Can Girls Get Dirty Anymore?

When my first grandchild was announced, I started paying more attention to the world of children.  I noticed how adults  presented the world to children.

I shopped for baby clothes as soon as we knew it was a girl.  Carter’s is at Friendly Shopping Center, right down the road from us, so I started there.  The layout of the store jerked me to a stop in the doorway.

GIRLS   on one side:                                



So many shades of


Embroidered jeans                                                     

Denim skirts                                                            

BOYS on the other side:







Adaline and Atticus have two sets of grandparents.  We all get along well on special occasions like births and birthdays.  But we are very different.

I buy jeans and overalls, t-shirts and sweatshirts for Adaline to wear outside and get dirty.  Grandma Jude buys exquisite dresses for each holiday and takes pictures that I love to look at.  Adaline likes both.  She is a lucky girl.  (Atticus is only 3 months old and it’s hot so he mostly sticks to soft cotton onesies.)

What happened to primary colors like red and green and yellow?  Toy stores have separate girl and boy sections—pink princess stuff and tutus (which are really cute) for girls or blocks and trucks and trains for boys.  Adaline likes the train display at Toys and Company.  Lego now markets sets for girls in pretty colors (click here to see them).  Adaline plays at our house with primary-color blocks and toddler-size Lego’s.

I don’t dislike pink.  I think the headbands with flowers for girl babies without hair are adorable.  And I am sure I will eventually paint Adaline’s toenails pink.

I want girls to have choices.

Her mother never really played with dolls.  She only wanted to wear dresses for a few months when she was 4—I think her knees are still scarred.  She didn’t walk then, she ran.  And fell.

She liked to dig in the dirt all by herself.  (Whoever lives there now probably still finds my spoons in their backyard.)  She had a stable-full of Pretty Ponies and stuffed animals.

She grew up to be a zookeeper.  Now she and her husband are terrific parents.  Adaline can look at animal pictures and name macaw and hippopotamus.  One of her first words was dog.  She cheers for West Virginia University when they’re on tv.

You can see why I’m perturbed by the following quote from Entertainment Weekly about Brave,  the latest Disney movie with a girl named Merida in the lead part:

“But could Merida be gay? Absolutely. She bristles at the traditional gender roles that she’s expected to play: the demure daughter, the obedient fiancée. Her love of unprincess-like hobbies, including archery and rock-climbing, is sure to strike a chord with gay viewers who felt similarly “not like the other kids” growing up. And she hates the prospect of marriage — at least, to any of the three oafish clansmen that compete for her hand — enough to run away from home and put her own mother’s life at risk. She’s certainly not a swooning, boy-crazy Disney princess like The Little Mermaid’s Ariel or Snow White. In fact, Merida may be the first in that group to be completely romantically disinclined (even cross-dressing Mulan had a soft spot for Li Shang).”

Are you kidding me??

(Click here for a link to a good commentary on the Entertainment Weekly article.)

Published in: on July 9, 2012 at 2:39 pm  Comments (12)  
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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. So, she doesn’t want to get married so she is gay? Wow. That’s ridiculous. To say the least. Love, Your not-married-until-31 daughter

    • Kinda disturbing, huh? And why is being gay such a negative?

  2. Oh, goodness! I was a girl who climbed anything I could, won races, built forts and wrote/directed plays…and read endlessly…not gay. What on earth is going on with these biased and limiting gender definitions and color-coded options for children? That EW article is most disturbing. I get that it’s all about spin, but why that language and written by whom, for whom? Very odd.

    • I would have pictured you that way as a kid, Catherine. I really thought we’d be further along this road by now.

  3. Well, maybe it’s a good sign that evolved thinking has occurred, in that we, and many others, at least notice this “brainwashing” regarding personal identity and that its expression and formation has been reduced to a marketing campaign…It can be discouraging to see how gender roles like female “submissiveness” and masculine “domination” are still perpetuated and played out.

    But there’s hope, I think, in that we ARE discouraged, because it means we recognize it isn’t right-thinking and reduces human potential to sexual organs. Such thinking won’t change unless people like you address it as you have, so THANK YOU, again, for noticing, writing, and posting!

  4. Unreal about the movie commentary. I too don’t understand why girls who like to get dirty or play with stuffed animals or do adventuresome things are often thought of as less feminine. Exactly WHO defines a woman or girl?

  5. The idea that a girl can’t play with something unless it is pink drives me insane. This is a relatively new development that leads me to believe that in some ways we are going backward.

    The stupidity of the commentary on Brave is mind-boggling, which adds to my fear that we are losing ground in our fight for gender equality instead of gaining it.

    • I’m afraid you’re right, Susan.

  6. Did you know that sitting in a blue room is energizing while sitting in a pink room makes a person feel docile?

    How about that?

    • There used to be a sheriff in the next county over who had the cells in the jail painted pink and the inmates had to wear pink and white stripes. Everybody thought he was nuts. Maybe not!

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