The making of a little girl

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I’m not much of a girly-girl.  I don’t really do makeup, I don’t have a purse or shoe collection. The SAHM thing means I spend my days in jeans and t-shirts.

By extension, it would seem, my daughter isn’t the girliest thing around, either.  I have a very pragmatic approach to dressing my kids, and I prefer casual and inexpensive clothes that let them climb and get dirty.  And my little girl, in particular, is quite a little monkey.  She’s very active and climbs all over the place.  Not only are frouf-y headbands and frilly dresses (with tights!) not my style, but they just don’t seem all that practical for climbing ladders and digging up handfuls of dirt in the yard.

But then, as all neurotic mothers will do, I start to wonder how I’m impacting my child and her view of herself as a girl. Am I imposing a “tomboy” label on her that has more to do with me than with her? Am I going too far in trying to avoid the stereotypical pinks and ruffles? Am I doing it more (or less?) because she has a twin brother? I don’t really think so.  She’s an active kid, there’s no two ways about it.  And plenty of her clothes are pretty clearly styled for girls.  But still, I wonder.

Silly girl

Now, as we approach her second birthday, she is once again letting me know how silly this all is.  Now that she knows her colors, she seems to be expressing a mild (but not exclusive) preference for pinks and purples.  She finds the baby doll in the pile of stuffed animals and gives it a hug and a kiss. She is (finally) letting me put a barrette in her hair to keep it out of her face. Of the two demands she will sometimes make in clothing choices, one is an insistence on butterflies (the other is her collection of Obama shirts… sometimes a little brainwashing isn’t so bad…).  And, of course, she still loves to run and bounce, she loves to kick a ball, she loves monkeys and pirates.

pink striped dress

And I have allowed myself to develop a love for dresses.  Still not the fussy, frilly (or expensive) type. Those still go too far against my fairly practical nature.  But a nice jersey knit from Old Navy?  Easy to wear and wash, and…. oh my lordy, so very cute.

21 Months

I will still try to keep checks and balances on how I impact my kids in terms of gender expression and stereotypes.  But darn it if that little dress isn’t fricking adorable.  And, at least now people don’t look at my kids and say “oh, two boys!”

What do you think? Do you struggle with clothing and gender stereotypes or practicality?  Do you just embrace it or ignore it?  Do you think your kids’ gender combinations (b/g, g/g, b/b, etc.) impact how you choose to dress them?

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21 thoughts on “The making of a little girl”

  1. Thanks for sharing, your little girl is adorable in dresses and in jeans!

    Strangely I find myself doing the exact opposite. Having B/G twins for me has meant using more pink, frills, dresses and bows than I would have otherwise. Partly because I so desire them to have their own identity and gender. They are going to be sharing most things in their life and there is a part of me that wants them to know they are different. I want them to REALLY enjoy their unique girlishness and boyishness.

    Although even with one dresses in all pink and one dressed in all blue I still get the, “oh, are they 2 boys” comments often.

  2. I have a blog post planned for this week about this exact topic. Last week we were at the Gap picking out some outfits for the boys’ birthday. Nate saw some pretty white sandals and immediately took off his shoes and put the sandals on, saying “I’m wearing pretty sandals like Sydney!” (friend from school) OH MY the looks we got!

    And then a friend asked me over the weekend if I wanted a little girl and I said no. Friend said she loved having a girl bc they paint their toes together. I said, “Well Nate loves painting his toenails.” and OH MY MY the look on her face! And this was a friend!

    So yes, I struggle with gender stereotypes!

  3. I’m the girliest of girls at heart, so my little girl has all the bows, frills & tights. Having boy/girl twins might actually influence me to do the girly thing more to differentiate between them. I get questions about whether they’re two boys even if she has a big bow on her head, so I think on that point, people are just ignorant sometimes. Anyway, I think as long as you allow her to choose girly things when she wants to, then you’re not forcing her to become a tomboy.

  4. I am the same as you…not a real girly, girl, but I have found it very difficult to resist the dresses and skirts. I will frequently go into a store and come out with twice as much stuff for Bree as for Cullen. But, we do usually try to dress her in practical things during the day. That being said, I have noticed that she has started to gravitate towards the dresses and the pink items all on her own. If given the choice of what to wear, she will always choose something that I would categorized as “girly” and that she deems as “pretty.” But, she will also wear these things to dig around in the dirt and climb on things in our yard.

    So, I say give them the access and let them choose their own path. Of course, this advice comes from a woman whose son consistently asks to wear his sister’s bright, colorful clips in his hair. And we oblige.

  5. My daughters are at the point where they’re vocal about what they want to wear. It’s really interesting to see. Two of them would wear dresses and party shoes every day if I let them. But now that it’s warm they’ve started requesting shorts and t-shirts. The other two change their minds quite often. If we’re not going anywhere, anything goes… whether you want to wear a party dress, jeans or stay in your pajamas.

  6. While reading your post I felt like I was reading the story of my life with my b/g twins. Like you I am not “girly” but I would like to be. I struggle with trying to dress my daughter also. Normally she dresses in comfy clothes like shorts and a tee shirt, but now that she is almost 3 I wonder if I should start trying to dress her in “dresses” instead. I just don’t want her to struggle with trying to be girly later in life just because I didn’t help her with it while she was growing up.

  7. Growing up I was the girliest of girls. Every Sunday was my day for facials, manicures, hair treatments. I would never dream of leaving the house in runners and a tracksuit and I wore high heels everywhere. This continued after my first child too. Then the twins arrived. Now if I get dressed each day that is a miracle unto itself. If I remember to paint my toenails once a month then I’m doing pretty good and if I remember to shave my legs before swimming lessons every weekend then it’s been a great week.

    Yet somewhere along the line, my little girl inherited my girlie girl gene. She may only be 2 1/2 but she ADORES wearing cute things in her hair, lip gloss having her toenails painted and most mornings will grab a dress and cute pair of sandals out of her wardrobe because that is what she must where that day. Now I just need to take a few lessons from her because this stay at home mum look that I have going on now just isn’t cutting it anymore.

    Her twin brother is the polar opposite. He’s all boy in every sense of the word.

  8. We deal with this all the time (and I do research on gender!). My daughter loves dresses, and (at 2 1/2) just started caring about looking “pretty” a term she must have learned at daycare because I avoid it (I try for things like “you look nice” or non-gendered words like “cute”). But also, her favorite color is blue (I buy her lots of blue but it’s hard to find without princesses or trucks on it) so today, for instance, she asked to wear her brother’s very boyish shirt. Fine. I haven’t had the heart to cut her brother’s very curly hair and he likes to wear ponytails, so I often get the “I have 2 little girls too” comments. I mostly let them choose for themselves though I confess I have tried to distract my son when he’s asked to wear a dress. I know once they start preschool and are with older kids (now they’re in a 0 to 2 room) they will get a lot more peer pressure to conform, but for now, I like that they express their individuality, whatever it may be.

  9. that last dress is lovely, it is a perfect compromise between girl and practical. i rarely think about clothes, other than the ones i make them. with two boys it has always been a no brainer, grab what is clean and put it on when i get a chance. they are finally expresses an interest in their choices of clothes so i follow their lead if they give one. and i dress them alike most days because it makes laundry easier, that way i know when to wash…

    funny, i was just thinking about b/g tins after reading rajen’s latest post. they are moving their twins into separate rooms and i wondered if it a space decision or a gender one. i have never even considered that mine would have their own rooms. food for thought.

  10. I love putting my girls in dresses but didn’t do it too often because like you, I found it wasn’t very practical for play. I’ve recently fallen in love with old navy jersey dresses as well! Play friendly and adorable. I few weeks ago I picked up 2 adorable dresses from walmart for only $7 a pop and I’ve had so many compliments on them. Its the dresses they’re wearing in the pics of the 2 of them frolicking on the beach :)

  11. Hmmm … are you sure you didn’t go into my blog drafts and just switch out the photos?

    I’m with you. I figured it would be very easy to go overboard on girly girliness with monozygotic girls, so I went overboard in the other direction. However, my daughters have decided for themselves that they are seriously girly girls. Jessica doesn’t wear pants at home, because that way, “My shirt is just like a dress with no pants!”

    Melody and Jess have decided for themselves that they are mermaids, princesses, ballerinas, doctors or Backyardigans characters at all times. They have decided for themselves that they love dresses and skirts and DO NOT wear jeans.

    I have a great photo from just this morning of Melody in a summer dress and ribbon in her hair, playing with trucks.

  12. Faith usually wears dresses to church, parties or special occasions. But at home, it is mainly stretchy, comfy play clothes in pretty colors. She has blue eyes, and they really pop when she wears blue, and her skin looks great with pink, peach, white and yellow. I enjoy fixing her hair with hair bows, and yet I revel in her dirt digging-rough-playing ways. (I was quite the tomboy in my day!)

    I think I am very practical in my approach to gender, and very traditional. If Jonathan wants to wear a bow, I say “no, bows are for girls. Give it back to your sister please.” He has no problem with that. He has never ever asked to do anything remotely like his sister other than the bows. And usually, he runs to her and tries to jam them into her hair.

    I am grateful they are only two and I can still dictate their clothing choices for a few more months! One less battle to fight!

  13. When I first had the girls I could not resist the dresses and such. I’m a reformed clothing / shoes whore so post-partum I just turned MY shopping issues onto my girls and bought everything under the sun. Now that I’m a seasoned twin mama I am MUCH more realistic. Yes, we have a few dresses for parties and such but the majority of their stuff is user-friendly. Jeans, comfy pants, t-shirts, turtlenecks. I am HUGE fan of LL Bean type clothing but can’t really afford the prices anymore. But anything that is jersey knit, doesn’t have to be ironed and doesn’t have any buttons and such is a winner in my book. I am also starting to get back into sewing again and have some projects going – cute and SIMPLE summer shift dresses which I figure will be easy for potty training.

    My clothing issue is dressing them alike. I never really thought about it. But when they were born everyone bought us identical outfits and it became a habit. I never even gave it a thought. I bought two of everything. Then when I tried to dress them differently they FOUGHT! “I want to wear MY purple shirt too!” So – I dressed them alike to avoid confrontations and to get out of the house easier. Now – I just buy whatever. but I still gravitate to alike outfits out of habit. My summer clothing purchases have been same styles – maybe different colors or prints.

    PS – my crazy over shopping days are OVER! The only good thing that came out of BOXES full of stuff that was hardly ever worn was the money I made on eBay selling it all :-)

    PPS – WHERE did you get the OBAMA shirt???? I LOVE It!

  14. I have a 2.5 year old little girl who likes to wear normal everyday stuff but dress up for the girly stuff as well. I also have 7 month old twin boys who on most days I dress alike. What I find interesting, and I’m not sure if it’s b/c of her age or her twin brothers, but when dressing in the morning she looks at what I’m wearing and tries to find something that matches me. So if I’m wearing sweats..she wants sweats, jeans than it’s a jeans day. Also the color of my shirt is what she tries to match!! She also tells me how beautiful my clothes are especially if she hasn’t seen it before, even if they aren’t beautiful–but it’s nice to hear!! thank goodness for my little girl somehow I don’t see my boys saying that when they’re 2.5 years old, but that might be my genderness coming through!!

  15. Let’s just say you can definitely tell which side of the closet is Abigail’s. She requests “Princess dress”. She’ll wear shorts and T’s but prefers a dress. It’s sometimes a battle, but we muddle through it. And she has about 10 pairs of shoes. A mix. (I shop sales, Target) I finally just put her shoes out because she had me in the closet all day wanting to change shoes. (Don’t get me wrong, Abigail loves her trucks, dirt and bugs) And since I make children’s hair bows, Abigail already has a closet full. But she barely lets me use them.

    It’s only for a short while that she’ll let me pick her clothing :(

    And Porter, he likes Dino, firetruck and doggie shirts. He’ll insist on wearing those.

    So I don’t ignore it and yes I think the gender of my children impact they way I dress them.

  16. having two girls, i thought, saved me from some of the gender issues. but i lament the lack of sturdiness in girls clothes. as though 2yo’s (girls or boys) sit nicely in anything, let alone pink dress with tights. or even wear pink or white sneakers without mom having to scrub the mud off them every night. I have given in and started buying them boys clothes for play clothes. the toddler boys things tend to be a little more durable and since they aren’t girly girl in the first place (we are mad into spiderman, digging with shovels and the color green to name a few) they wear jeans and blue boys sneakers and sweatshirts in the backyard.

    however, having said that, I was telling howie this morning that there were white shirts soaking in the washing machine that I hadn’t meant to be ‘play clothes’ and his response was something along the lines of where did i expect them to be wearing these ‘non-play-clothes-non-dresses’ and I said ‘out. in public.’ so clearly I need to have them dressed like girls if we go out. interesting…

  17. ooooooh, this post reaffirms my intentions for posting something i’ve been drafting (translation: PROCRASTINATION) about clothing/habits considerations related to my b/g twins. Specifically as it relates to our SON in a two-mom, one-sister, no other boys living with us household. How’s THAT for a doozie!?

    and mamie – the motivation behind the room separation is their VERY DIFFERENT sleep styles. Oh, we do have them on the same schedule/routine, but how lightly they sleep and the amount of jabbering they do when not yet asleep varies and impacts the other. I’m pretty easy going about lots of things, but I will protect their sleep like the FBI security detail protects a world leader.

  18. As a feminist researcher and a mom who is very aware of gender issues, I wondered about these questions too. Before our babies were born and we found out they were girls, I wondered what we’d do if they were b/g twins. With two girls (almost 4 months old), I have received tons of pink clothes as gifts plus bags of hand-me downs, so I don’t have a lot of choice in how they are dressed. But, the girls do wear sleepers that their brother wore, and I had a great time the day I dressed one in a pink sleeper with a blue hat and one in a blue sleeper with a pink hat… people really don’t know what to say about that.

  19. my family has been showering annie and abbie in pinks ,bows,ruffles and dolls since i found out that i was having girls! and i don’t think it’s relly so bad to dress them like that.that being said i hammerd it into ther tiny blonde heads early that it wasen’t bad for a little girl to play with trucks and cars.i admire your determination about the stareotypes. but as a mother of two sets of ID twins one set of witch are about to turn 11 that once thay see all there friends talking abou princesses it will get harder as she gets older.

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