When I first knew I was expecting a girl, I was excited but also scared. I had no idea how to care for a girl. I’m not a very girly woman myself, and I knew nothing about braiding hair or looking pretty.
Luckily, when she was born and big enough to let her personality shine, she was showing all the signs of becoming a tomboy, always running around and exploring. For the first two years of her life, I dressed her in jeans paired with boyish t-shirts and marveled at how beautiful she looked.
But once she was old enough to pick her own clothes, she would go for the cute skirts and dresses I had received as gifts or bought just in case. In fact, she is now 6-years-old and rarely have I seen her in anything else but a dress or a skirt.
I was surprised. A convinced jeans-wearer myself, I couldn’t understand how it was possible for anyone to feel comfortable in a dress. I always found them too weird, and besides, for some reason it was hard to find a dress or skirt that fit me. Jeans and a t-shirt, paired with a sweater during the colder days, is my go-to uniform, especially these days when getting dressed needs to be as uncomplicated as possible.
I was also worried. I thought that the peer pressure was getting to my daughter. I feared that instead of letting her amazing strong personality shine through, she was getting put away into a box labeled “girl.” Of course, a girl must look pretty and be calm and collected at all times. I was scared that instead of running around or asking all these deep questions she loves to surprise me with, she would now only concentrate on her appearance.
When we watched “Tangled,” she wanted to let her hair grow as long as Rapunzel’s. I even tried my hand at braiding, but it didn’t last long before we were both getting frustrated. I really can’t braid, and she was getting tired of all the combing and brushing. So she decided she was done, and I took her to the hairdresser. Her hair is now chin-length, way shorter than it used to be, but of course, she looks amazing.
This is when I realized that my daughter doesn’t love dresses because they’re pretty—although she enjoys looking beautiful from time to time. She loves them because they give her the freedom to run around. She loves them because she can get dressed all by herself, which gives her plenty of confidence and self-reliance. She loves them because an active girl like her gets warm very quickly, and the airy dresses let her skin breathe.
When buying her clothes—including the “girly” ones—I made sure everything she had was comfortable. And one look at my daughter makes it clear that she feels absolutely comfortable in the way she looks and dresses. She can often be found climbing a tree, sliding from the slide, or running as fast as the wind. She doesn’t care about her looks at all! In fact, she knows that there is something much more important than being pretty: comfort.
Appearances are important, but they shouldn’t get in the way of having fun. This has mostly been a lesson for me, not her, though: She is comfortable enough to know who she is. She knows it’s perfectly fine to look pretty and be active and rambunctious at the same time.
She made me realize that I’m the one who got put in a box—the one labeled, “Someone who thinks pretty girls are shallow.” Fortunately, my daughter taught me otherwise.
Now I’ve stopped worrying about the way she dresses. The only requirement I have is that her clothes are weather-appropriate. But for the high summer temperatures, even I feel too warm to wear pants.
So please excuse me, I need to find my dress. And then we’re going to climb trees.