Like a doomsday device counting down to zero, I have awaited my daughter’s embrace of Princess Culture with dread.
She has just started school, which I always imagined would be the time it would happen. Thankfully, nothing yet. One thing I anticipated happening would be birthday parties with lots of girls dressed as princesses.
This particular Saturday was her dance class in the morning, and a classmate’s birthday party in the afternoon. A big day for a 4-year-old girl. And she decided that she wanted to wear her Wonder Woman outfit to both.
A Wonder Woman costume was something I always wanted to have on hand for our daughter as party dress option. Wonder Woman is a princess after all…
She is a superhero character I have actively encouraged our daughter’s interest in, ensuring we have books, comics, toys, and clothing with her on. To counter the Princess industrial complex, you need a multi media approach.
But I was also very aware that at any party, our daughter would likely be the only Wonder Woman room – and more often than not the only girl dressed as a superhero. In my experience, most kids don’t like being different. I have seen kids at dance class in tears because they’re not wearing a tutu like the other girls.
I know how it feels to be different, from being the only brown kid in a class of white children to the only dad in a room with dozens of mums. It’s not a scenario to undertake lightly.
Given this, her wearing the Wonder Woman outfit was never something I forced. We may have suggested, even encouraged – but it was always her choice.
So it was a delight to see her on this Saturday revelling in her individuality. She didn’t display a shred of concern about being different.
Something I have noticed, is how adults often gush over how great she looks dressed as a superhero or Star Wars character, or even just wearing t-shirts (well, apart from some disbelieving dudes). Perhaps this is one of the reasons she likes wearing this and similar outfits. Adult praise is an important part of childhood learning.
I also reflect that I hear other girls getting praise (if any) for looking cute or pretty, while our daughter often gets told how cool or awesome she looks.
While both are comments judging the girls on how they look, at least the value placed on our daughter’s is not about attractiveness.
But for now, I find my daughter’s confidence in herself inspiring. Her lack of self consciousness about looking different is something I hope she keeps hold of.
Check out her Wonder Woman clad dance class routine 🙂