Can a Feminist Mama Let Her Daughter Wear a Pink, Frilly Costume?

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It’s almost Halloween, the time of year when ladies dress up as “Sexy SpongeBob,” and little girls have costume options that are in no way weather appropriate. (It’s OCTOBER, you guys. You know what’s not sexy? Frostbite.)

But I have decided to let my daughter be whatever she wants this year, even if it’s pink and frilly and makes me gag.

Let me explain.

Much of the fury over children’s Halloween costumes comes in the pre-teen years and is aimed mostly at girls because that’s when the temptation to dress up as a “slutterfly” (my husband’s term) is at it’s highest. I don’t have pre-teens, so I can’t offer an opinion on that age group. I am also not going to get into the issue of young girl’s costumes being overly-sexualized, because that is a whole 'nother issue that makes me want to scream. I do, however, have a five-year-old girl, and the Halloween gender divide begins at about age two, after you’re done dressing them like pumpkins and lobsters.

My daughter is going to be Super Girl. We bought the costume at Target. (I am not a make-your-own-costume kind of gal unless you want to go as a hobo every year) She is psyched. Now, I love that she wants to be a powerful girl. Am I in love with the costume? Not so much. Could she possibly wear another color other than bright pink? For sure. Will she get any crime fighting done in those boots? Not likely. But frustration about the kinds of costumes available to little girls is my issue, not my daughter’s. I will not force her or even try to persuade her to dress up like Eleanor Roosevelt or Gloria Steinem (although, a five-year-old dressed as Gloria Steinem would be kick ass).

A friend of mine, Christie Tate from Outlaw Mama, wrote a fantastic post called “How to raise a strong female daughter while acting like a tool.” In it, she says,

“…the charade is over. I can’t pretend to love Home Depot more than Anthropologie, or that caulking the bathroom is more thrilling than giving myself a pedicure. I didn’t create the damn gender biases/problems/divisions so I’m not going to single-handedly fix them.”

A-to-the-men. I am raising my daughter, not a representation of gender equality. She is who she is, and if she loves pink and dresses and ponies, then so be it. I will support her. Because I was a little girl once, too. I loved playing with Barbies, and I loved pretending to be the damsel in distress who was rescued by her knight in shining armor. And I have called myself a feminist since the age of 12. It’s more important to me that my daughter continue to be the strong, brave, intelligent little girl that she is than whether or not she is drawn to the pink aisles at the store. I don’t ever want her to feel like those “girly” qualities are incompatible with strength and self-respect. I want her to know that she can be as “girly” as she wants and still be a bad ass.

Can a Feminist Mama Let Her Daughter Wear a Pink, Frilly Costume?
Credit: jeff_kontur.

I have always told my kids that there are all kinds of people in this world: all shapes and sizes, colors and religions, and likes and dislikes. I would be a hypocrite if that didn’t include feminists who wear pink, or independent young girls who love Disney princesses. I always tell my kids to be who they are, and, as Christie describes in her post, I model that for them by being who I am. I am a strong, intelligent, creative woman who also hates math, doesn’t even try to fix broken electronics, and is a stay-at-home mom. I can be all of that and a feminist, and someone who fights for women’s rights.

So this Halloween, my daughter will be trick-or-treating in a tiny pink cape and shiny pink knee-high boots. And I will stand behind her, hoping she gets a lot of Kit Kats.

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