Ever since giving birth to my first beautiful daughter I have battled against the onslaught of all things pink and princess, but the might of the Western world is against me and occasionally I have to concede defeat in the face of a five year old who is apparently being drawn into a world that occasionally seems all but completely alien to me.
Sitting talking to her this afternoon she was cutting out figures from a 'Princess' magazine bought for her by her father, chatting about which was Sleeping Beauty etc and whether she should wear the cardboard crown with the pink side or yellow side showing. I asked her: "Why do you like princess magazines then?" The answer:"It's just I like all the jewels and things." Hmm.
The problem for my little girls - fascinated by make-up, jewellry, perfumes and all the things that women are 'supposed' to like, is that their mother is one of those women who literally showers, gets dressed and walks out of the door, and that really is the way I like it. My cupboards are not home to bottles of lotions and potions, nor am I someone who looks forward to a chance to go shopping for clothes and shoes.
It does fascinate me though, this subconscious grooming by our society, that teaches young girls what they are 'supposed' to like and dislike from such an early age. And it really is difficult to avoid. My five year old has very clear ideas about what toys / clothes / hobbies are suitable for each sex and I cannot honestly say where these ideas have come from. Certainly not from her mother, in fact I am probably far too quick in my middle class lefty-liberal way, to point out at every opportunity: "Well some boys like pink.... some boys are quiet and kind... some girls like blue... everyone is different and that's ok... etc etc"
What really makes me smile though is that when she's not thinking about what she should like and she lets her guard down, I am reassured by her ability to jump in with both feet and enjoy life in the way that I think all children should be allowed to whether they are male or female. So, when we went to an adventure playground yesterday she was the only girl in the queue for the rope slide (and not just once either), and today when I asked her to help me plant bulbs she spent more time picking up worms and woodlice than she did talking about the pretty flowers we were going to grow. Phew.