I was washing Cardin’s clothes over the weekend and as I was sorting through the hamper, I managed to create an entire pile of pink clothes. With the pile of clothes I sorted you would think Pink is her favorite color, but she’s adamantly stuck on blue. It’s disturbing to me the amount of pepto bismol colored clothing she’ll wear in just one week; enough that I’m required to do a separate load of just pink articles.
Most of it can be attributed to her adoration of all things princesses, scattered with a few Hello Kitty items. Or we can simply call it, gender stereotyping at it’s best. As her personality has grown, I’ve kept my attempts at stamping out the girly stuff to a minimum.
However, a few weeks back we ran into a distant cousin who had not seen Cardin in over a year. They inquired as to whether she’d be starting pre-school soon and whether or not we were going to sign her up for little tot dance classes in our area. I’ve bent to a lot of “girl” things. Her room is purple, she wears pink, and I let her paint her nails. The list goes on. I will not bend to dance classes though.
Go ahead Lady, call me a terrible mother. Tell me I’m suppressing her creativity and expression. I’m not letting her reach her full potential. I’ve heard it all, but I’m not changing my mind.
I’m sure there are many advantages of a dance class, but I’m also sure there are many disadvantages. Forget the time and monetary commitment that goes along with these classes, but the self-esteem and body image obsession and idolization purported with this craft is out of control. Her everyday encounters with TV, movies, and magazines are enough exposure to such stringent standards of our society.
Listen Lady, I get it, she’s only 3 and she’d be cute just standing on stage flopping around. Right now, she has no clue of the criticism, stereotypes, and ignorance that she will face as she grows. But what happens when she’s 10, 13, or 18? The same rules don’t apply.
Why would I purposefully matriculate her into a dance culture that takes society’s rules on beauty and perfection and multiplies them exponentially? Especially when we want to teach her to look beyond the differences in race, body size, religion, sexuality. I can’t protect her from all the ignorance and stereotyping that exists in our society. At some point she’ll need to conquer these herself. But, could I really consider myself a good parent if wasn’t trying to teach her differently?