I'm Not Sorry For Encouraging My Daughter To Be 'Girly'

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When I was a little girl, I used to love looking through my mother’s clothes, shoes, and makeup. I would pick out outfits for her. It was the ’80s, and she had all kinds of silky, sparkly, poofy stuff—and her patent red leather heels! Those were my favorite. Enamored with fashion, I would pour through my Young Miss magazine and tear out all my favorite images to tape to my bedroom walls.

In 1985, I saved up my allowance for several months and bought myself a pair of Converse. They had to be pink. I owned hair bows and scrunchies in every color. I wanted to wear pantyhose and blue eyeshadow when I was 5. My mother did not let me do that, but she did embrace the fact that she had a very girly girl, and she let me do my thing.

Now I have a daughter of my own, and she is so much like I was it’s almost scary. She loves to shop with me and loves picking out outfits together. Sometimes she tells me what to wear and how to pose, then she’ll grab my cell phone and snap pictures of me. It is such a fun way for us to bond, and I enjoy it, but mostly, I enjoy watching my daughter being herself. I know some people might see fashion as frivolous or meaningless, but my daughter enjoys it, she’s passionate about it, and I feel so lucky that we have this small thing in common. I’m hoping it will help us maintain our bond when she reaches the tumultuous teenage years that are hovering right around the corner.

Yes, my daughter is what some would call a “girly girl.” She loves to dress up, she likes to dance, she wants to be a fashion designer, basketball player, and a veterinarian when she is older. And I encourage it—all of it. Not because she is so much like me, though I appreciate that we can connect over these things, but because this is who she is. It is who she has always been. From a very young age, she was drawn to Barbies, so I bought them for her. I also bought her a basketball hoop and cars. She likes those things, but not nearly as much as she likes her super-feminine stuff.

If my daughter were a tomboy, I would encourage that too. If she were super shy and wanted to stay home and read all the time, that would be just fine with me. I want all of my children to love themselves as they are and never feel ashamed for it. I want to encourage their strengths, their hobbies, and the things that they love.

As my kids get older and continue to evolve, I will be there to introduce them to new things, but I will always encourage their true loves, the stuff that keeps the fire burning in their belly. I never want them to feel like who they are or what they love is not good enough for me or anyone else. It only needs to be good enough for them.

So I will always support my daughter for being who she is, no matter what that looks like. I never want her to feel like she is not strong or smart just because she likes experimenting with clothes and shoes and cares about how she looks. I want her to feel empowered for many reasons, and this is only one of them.

I will also use my daughter’s love of fashion and all things “girly” to help teach her what is truly important—that being beautiful on the inside is what matters more than anything else. That how we feel about ourselves from within is what we are really putting out into the world regardless of whether we’re wearing our favorite outfit or a potato sack. Although, I have to say, and I’m sure my daughter will agree—rocking a cute pair of shoes never hurts.

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