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Babies Don’t Have Boyfriends

Ever since the moment I found out I was having a girl, I was excited that I’d get to flex my hair-braiding skills I’d acquired as a kid, and simultaneously dreading the way the world would perceive her.

It was something I just couldn’t get out of my head. I knew that a girl coming into the world would almost immediately be treated differently than a boy. In small ways, sure. “Aren’t you pretty?!” “She’s just beautiful!” “There will be guys lined up around the corner for her!” … Ok. Well, she’s like 3 days old, so I’m not really on that page yet. And why would you say something so weird about a BABY?

Of course, I think my daughter is beautiful. I just don’t want that to be the only thing I think about her. And I don’t want it to be the first thing that other people think about her. My husband and I are actively avoiding buying her clothes with “Dad says no boyfriends!” or “Single & loving it!” emblazoned on the front. She’ll get enough of that later in her life, and we’re trying not to normalize that for her. We don’t want her life framed solely by her romantic status.

I sometimes have trouble explaining this to others. “She’s just a baby! It’s not like she understands.” True. But other people do, and it just reinforces some of the negative ways we frame the accomplishments of girls and women. I recently read a great article that articulated a lot of the things I was feeling.

Are these microaggressions? Macroaggressions? Not aggressions at all? Am I overreacting? Or is this gloomily indicative of what we value, in a country that still lauds spray-tanned, spray-haired pageant toddlers?

Marina pretty much sums it all up in her piece. So, what’s the big solve, here? I’m not entirely sure yet. I plan to keep reading, keep learning, and try to talk about my daughter in terms of her burgeoning personality more than I talk about her aesthetic. I’ll do what I can to make sure my daughter feels valued for her ideas before her looks, and I’ll hope that others do the same for her based on my example.

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