A tweet went the rounds this week quoting an accomplished female athlete. She was asked in an interview if there was anything she didn’t play as a child and her derisive response, “Dolls.” As my finger hovered over the retweet button, I thought, But what’s wrong with playing with dolls?
Lately in society we are presented with two type of women: the princess type with a hair never out of place who wears heels everywhere and the nerd or athlete who eschews all things feminine. Growing up I had two older brothers and I despised anything that made me different from them. Luckily my mother felt boy toys could be for girls, too, and bought all of us remote control trucks (mine was white with a lift) and micromachines. My dad never thought to raise a boy different than a girl, and I did my share of feeding the cows and mucking out stalls. But because I asked for, I also receive Barbies, baby dolls, and dress-up clothes. (My brothers will deny it but they occasionally deigned to play dolls with me).
It never occurred to me that I had to choose between girl stuff or boy stuff.
When I turned twelve, it soon became apparent that I was different from my brothers and for many years I hated this. I saw nothing beneficial about being girl. That started to change one summer day. I was seventeen and saw a cute pair of shoes with heels and everything. I knew that I would never wear those shoes; I wasn’t that type of girl. But in a fit of craziness, I returned to the store and bought them, and wore them. Soon I discovered outfits and eventually makeup. It took a few years but somehow I found my feminine side.
By my senior year in college after having to live with girls (gasp), I learned I could be both the tomboy who rode horses, loved to camp, and play in the mud and the girl who played with dolls, dressed up, and danced around my room. It took almost twenty years to revert to my four-year-old self.
Today on television if a girl is beautiful and cares about clothes and makeup, she is stupid and vain. If she’s smart or athletic, she eschews all things feminine and wears a constant ponytail. Occasionally we see a woman who’s smart, capable, and beautiful but don’t worry she doesn’t care about hair or makeup, she wakes up looking gorgeous. But most real women live somewhere in between.
Even P!nk’s Stupid Girls video, which I still love mostly, has a girl throwing down a doll in favor of a football. But what’s wrong with either choice? Football can make you stronger and faster and playing with dolls can help develop your nurturing side.
Owning no makeup, keeping hair simple, and spending your life in sneakers doesn’t make you any less of a woman. But nor does wearing a dress and high heels make you any less strong.
Haven’t we earned the right as independent women to be who we want to be? Step out of the box.