My daughter is four and she is currently obsessed with princesses.
I’ve tried to encourage her to branch out, but I’m all too aware that this is common and I simply try to include strong and non-princessy lessons in along the way. It’s okay. I know that this obsession will end all too soon and she will grow up much faster than I would like. At least at four years old, she still loves me like crazy and I get to be an example of what it means to be a girl. I love teaching her that makeup is for FUN and that mommy can both wear it or go without and still be just right. I love letting her be herself, even if that means she wears a polka dot party hat to church and a glittery dress to school. She is only four, and children don’t keep.
Yesterday, we made a rare trip to Walmart to pick up some motor oil (I’m learning to change my own) and some groceries. We stumbled upon the Halloween section, and naturally Bluebelle wanted to look at the costumes and the glitter pumpkins. As we browsed the princess aisle, I stumbled upon these costumes:
When I saw these dresses, these dresses that are explicitly designed to attract my daughter (because it’s DISNEY PRINCESSES and totally in her size), I was upset. No, I was livid. I mean, what is the point of this skirt? I realize that high/low hemlines are currently popular. I get that. Can someone tell me where in any of the Disney stories a princess wore a dress that ended at her thighs? Furthermore, as a mother of a preschooler, I can tell you that little children are meant to move. Is there any possible way that a little girl can wear this dress without the need of shorts/leggings/tights to cover the underwear? We have both full-length and cropped Disney princess dresses, but none of them cut quite this high. I feel like this little girl is one twirl away from a crotch shot and that breaks my heart. So, I can only assume that Walmart/Disney/Disguise made this to save money on fabric and to push the sexy boundary just a little.
I think sex is wonderful, but I do not believe it is ever appropriate for a child to be viewed as sexy. PERIOD. I’ll fight for my children’s right to remain children as long as I am breathing. I know we can’t stop sick individuals from being sick and there will always be people who do and view deplorable things. Seriously though, can’t we just leave the princess dresses alone? So I don’t have to explain to my daughter that we will not buy that dress because it’s inappropriate?
I’m a person that believes in modesty, but not in the stereotypical kind of way. You’ll never see me preach some sermon about how “girls should cover up because boys are visual.” Most of these posts support rape culture (whether intentional or not) and I think that both parties should be taught responsibility. I want to teach BOTH of my children about respectful dress — because I believe we should dress in a way that commands respect. Period. I will not allow my daughter to dress in a way that objectifies her as a female, and I will not allow my son to dress in a way that gives him carte blanche to run wild, because all people are worth so much more than that.
My daughter is more than the sum of her body parts. She brings more to the table than how she looks. My son is more than the proof of how “male” he is. His value lies in more than how brave/strong/fast he is. He will learn about care and compassion just as B learns about strength and bravery. As they become older and learn what it means to love other people in a more relational and intimate kind of way, they will be taught that sexy comes from who they are, not what they display.
I refuse, and I mean REFUSE, to allow visually sexy to come into play at 4 years old. The marketing teams that created this are not stupid. They are aware that they could have put the little girls into opaque tights. They may have even lengthened the legs of these girls with Photoshop. I don’t know. I do know this: that as a mother, if the first thing I see is an embarrassingly large expanse of leg, there is no way in hell I am ever purchasing that for my child. My child, whose favorite things are glitter, chocolate milk, and playing on the playground. Heaven help me if I ever put anything on my child that causes someone else to think, “Wow! She looks sexy!”
SHE’S FOUR, PEOPLE. FOUR.
I’m going to step off this soapbox now, as I need to pick up said ruffly girl from school. In the words of my friends on Facebook yesterday after I showed this photo:
SO IT BEGINS.