Around the time that I became pregnant with Quinn, I attended the baby shower of a co-worker, who had found out that she was going to have a girl and who had told everyone.
Guess what the gift pile looked like?
Yep. You guessed it: Heaps of pink booties, pink headbands, pink onesies, pink blankets, and pink stuffed animals. There were hair bows and fuzzy socks. There were butterflies and hearts and glitter.
I just thought: Aw hheeeelllll no!
Why do we feel the need to suffocate our children in our gender expectations? Is a little girl not a girl if she’s not wearing a dress? If she’s not wearing pink? (Let’s not even get into how ridiculous it is to talk about the horror that she might grow up to be a “tomboy” — a term that is entirely objectionable in any context).
After I found out that we were expecting a girl, I decided I wasn’t going to tell anyone the gender of our baby. We waited until after our baby shower to tell anyone — precisely to avoid the kind of shit show I saw at that co-worker’s baby party.
Turns out that didn’t stop people.
I’ve been very conscientious about not dressing Quinn up like a little baby doll. Sure, she wears dresses. She wears pink. I’ve even been known to slap a head bow on her:
What I don’t want is to become so caught up in what it means for my child to be a “girl” that I start forcing gender expectations on her the moment she’s born. So I also dress her in lots of pants. And lots of blue. And all the other colors of the rainbow. Because they are clothes. Just clothes. She can wear footballs the same as she can wear flowers. She can wear trucks the same as she can wear hearts.
Despite all my good talk about gender equality, I’ve found myself becoming really annoyed by one thing lately: The overwhelming number of people who see her and say “What a handsome fella!” or just constantly refer to her as a boy. Even when she’s wearing pink! I want to say, “Don’t you people see her wearing a dress! She has a bow in her hair, for fuck’s sakes! Doesn’t that sufficiently meet your gendered expectations so you can at least stop calling her a boy?”
I don’t know why it bothers me. It shouldn’t. She is a lovely little lady, and she is lovely whether people think she looks like a girl or not. She has so much more potential and so much more value than the way she looks.
When people say these things, I try to just smile, nod and say “Thank you!” I don’t correct them.
Besides, I happen to think she looks adorable in a dress, even if she is a handsome fella: