year-old loafers most days, and is happy to find a shirt that covers all of her belly...


jss said...

Dying to read that book! Dying. Let me know what you think!

Christina said...

I've been hearing a lot about that book, it's supposed to be really good. You'll have to post a review of it when you're done.

Raising girls seems so complicated, especially for someone like me who is a feminist and hyper-aware of the issues and challenges surrounding girls and women. I think I would make it harder than it had to be, kwim? So, it's a good thing I have boys. When I announced to a friend of mine that baby #4 was a boy she told me that was great, that I was meant to raise feminist men. :)

redheadreverie said...

I heard that book is REALLY good. Although, it makes me thankful that I have boys. Even though they have their own set of issues. :-)