Why I Stopped Trying To Make My Daughter Pretty


My ten year old daughter Clare only likes to wear clothes from the boy’s section. Preferably a boxy, shapeless t-shirt with pictures of Spiderman or any other superhero on them. She always wears two braids. Always. Even to bed. Her hair is thick, blonde and gorgeous. Clare has beautiful, wide-set blue eyes, high cheek bones and long, slender limbs that remind me of a baby colt. I think she’s beautiful. She doesn’t care. She’s not interested in being beautiful.

Last year, I made her take her braids down for her class picture. It was an epic battle and I played dirty. I used psychoanalysis, telling her I was afraid her braids were like a security blanket (which I am) and that I wanted her to be comfortable in every Hair Iteration and that I didn’t want her to fall prey to bullies who might socially ostracize her (which is true), and to that end I was willing to bribe her with an Obi Wan Kenobe FX lightsaber that could have paid for a month’s worth of groceries.

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But underlying my bid for her emotional well-being, was the down-and-dirty truth: I wanted her to look pretty in her school pictures, her cascading hair framing her face, so I could show her off to friends and relatives.

On picture day, she wouldn’t actually wear her hair down. She wore it in ponytails, then took it down just for the picture. Apparently the entire 4th grade female student body had to witness this anomaly. Shrieking and cooing and telling Clare how gorgeous she looked. After the picture mission was complete, one of the little girls carefully, respectfully braided Clare’s hair for her.

When I got Clare’s school picture a month later, my mission was achieved. She did indeed look very pretty with her flowing locks. But she also looked, well, not quite like Clare.

I’m over it. I’m letting it go. My daughter doesn’t need to fulfill my vision of how she would look most beautiful. She doesn’t need to care about being beautiful. She DOES have to wash her hair at least once a week. There I will not budge. But my girl won’t define herself by her appearance the way I did. The way I still do.

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What defines her now are her passions: making weapons out of paper, learning to sketch manga characters by following tutorials online, playing a version of Dungeons and Dragons with her dad all night, reading The Hunger Games with me, playing the piano and taking up Judo. And so many more things she’s passionately interested in.

These kids man, they teach you how to live.

About the writer

Shannon Bradley-Colleary is a Beauty Maven, Mom Butler and Wife Dominatrix who blogs at TheWomanFormerlyKnownAsBeautiful and is slightly Mustachioed. She's contributed to The Huffington PostThe Today ShowCNNNPR and The Daily MailOnline. She's won BlogHer's Voices-Of-The-Year three years running. You can follow her cruel infamy by subscribing to her newsletter here or following her on Facebook.

From Around the Web


cut them down 10 months ago

you should just cut the girls locks cause it will get messy soon!!

Misty 1 year ago

My eldest dd was the same, except it was sweatshirts and a ponytail. I worried so much about her! It seemed as though she only had two friends at school, and she was so sensitive that I was terrified she’d be bullied by the other kids. But I figured it is what it is and stopped worrying, and when I did I realized something remarkable. She truly did not care what any of the other kids thought of her! And what’s more, all the other children realized this and went out of their way to be nice to her. If she missed a day of because she was sick, her classmates and even other, older kids would crowd around me when I went to pick up her sister and ask if she was ok and when would she be back. Even when she was in high school, I could ask almost any kid there if they had seen her and where, and they not only knew her, but could usually point me in the right direction! I didn’t push her in any way about how she dressed or fixed her hair, and when she started eighth grade she decided she wanted to wear contacts instead of her glasses and asked me to show her how to apply makeup. She even had her nails done and wore false eyelashes to her JROTC ball and the prom, with no prompting from me. Her sister was a diva lol and could talk her into trying new things, and would drag her along to ball games and school events by acting like her feelings were hurt if she didn’t go. She was married two years ago, and was the most beautiful bride I’ve ever seen, only equaled by her sister at her own wedding a few months later. And most importantly, she has the most beautiful soul you could ever imagine.

Peggy 1 year ago

After 2 boys, I really enjoyed dressing my daughter in the frilliest clothes I could find, and lots of pink. When she got old enough to pick out her own clothes, she became the “tomboy”. She has been beautiful to me in all her stages, and still is. I tried to teach her that what you do and how you act is so much more important than how you look. She must have believed it, because her career now is helping abused and neglected children. She dresses up so beautiful for work, and still enjoys her “grubby” clothes at home. She also has made a home for and takes care of me and her dad since we retired.

Evan Hughes 1 year ago

I was raised by a single mom. When I got to my rebellious stage, I grew my hair out; not to rebel against her or anyone, because I got in to the whole grunge thing, but on a certain level I hoped I would meet resistance. Such is adolescent childishness.

My mom supported me in all of it.. The only time she laid down the law was when I tried to shave the sides of my head for a mohawk.

Now, as an adult, I see how much sexier I look with a traditional hairstyle to most women.

The most important lesson is to be yourself. The rest might come and go, but as long as you’re happy, you’ll find yourself.

If you find yourself being that 27 year with a spiked Mohawk, more power to you. But most people get past such superficial expressions of themselves.

Basically, who gives a shit? How much do you care if they do?

Rachel Khan 1 year ago

How sad that she felt that way originally.

Sarah Juttner 1 year ago

I do want my child to know appearance is important… she can wear whatever she wants but be presentable…. I wish a lot more people took pride in their appearance…. including myself! I am definitely working on getting ready every day…. and not going out without my hair done and yoga pants left at home…

Adriana Allt 1 year ago

I loved this article because it’s true! I tried with my daughter but I gave up soon because I remember how i hated dressing up as a child ( of course that change lol) but as a child i was obligated..and i was was not girlish at all…and it seems like my daughter it’s the same and im glad!! W are not here to only teach as a parent, we are here to be thought by our own kids too and some times we learn more from them than with any other human..

Nadine Healey 1 year ago

sometimes people need to realise their children are human beings and not dolls to be paraded around.

Britta Pischer 1 year ago

My daughter is the most feminine, stereotypical gurl you have ever seen … wants to wear dresses, always plays the nurturing role. I am however not stereotypically the most feminine women, I can dress up and be very elegant. But, I was raised a cowgirl and work in a male dominated industry. So I would have to agree genetics/nature plays a huge part in who we are. Isabella was also at home with me no siblings or day care to push her one way or another until after the age of 2. Everyone is an individual we should allow our children grow into the people they were meant to be.

Josie Baladez 1 year ago

While hormones definitely have an impact on a child’s gender roles, I feel society and culture has a much larger impact on them. The color pink used to be considered incredibly masculine and blue was seen as feminine because it was more “dainty”. Society changed its views on this and now it only seems natural for boys to gravitate towards blue and girls to pink. Dressing “pretty” is an opinion. Some people think that the “pretty” girl looks ridiculous with her hair and face done up so much.It’s hard to please everyone when they all want something different but if my daughter wants to wear a frilly dress today and then a superhero shirt tomorrow I don’t feel I should discourage or encourage either choice. It’s clothing, not gender reassignment surgery.

Danielle Bergum 1 year ago

I’m going to be ostracized for this… however, I feel in many cases there are also underlying hormonal concerns. We have gender roles because our male and female hormones trigger those desires. Yes, culture plays into things we like and dislike – but genetics are a large part of this… even to the colors we are drawn to. Many modern cultures are loaded with hormone-disrupting chemicals… not to include the vast amounts of medications in our cultures – especially during the childbearing years and gestational periods. It is both OK to encourage our daughter’s to be “pretty” because hormonally, this is natural – from a male and female perspective. Rather than constantly degrading our culture for what people like and dislike… I think people also need to look at why the past generation or two have different hormonal structures compared to that of the past. Considering, also, infertility rates…etc. Just offering a different perspective. Not for trying to change our children’s desires… but to realize that some of those gender roles are because of biology… what are we doing prenatally and pre-conception to affect this?

Elizabeth Rahbar 1 year ago

I love this! My toddler wears tutus and rain boots every chance she gets. My teenager prefers button downs, vans and long hair. It’s less of a battle to let them dress how they want as long as they shower properly and wear clean clothes.

Melanie Harpole Langer 1 year ago

I love it!!!!

Cheryl Bromley 1 year ago

How true…our children can be our best teachers.

Sara Navarrete 1 year ago

It takes to be a mom to get this. Before I would have been very judgmental about a little girl wearing jeans and rainboots in the middle of summer, but my kids have taught me to not be judgemental, and to those who still are being mothers, you just need to let your kids be. I love my kids uniqueness and self esteem.

Mikhaila Lamb 1 year ago

I don’t get why we have to put a label on kids. If they want their hair done, great, if not, who cares. Let them be who they want to be and stop saying oh they are a girly girl or a tom boy. They aren’t either of those things, they are unique. Right now my daughter is very young, almost 2, she loves having her hair done and she loves sparkly clothing but guess what, she also like to eat rocks and play in the dirt. I’ll follow her lead as she discovers who she is, not who I want her to be.

jgagnepain 1 year ago

Wow, your kid sounds awesome!

Federico 1 year ago

This was beautiful! Thanks for sharing :-)

Emma 1 year ago

I think it’s great that you’re accepting your daughter for who she is. As a child I dressed in what was comfortable, hated dresses, and loathed makeup. My family was constantly trying to dress me up. At family gatherings I was frequently trapped in a bathroom and covered in makeup and put in nice clothes. I also have very frizzy and curly hair that they would try to style endlessly.
All I learned was that I should be ashamed of how I dressed and it taught me that I wasn’t beautiful in my own skin.
As an adult, I am now beginning to wear some nicer and more feminine clothing, mostly due to the fact that I want clothing that fits and shows my figure well, especially since I need to look professional at work. However my childhood has made it difficult. Despite being constantly forced into feminine clothing and makeup, my family mocks me when I wear a dress or lipstick if my own accord, therefore I never learned how to dress in a feminine or professional way. Moving out has made it easier, since they can no longer see what I’m wearing most days.
The best thing for your child is to let them look how they please. If they choose to change they wont be embarrassed about it, and they will learn to be confident in their appearance.

Jordan Fisher 1 year ago

I am not a mother, hoping to be one some day (definitely not now) but I completely know how this feels from the perspective of a “different” 17 year old. I think I look my best in wigs, with vertical striped pants and black lipstick. Or pink go go boots. Or in a fluffy princess dress. My mother never understood my style but she always accepted that what I wear, I think is beautiful even if it is not what other people define as. I love the fact that your little girl feels confident to say she feels pretty with out having to dress like it! Your daughter is what I wish to have <3 or at least a confident little ball of fierce.

DubyaWife 1 year ago

Truly… from the bottom of my heart… Thank you for this article. Change the names and a few of the details and you have my daughter, my video game, poetry-writing, sword collecting, D&D playing, boys clothes wearing girl. I’m not giving up on making her beautiful, I’m redefining my idea of beauty. Cause she already IS beautiful. No change needed. Thank you again.

Amanda Wasylik Geer 1 year ago

I enjoy reading her blog, so cool to see her on SM. Thanks!

Jennifer Slipakoff 1 year ago

A friend forwarded this post to me and it tugged at my heart strings. We have the opposite situation in our home. We now have a 6-year-old daughter (who used to be our son). We have embraced her, loved her, supported her, and given her a soft place to land and I’m so happy to see other parents doing the same for their children who are trying to just be themselves. It is truly inspiring!

Jodi 1 year ago

I think colors are colors period, I really don’t believe there is one special color for a boy and one special color for a girl! I recently bought my 3 year old son a pink wading pool because it was the one with crabs on it, the blue one just had sharks and whales, and he loves crabs, so pink it was!!

Amber Turner 1 year ago

Great article! What made me sad about my own daughter’s appearance was that fact that she loved being girly and wearing pretty clips in her hair…. until 1st grade when girls started telling her she was a baby for not looking for boyish. She LOVED wearing a dress every day in Kindergarten. That all started to change and so did her confidence. She broke out in rashes we ended up taking her out of school for more than one reason and found an alternative school and homeschool her the rest of the time. She likes wearing dresses again and noone at her new school calls her names.

Sharon 1 year ago

I have a 6 year old boy who loves rainbows and glitter, always has. And that is fine with me. I also have a niece who wears all her brothers hand-me-downs. I would not even try to change them. It’s who they are and I love them just the way they are.

Katherine 1 year ago

I’m totally with you! My son’s favorite color has been pink for more than a year (age 2-3), and we bought him a few pairs of pink shoes during this time period because of it. But recently he just said pink was for girls. He didn’t want to drink out of a pink cup in the house until his dad said, “well then I’ll drink out of it,” in order to model a man doing it. I’m so sad that society “got” to my boy, even though I knew it was inevitable. It’s time to get him another pair of shoes and now he said he wants green. I’ll continue to encourage/foster his girliness just because if he does like certain things I know no one else (society) will. Though most of the time he is very stereotypically “boy.” I just think he’s sort of a renaissance man and is into girl things sometimes as well.

As for the OP and her daughter, I’m so glad she was able to learn something from her.

Viviana Pino 1 year ago

I grew up wearing my brothers clothes Lol… so I wear dresses now but not really. I almost never wear make up. My daughter is a big tomboy who wears a costume on her birthday parties! Its all fun and what ever makes people happy :)

Sharon 1 year ago

>>What defines her now are her passions<<
And this is how boys/men are allowed to live EVERY SINGLE DAY!

Roshni 1 year ago

Man, I wish my mom had read this article when she was battling with me to wear cute lacy dresses with matching jewelry!! :)

Doni 1 year ago

My 11yo went from long hair to a pixie (100% her choice). Her hair is thick and totally straight, so her “pixie” doesn’t have a hint of feminine to it. Anyone who doesn’t already know her assumes she’s a boy. It bothers me WAY more than I’d like to admit and I’ve tried talking her into growing her hair out a bit before she gets to junior high next fall (with a ton of kids she doesn’t know). She said, “Mom, I’ll just wear a flowery headband and dress on the first day of school, then everyone will know I’m a girl.” I know that if she’s okay with it, I have to get over it — I just really don’t want her to get bullied in any way.

Katena Legear Wehrmeister 1 year ago

My niece was the same way.played sports all through school,never fixed up,dressed like a boy.Her last year of high school she changed.You should see how beautiful she is now

Vanessa Serrano 1 year ago

My daughter is ok with the clothes I get her as long as they are pink. But she refuses to wear her hair down. I try to get her to play with dolls but she is only interested in play doh and super Mario games. I just let her be…

Avril 1 year ago

Your daughter sounds just like how I was, and I would have given anything for my mother to have come to this realisation… at anytime, ever.

I had the inverse of this lesson with my own daughter. I was so determined that I wouldn’t force her to be girly and “pretty”, that I would never make her wear pink or force her to play with dolls, or forbid her to choose toys from the “boys” section of the store (all things I experienced as a kid). So determined was I that I completely missed (for 3.5 years) that my little girl was going to daycare and crying because I’d “dressed her like a boy” in jeans and t-shirts, wishing that she could just have a babydoll instead of only stuffed animals, desperate for a Disney princess dress… Once I realised what I was doing, I backed way off. I now have the pinkest princess of the lot – she’s not obsessed with being the most beautiful, she is just delicate and girly by nature. And you know what? She taught me that it was okay to be that way, too.

Cat 1 year ago

My mom kind of tried to get me not to wear “boy clothes” when I was in middle school. She would only ever get me “girl shirts” because she says I have such a nice figure and it’s a shame for me not to show it. Just the other day she was telling me how happy she is that I wear form-fitting clothes now. But I still love my baggy shirts and tripp pants meant for boys rather than the ones that are too tight and meant for girls. I’ve never understood why it was a problem though. What I wear has never been about showing off my figure or showing off anything really. It’s just what I’m comfortable in. :) No clothes are “for boys” or “for girls.” People should just wear what they like and what they’re comfortable in.

Goran Vlatka Flegar 1 year ago

bigggg likeee

Kristy H 1 year ago

This sounds exactly like my daughter! 3 years ago, she loved pink, loves Barbies and dolls, loved to play in my makeup, asked me to fix her hair and enjoyed wearing dresses and skirts. Now, at age 11, her favorite color is brown, her favorite toys are Minecraft things and Pokemon figurines, I have to force her to put chapstick on her chapped lips, because you know, it’s like lipgloss, noooo! She fights me to brush her hair every morning, you should see the knots I’ve had to cut out, but, she doesn’t care, she wants to be herself, even if Mom doesn’t like it! Every once in awhile, I’ll catch her trying on her dresses and she still does love to clomp around in my heels, for a tomboy, she walks EXTREMELY well in them! As much as I love my little princess she used to be, I also love even more seeing her become her own person. She doesn’t care what other people think of her, she says, Im happy and thats all that matters to me! Theres a little part of me that still hopes one day she will go back to being a girly girl, but if not, thats ok, as long as she’s happy and is being herself!

Junior Sabi 1 year ago

as I grow up I did not understand why my mum wanted me to wear those kinds of clothes…they made me look like a boy…Even today I so love wearing tekkies,jeans and T-Shirts and high heels are just not my every day thing..

Tara 1 year ago

I’m good at this stuff, but only because my own family loves the daughter/sister they wish they’d had, not the one they’ve got. Every time I see them with DD10 mo, it’s an issue. So much, that I don’t see them much anymore. They think I’m a drama queen because I call them out on trying to pigeonhole my daughter/their granddaughter with their expectations and insecurities. It’s as though they can’t comprehend that someone who is closely related can be a liability.

Sue Jones 1 year ago

I so agree with not forcing my daughter to be something that is just not her. She’s an individual, and at the age of 3, she already has her own “style”. I am not a foofoo mommy, but if she wants to be a princess one day and a tomboy the next….fine with me kiddo!

Judy Patterson Valenta 1 year ago

Yup, let her be her. Let her wear what she wants at ten. I sewed for my daughter, so every year we made it fun to go to the fabric store for patterns and fabric, then lunch. I wanted a bit of frill, she didn’t. I gave in easily. Because she had a say, no problems getting dressed each day. Besides, when I see the kids today, it’s mostly t-shirts and pants.

Kim Shaw Ball 1 year ago

Boy, I wish I would have read this BEFORE tonight’s painful shopping trip where I MADE my daughter go shopping for a cute little outfit to wear for honors day at school. Now I feel incredibly guilty for making her buy that dress. It’s just that I was seeing everyone’s photos on Facebook with their daughters looking all girly and feminine and pretty. I longed to post pics of my daughter looking all girly and feminine and pretty. She’s happy in jeans and a t shirt…her hair in a pony tail…usually secured with a pony tail holder that doesn’t even coordinate with ANYTHING she is wearing. I guess I happened upon this article at just the right time I am so sorry sweetie, for trying to make you fit into my idea of what is “pretty”. You are beautiful just the way you are. And with so many young girls today obsessed with the way they look, it is very refreshing to know you do not feel the need to define yourself by your appearance! I love you just the way you are…and you can wear jeans and a t-shirt to honors day if you want!!!

Lindy Easter 1 year ago

I love that my girls want to go to the bookshop not the clothes shop! What you look like should be irrelevant, being a nice person is much more important.

angela 1 year ago

This is beautiful. My younger daughter is super girly girl as I have always been myself. But my older daughter is the opposite! I fight just to get her to wear a dress for christmas and easter. I let her pick her own outfit this year for picture day. It was a tshirt with cartoom rock paper scissors on it. Not my first choice but as I looked at her sisters perfectly girly photo and then her not so girly one I realized just how perfect it was. She was smiling from ear to ear. She was beautiful and perfect without having to be girly girl! She’s 11 and loves mustaches and bright orange converse. She has incredible talent and is smart as a whip! She is perfectly imperfect and has tought me so much about what it means to truely live!

Melissa Adams 1 year ago

My 9yo is the same! I’m learning to let it go!

Randi Puckett 1 year ago

My mom did the same thing when I was small. She was worried because my aunts and grandma disapproved of me reading and playing sports. All my cousins were girly girls and my aunts taught them if they were cute, they could get their way. The day I became a full blown scientist and completely independent of anyone taking care of me and knowing I will never need to enter a relationship with a person out of requirement was the day they all said my mom did it right. Thanks mom!!!

Stephen Deeann Allen 1 year ago


Nicole Pruitt 1 year ago

I was this little girl. Hair, makeup and fashion is out. I wore jeans to my cousins wedding. A couple weeks ago I had an interview I had to dress up for and I hated it so bad I cried the entire time I was getting ready. Jeans, T-shirt and tennis shoes for me while I rock the ponytail.

Sarah Thompson 1 year ago

My almost eight year-old is the same. No pink, hearts, flowers, hair bows. Wants only to wear primary colors and have her hair down. The occasional desire for high heels or makeup happens, but she’d rather play handball with the boys over house with the girls. I stopped fighting it about a year ago.

Susan Howard 1 year ago

Agreed! My son is only 10 months old, but he loves his sister’s MLP toys and seems to really like pink. He’s a baby now, but if he still likes those things when he is older that will be fine with me.

Megan 1 year ago

I have a beautiful little 6 year old with blonde hair nearly down to her bottom who likes dinosaurs and construction equipment and getting dirty. I can’t get her to wear pretty dresses or play dolls but she throws a mean right hook in karate. And despite being the smallest in karate and school, she can keep up like nobody’s business. So I guess it’s for the best that she’s a bit rough and tumble because her big personality makes up for the tiny package it comes in. But the first thing everyone says about her is that she definitely matches to the beat of her own drum and I’m all for that!

Amy Redmond Kilpack 1 year ago

I needed to read this today! One of my girls could care less about her gorgeous curly hair! Thanks for the reminder that it’s ok to be yourself!

Nicole 1 year ago

I so completely get this. My daughter is exactly the same way. 10 years old, big blue eyes, long blond hair that she refuses to cut even though it is ALWAYS in a ponytail, 98% of the time in jeans or jean shorts, and absolutely hates being complimented. Oh, and the battle over taking showers…every. time. I’m always straddling that middle ground between letting her be who she wants to be, and bribery, pleading, and protecting.

Cristal Jasmine Markham 1 year ago

Felt like i was reading about my daughter such a little tomboy haha

Joanne Coy 1 year ago

Great lesson…something I’ve only recently learn ed myself with my 14yr. old.

Shannon Bradley-Colleary 1 year ago

Hey Ellen – I often wonder if she’s rebelling against my always looking put together. Once she asked me, “Mom, why do you always have to be pretty?” I thought about it a moment then replied, “Because it makes me happy.” Who knows?

Jayne Frain Montgomery 1 year ago

Needed this today

Amy H 1 year ago

As a mom of a beautiful tomboy i too have learned to let go and let her be who she is. She always wears the same headband in has for the last 3 years. Won’t Change it even for another headband! She loves her star wars and ninjas. She it’s constantly reminding me “Mom I have my own style!” I love her! Thanks for posting this :-)

Erin ‘Mullins’ Klassen 1 year ago

Light sabers and D&D? A gal after my own heart :)

Margarita Miranda 1 year ago


Debby 1 year ago

OMG!!! this totally describes my 8 year old to a T!! She just recently cut off 11 inches of her hair to donate to Locks of Love because she was tired of the tangles. She too kept her hair in either one or two braids all the time to minimize the tangle issue. She also plays with fire trucks, matchbox cars and roots for the underdog in everything she watches. She has a litany of ideas of what she wants to be when she grows up. They mainly center around “male” orientated careers, doctor, lawyer, fire chief, race car driver etc but you get the point. There is nothing that she won’t try to accomplish regardless of the gender assigned to it. But that is what makes her my special child. She is my mini-me. I too was a tomboy, hell, I still am at times. And thanks to my father instilling in me the desire to be who I want to be and not what media and society tells me I should be I can now pass that on to my middle child with the hope that she will take that idea and run!!

Katie 1 year ago

I was one of those girls. I wore whatever I wanted and was more interested in ‘boy things’. It wasn’t a phase for me, but it also doesn’t completely exclude femininity. Although, I am worried that, if I ever have a daughter, she’ll be a girly girl.

I have a 15 month old son. He loves pink. I’ve gotten a few weird looks for letting him have ‘girly’ sippy cups or buying him little pink toys, which is absolutely ridiculous. It’s just a gorram color!

Good for you for letting her be herself!

Casandra Staggs 1 year ago

My grandma is the one that forced the “pretty” issue. Poofy dresses (matching with my little sister!), uncomfortable shoes, sleeping with my hair in rollers… I hated it. Oh, and getting yelled at because everyone could see my panties when I played on the jungle gym. We fought tooth and nail about my tomboy tendencies, but here I am, 34 years old with a perfectly fine female identity. I even know how to fix up my hair and makeup real pretty when I want 😉

Vanessa Hahn 1 year ago

One day the world will tell her she needs to be beautiful, she doesn’t need it from her mom. Glad you can accept her for her. That’s what she really needs.

Mary Armistead Zyk 1 year ago

My twelve year old is the exact same way, She absolutely refuses to ever wear a dress, loves wearing cargo pants and crocs. She’s all about legos and skateboards, minecraft and riding her trick bike. Wouldn’t trade her for the world ♥

Jayme 1 year ago


She states AT LEAST once a week. Sometimes we do take what we can get when it comes to showers and hair washing. She didn’t say what she did was right and realized her error. She put it out there and you criticize her for it. Bravo.

My step-daughter came for the kids birthday and did my daughters hair in a fishtail side braid. Seriously epic moment. My daughter was hard pressed to take that out to wash her hair, because I can not duplicate the fishtail braid her teenage sister can. I let it go for almost a week, before it had to be taken out and washed and not simply wetted in the shower. We are all still alive and well I assure you no one has become infected from the unwashed hair. AT LEAST once a week will do.

Marisa Ammerman 1 year ago

My daughter is 10 and the same. She’s gorgeous and has no idea. She doesn’t fit into the blond beach look that most do here, she’s so unique with her beauty. Her time will come but for now I’m glad she doesn’t fit in with the norm.

Heather Workes 1 year ago

Great message all mom’s need to read.

Joanne Gauthier 1 year ago

“But my girl won’t define herself by her appearance the way I did. The way I still do.”
Apparently I’m the only one who both reads AND showers every day. But, whichever. Carry on.

Kelsey Michelle Fry 1 year ago

This will be my life soon enough. I have a skinny blind haired, blue eyed 2 year old little girl.

Chelsea 1 year ago

Not to mention she also rocks AC/DC, Green Day, Led Zepplin, Avenged Sevenfold, Poison, etc on her electric guitar. Proud, proud mama here! :)

Chelsea 1 year ago

You could have been describing my daughter to a T! My daughter is now 14, she’s incredibly intelligent, a mind blowing artist, a mentor to younger classmates, and honor roll student. But she prefers her anime t-shirts, dark jeans, converse and fedora hats to anything ‘girlie’. Once in a blue moon she will dress up for a school dance, but prefers comfort and is a tomboy just like I was and still can be. I’ve never tried to change what she likes. How could I? All I want is for my incredible, fantastic, creative girl to be who she is, herself.

Sarah Kimmel Cenedella 1 year ago

I have sort of an opposite problem. My daughter is 2 and is so super girly. Pink sparkly everything, princesses and “party shoes.” I just want to put her in some jeans (which she refuses) and sneakers (which she will only wear under duress) and go out to play in dirt.

Jennifer 1 year ago

“I was willing to bribe her with an Obi Wan Kenobe FX lightsaber”

If you were going to bribe her for it, at least you did it in style! Twenty-six years old here, and I’d have seriously considered taking that bribe.

Cam Comey 1 year ago

Super hard lesson to learn! Her daughter is an amazing person to be able to help her to see past years of social and media brainwashing! I think they will both live a very happy life of learning and growing together! Thanks for sharing <3

Jayme 1 year ago

This is my daughter. Boys Minecraft shirts, Spiderman, and the list goes on. Yesterday we were prepping to go out to dinner for Mother’s Day. I wanted to make sure she looked cute. Now mind you she is me at that age and a lot to this day. I am not the girly girl and I tried to “dress up” for the day and ended up in jean capris and a brown t-shirt, but there is some illusion that our girls must look cutesy or whatever. My daughter likes a side braid ALL THE TIME. So as I was in picking out her clothes prior to her getting out of the shower (also a requirement in our household). I looked at the floral dress, the cute whatevers hanging there. Shaking my head saying that is just not “my girl”. So I grabbed the black skort, pink fluorescent shirt that would match her new high tops (high kicks as she calls them) and let go of the cutesy in order to let me girl be herself.

I remember and still to this day feel as though I wasn’t the daughter my mom wanted. She wanted the tea party girl who played Barbies and dressed up. Instead she got the daughter who hated Barbies and wanted my Hulk tv tray. I refuse to be that mom to my daughter or to my son for that matter. I was all psyched to have the football player son, since I wanted to be that and couldn’t. Instead I got the geeky boy who knows all about Marvel and Dr. Who and can beat any video game placed in front of him. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I got the children I was suppose to have vs. what I thought I should have in my mind.

Bravo to you mama for embracing also and loving her for her and not who we have thought them to be. My daughter isn 8 and son 16 and all I want them to be is the best they can be at being them.

Kelly Mitch Norton 1 year ago

I haven’t ever tried to make her pretty. She does it all on her own.

Kate Stukenborg Wiltsie 1 year ago

Great post!

Jennifer Clark Jones 1 year ago

This pretty much sums up my daughter, girly in the right places, but loves to get down and dirty! But then again, she’s smashed in between two geeky brothers, so it’s cool. :)

Elise Brown Prickett 1 year ago

I have a feeling this will be my daughter and I’ll have to remind myself of this too.

Sharon 1 year ago

I feel you on this one. My 12 year old daughter is a bad a## hockey player who has NO interest in the girlier side of life. She wears her gorgeous (and I mean GORGEOUS) hair in a ponytail nearly everyday and jeans and t-shirts are the norm. I too have given up on forcing her to be something she isn’t (except for my recent wedding, she had to wear a dress for an hour!) so kudos to you for recognizing who she is…not just your daughter but a little person with her own personality!

Mallory Rempp 1 year ago

This is just perfect.

Mallory 1 year ago

Oh, this is so perfect I can’t even explain. My daughter is 5 months and I’m already trying to break my entire family of the whole “you’re so pretty!” comments every time they see her. Or the pink. Good lord, the pink. Hey, don’t get me wrong, if she wants to wear pink when she can choose what she wants to wear, she’s more than welcome. I want her to be her. But I also don’t want to force the “girliness” down her throat. We’ve got enough crap to worry about as women, raising my daughter to believe that “pretty” is the main commodity to gain is NOT what I want for her.
So thank you. You’re just wonderful.

Kimberly Webb 1 year ago

All of my daughters wear their brothers’ sports themed/superhero cast offs as well as their pink flowers and lavender butterflies ‘girly’ clothing. It is not an issue for us because I don’t push/encourage personality/ interests in either direction…play with dolls? Fine. Play in the dirt with trucks? Fine. I don’t care either way because there are more important things that I feel they should be learning/concerned with…I teach them(boys and girls) to be kind but not a pushover, be smart but a not know-it-all, be independent but not an isolated island.

Margo 1 year ago

My only daughter is almost 11. When she was little I did her hair up cute and dressed her cute every day. She put a stop to it around the age of 3-4 and hasn’t let me dress her or do her hair since. I had her in dance when she was little too. She put a stop to that around age 6. She is a tom-boy through and through, playing soccer and now taking Karate and LOVING it. She has long beautiful hair that she wears down and straight every single day. I have encouraged her to let it grow long because it is beautiful and she loves it that way, she just doesn’t like to do anything with it other than wear it straight down. She won’t even wear ponytails or braids.

I have accepted that she won’t be a dancer like I was, nor at this point does she care much about what she wears or how she looks. She wears jeans, t-shirts and tennis shoes every day of the year! She likes to shop in the boys section, we often buy her basketball shorts, T-shirts and shoes there. She never played with dolls or barbies or painted her nails and she refuses to wear dresses!

She is her own unique individual and love this about her! She is beautiful inside and out! But it took me a while to get to this acceptance. I so very much wanted a little “girly-girl” like I was. BUT…I would rather have a daughter who knows what she wants and goes after it, and my daughter does. She is confident in who she is and I love this about her! She has just as many “guy” friends as she does “girl” friends and she is just as content to spend time on her own as she is with others. She loves to be outside, she loves sports, she loves to ride bikes & scooters and go camping and fishing!

I am so proud of my daughter for being who she wants to be and as she approaches puberty I sincerely hope she continues to have the confidence she has now in who she is!

Jennifer Williams 1 year ago

I have a very girly girl,you say party and she says dress lol but with all that being said she can hold her own,fierce,a lot of cheek,would I change her no,she is who she is x

Robin Ann Garcia 1 year ago

Yup kids definitely teach you how to live

tara M4B 1 year ago

Bc boys who play with dolls might grow up to be …. DADS *GASP* who would have thought …. Lol.
I have 4 boys and u get bugged relentlessly about the amount of dolls in my house. . That line usually shuts ppl up quick.

Jessie Wotachek 1 year ago

I let my kiddos pick out their clothes also, within reason. I tell them if it has to be “warm” or “cold” and there they go. Sometimes it’s stained, sometimes it doesn’t “match” at all in my mind’s eye, sometimes it’s perfect. Sometimes they want me to “do” their hair, sometimes they want to do it all by themselves. If they choose to go to school with three pony tails, 7 clips, and a headband, so be it. They are hurting no one. If we try to shape them into society’s picture of beautiful, we are all doomed. The beauty comes from within them and from teaching them that whatever they and the people around them choose to be/do is perfect and beautiful for them, and to respect that difference in each other.

Jenelle w. 1 year ago

I try very hard to remember this with my boys (first girl due in jun). My epiphany came when I was a teenager and watched my beautiful cousin struggling to keep her bandana over her ears while working with animals (4-H). I reached over, tightened the bandana behind her ears, and she flipped out. NO! My mom hates my ears I have to be pretty if she sees me! …WOW! My 16yo heart broke for her (and still does). I try everyday to never make anyone feel like that. Esp my kids. Great article. Thank you!

Richa Wilson 1 year ago

Loved this. I have learned to say, this too shall pass.

Gina Santos 1 year ago

Lol reminds me when my mom used to make my hair pretty and made me wear fluffy big dresses. I hated all of that, I felt like a big balloon an I just wanted my hair down because it felt better. Having it up hurt. I was a tomboy anyway and I felt better.

Lacy Duesterhaus 1 year ago

Loved this story. I feel that it is so important to tell our kids that they are smart, and clever, and honest, instead of telling them they are handsome or beautiful. It will help them in the long run if they are honed in on their personality traits rather than what’s on the outside. Just my two cents.

Michelle 1 year ago

I meant daughter.

Michelle 1 year ago

I have a DNA just like this and I was so worried that people would make fun of her for wearing boy clothing. Then I realized that it didn’t matter. She is who she is and I love her. Plus girls clothing(shorts) are so short now that I wouldn’t buy them even if she wanted me to.

Carol Camicia 1 year ago

Let each kid be their ownself.

Kathy Dede-Lapine 1 year ago

Be and let be:$

Chantal Granger 1 year ago

My girls like all things girly yet they also like mud and trucks. My oldest wears more dresses and skirts not because I am trying to make her girly but she is so skinny it is very hard to find clothes that fit her she is a size 7 lenght wise for pants but a size 3 waist wise very had to find pants to fit. I dont make them sit pretty and play with dolls she may be in a dress but also in rubber boots and covered in mud

Meru Äray 1 year ago

I love this SO freaking hard. It almost made me cry because my 7 year old is almost the same way. This was a struggle for me too and like you, I realized a while ago that I was just being ridiculous. And wanting her to dress more girly was me projecting my stuff on to her. And you’re right. These kids……boy do they really teach us how to live and love unconditionally. Great post! ♡♡♡♡

Chrissy Burke-Marker 1 year ago

Oh does this sound familiar, aside from the braids mine wants hers down all the time…No ponytail, no pink, no “girly” stuff. She is more than happy with her brothers hand me downs….

Jackie Rawal 1 year ago

This reminds me of my beautiful daughter…now 22 ,letting me know what she was and wasnt wearing before the age of 2!!! She still definitely has her own style …how it should be

Jenny Quintal-Macleod 1 year ago

My Elle is definitely her own, super independent little person and she is awesome :)

Connie 1 year ago

Shannon – your daughter sounds so much like me at that age!! I wore breads and baseball hats!! I was such a tomboy and pretty much still am! Only difference – I do wear make up!! I would rather be in tee-shirts, shorts and tennis shoes then skirts and heels!

She sounds amazing just the way she is!! She healthy, has an imagination, and caring – that is what matters in the long run. Embrace her. She will change the world her way!!

Enjoy the ride!!

Kendra E. King 1 year ago

I’m working on this right now with my fiercely independent, tomboyish 2 year old. And you know, I would rather see her happy, a truck in one hand and mud covered…being who she is as opposed to a princess in frilly pink and miserable. She’s my heart. Her being happy is what matters.

Tee Comeaux 1 year ago

Erin…. It doesn’t matter what a scientist looks like! Lol! This will be Ava!

Becci Wendler 1 year ago

Love this.

Randi Chesney 1 year ago

How about you not be judgmental Joanne…she realized her mistake even though I don’t even want to call it that…
We all learn everyday even as adults….
Must be exhausting to be so damn perfect!

Jo-Ann Titone Bellavance 1 year ago

I am learning this with my 10yr old daughter right now!

Sarah Fritz-Maldonado 1 year ago

I teach my daughter pretty nails pretty feet pretty dress and some shorts underneath to get down and dirty… Yup I put her in the grass or mud to play all dressed up… Who cares clothes can be washed as long as she’s having fun go for it

Marcia Arbizu 1 year ago

Folks, I was one of those unpretty girls. My mother was terrified when I wanted a three piece boy’s suit to go to Easter mass in when I was 10 and cried. However my mom never forced combed hair, pretty dresses, and makeup on me. She allowed me to grow into the role I wanted to be as a woman. I am not prissy, perfectly combed and manicured. I dress nice for work. fix my hair, and wear light makeup. I love the outdoors, hunting, fishing, and sports. Its always been my passion. Now, softball is my daughter’s passion. She has her makeup and wears it when she goes out, curls her hair but I love that on weekends, she’s wearing dirty clothes, and I can see the traces of the orange dirt on her face with her beautiful dark almond shaped eyes staring back at me. She’s shows a different kind of grace when I see her run the bases or swing at a ball like a pro. She will grow up strong, beautiful, and happy. Just as God and I intended.

Melanie Williams 1 year ago

Love this!

Karin Siccardi 1 year ago

My 10-year old is EXACTLY like this!!

Mikki 1 year ago

Love love love this! We put too much pressure on our children to conform to our own ideals. I just want my kids to be happy and feel comfortable with themselves. You are doing a great job mama!

Licho Flores 1 year ago

I don’t teach her how to be pretty or fierce…. I teach her to be classy and respectable the rest will follow

Joanne Gauthier 1 year ago

So… her mother saved her from being bullied by bullying her? What if mom was forced to wear braids a day? I still don’t think mom gets it. Accept your children for who they are.
Also, once a WEEK? *blink*

Michelle 1 year ago

I totally would have taken my braids down for the FX lightsaber, personally. Bravo for letting your girl be who she is while she’s young. I feel so sorry for the girls whose moms try to push “their” version of beauty on them. I’m in my thirties and my mom still calls me to remind me to wear makeup. It’s never been my thing, never will be my thing and it sucks being told I’m beautiful in one breath when she still pushes things to make me “more beautiful” in a way she understands.

Licho Flores 1 year ago

My perfect camo wearing beautiful daughter!

mommabean 1 year ago

Your Clare sounds just like my Maggie. Thank you for the reminder that, while her physical beauty takes my breath away sometimes, her determination and will to be true to herself despite what others may think about what it means to be a girl, is really what is most beautiful about her.

Vickie Curtin Mabey 1 year ago

parenting……where the “tests” are daily and there is no actual curve to it. Good for you, and good for Claire

Caryn Dauffenbach Johnson 1 year ago

I allow my daughter to wear whatever she picks out of her dresser, yes I buy clothes that are appropriate for her age, but whether it matches or not, or how she wants me to do her hair, I do not dictate. I will not dull her sparkle, whatever kind it is. :) I have always, and will continue to teach my kids, boys and girls alike, that the most important thing is to be true to yourself, BE YOU!!!

RayandJackie Guy 1 year ago

Today my daughter says she’s a girl, yesterday she was a boy. Oh well, she’ll always be my heart no matter what and she knows it.

Melissa 1 year ago

This is my 16 year old and my 12 year old daughters to almost a T.

I have always been a tom-boy, but also modeled, so I know how to “look pretty”. However having been a tom-boy (still) I know the comfort and self security that comes from dressing like a boy and not being “pretty”. Although, I have to say, My girls are gorgeous in boy clothes or not and that is something I have always stressed to them, that they are pretty as long as they are themselves. I love not feeling pressured to wear make-up or uncomfortable clothes (shoes – I wear Chucks) and I am proud of that. I have more superhero shirts and TMNT, or Goonies shirts than my son, and I am proud of that too. My kids learned about Star Wars and LOTR from me… I have never pressured my girls to be anything other than themselves, and I truly hope that they love themselves. My youngest daughter wears camo shirts, and cargo shorts to school most of the time (with her Chucks) and pays no mind to the other girls asking her why she never dresses “like a girl”, she just says, “I like to be comfortable”.

No one should have to fit into society’s box…

mandi0707 1 year ago

My daughter is 11 and has kept her hair in a bob since I first let her cut it at 4. My daughter is a gorgeous amerasian with big almond eyes and think long limbs and when her hair starts to grow I honestly can’t imagine anything more gorgeous. Not to mention her perfect hair that’s a honey brown and needs no attendance to turn out perfectly. I admit I find myself putting off her hair cut time so I can enjoy the the length. Her best friends mom refuses to let her daughter cut her hair and has never had it short. It isn’t allowed and I watch that little girl suffer about looks and beauty thinking that’s all there is in this life. So although I push off a haircut I do my best to make sure my girls are allowed to be themselves and ensure them they are gorgeous always. As defined by them not others and not society.

Cassandra Heaps 1 year ago

I didn’t teach my daughter to be pretty, I’ve taught her to be herself. She happens to enjoy dressing nice and likes her hair to look nice. She’s almost nine and when we go shopping I let her pick out some things she likes, within reason. Nothing inappropriate.

Wealisa Crawford 1 year ago

There comes a point when you have to let her be who she is going to be. This is my daughter…and i love her more with each breath i take!!

Jayme H. 1 year ago

I have been living with an eating disorder. I have a son and will soon be adding a daughter.

I am living my life now to not only tell my children that body/weight/looks do not define who you are, but to show them that as well.

Recovery always seemed just out of my reach. Now, every struggle is doable.

Barbara Fenton 1 year ago

Sounds like a pretty awesome kid.

Sarah Woodson Bernhardson 1 year ago

Loved this–I wish there was this same acceptance for boys who gravitate toward things that are usually seen as “girl things”.

Rachel 1 year ago

This goes the same with boys too. There is such an emphasis on boys to be boys. If my son wants a la la loopsy doll for Christmas then dammit, Santa is bringing him one! It’s a hard enough world out there for kids without mom and dad trying to change them, too.

I love the sentiment in this story, I wish more people had the same insight and would lay off their kids… Just let them be the wonderful little people that they are!

Donna Kistler 1 year ago

don’t teach our daughters to be pretty, teach them to be fierce <3

Audrey Morrison Mueller 1 year ago

That sounds just like my daughter. It feels good to let it go and let her be her own person :)

Jaclyn Womack 1 year ago

She sounds like she’s found her own beautiful, it just didn’t come in the form you planned. 😉

Kbjiara 1 year ago

I don’t have daughters (yet, I do hope to have one someday) but I remember when I was a kid, I was the girl that went to the birthday parties with a ponytail or braids or whatever except hair down. No dresses for me either, and I loved it then and love it more now that my mom didn’t force me into being girlie. I have a “masculine” career (safety, specialized in hazardous operations and materials) and wear very very short hair… and I’m happily married with a great man that loves the fact that I am myself, and that’s the best gift anyone can give to their children.

Thanks for the article, I had not thought of that… and in my dreams my daughter would be girlie and dressy and pretty and all, so I do appreciate this article so, beginning now, I can learn to love my children as they are and not as I want them to be.

Ellen 1 year ago

I’m in the same boat, and trying desperately to accept it. My 12 year old is gorgeous – long, lean legs with an adorable figure, which she insists on covering from head to toe, even in summer, flawless skin, and the thickest, most beautiful head of hair which she refuses to brush unless it’s to put in a pony tail. I always thought I had a pretty healthy self-image – I take care of myself but I don’t obsess. But I always wonder, what if I did this to her? Maybe my vanity is putting her off?? I need to be more accepting…

Shannon Bradley-Colleary 1 year ago

Hey Don’t Blame the Kids — I have a girly girl too and keep finding my lipstick in her backpack.

Shannon Bradley-Colleary 1 year ago

Thanks Sammi — she humbles me daily.

DontBlameTheKids 1 year ago

This was great, because I have a similar and yet totally opposite problem. My four-year-old is obsessed with pretty–not just for herself, but all the pretty things. Pink things. Pink to me is not pretty. I strongly dislike the color. But while I think she looks best in blue, she thinks it has to be pink. Like you, I will let her be herself. Even if herself is pink. (Maybe it is a phase, but I also realize I shouldn’t hope for that, because it really shouldn’t matter.)

Gemma 1 year ago

You are not alone in having a lovely child to whom practicality rules. My youngest daughter once asked the stylist to cut her some bangs “so my hair doesn’t get in my gum”. Her best friend was the boy down the street. Without any interference on my part in late gradeschool she did an about face, and suddenly started to girly her look up. I am glad she had those days to be thoroughly herself, whatever that was. It is the essence of childhood.

sammie 1 year ago

These kids man, they teach you how to live. ———–> YES. Exactly this.

Such a beautifully written post. Your daughter sounds like one amazing kid. She’s lucky to have you for a mom.