What do sovereign power, glitter, and cotton-candy pink all have in common?
They are my three childhood obsessions. Well, that and baby-dolls, which I admit was weird.
I mean, I don’t even like babies. But whatever.
My interests have always been somewhat of an oddity. When I was a junior in high school, I painted my room pink while listening to Nirvana and Pearl Jam the entire time. I’ve never fit into the nice, neat, category of girly-girl or tomboy. I liked biology and grunge and camping and glitter. But like, I really liked glitter.
Do not underestimate my affection for glitter.
Seriously, don’t. Don’t be that guy.
So, yes, I’ll admit, my girlhood was chock full of princesses and glitter and pink. But that never made me less of a potential scientist, writer, or leader than the girls that liked capes. Don’t get me wrong; I see the draw to swooping in and saving the day. But to me, that was too…unambitious. I didn’t want five seconds of fame and glory. I craved sovereign power over a small country. On second thought, a large one would have suited me just fine, too.
And if there was pink and glitter and a few catchy musical numbers in that fantasy, so be it.
Plus, there were not enough girl superheroes when I was a kid. They were all boring dudes. Without glitter or cotton-candy pink, I might add. And yeah, princess stories are in dire need for a makeover. I wish Brave and Frozen were movies when I was kid. I admire their themes of empowerment, and I’m totally on board with their empowering and less love-interest centric themes. But I was never in it for the princes. I could care less about them. I didn’t get why Ariel wanted legs so much. If I were her, I would have been far more interested in ruling Atlantis. And make no mistake, eight-year-old me would’ve rewritten the whole fairytale, if you’d have let her.
As for the babies? Well, I didn’t stick with that interest as a young adult, but maternal instinct does not equal a weak willed woman. Not in the least. If you think that, you’ve obviously never met my aunt or my mother. They’ll set you straight without hesitation.
Last summer, my friend suggested I buy a leather jacket at the mall. “I just feel like this is more you,” they said. “I mean, you listen to grunge music, and you act so tough all the time. I just feel like the way you dress doesn’t actually match who you are on the inside.”
But blanket scarves and muted pinks and peasant tops are a part of me, just as much as a slick leather jacket. People aren’t binary; I’m grunge and glitter and tomboy all rolled into one girl. And I’m tired of the stereotype that women who like fashion or makeup or “feminine things” are shallow and dumb, or less deserving of respect and power than tomboys. It’s perfectly okay to be a girl or a woman who really doesn’t care much for pretty pink and princesses, but they’re no better than those who do. Girls can like pink and science. Or glitter and literature. And to be honest, I don’t think this binary really exists at all. I don’t know a single woman that fits into either one of those categories without overlap.
So why are we expecting little girls to?
My advice? Let them play with capes and tiaras. Maybe they’ll grow fond of both.