Here are two autobiographical items from the Washington Post’s weekly feature “Life Is Short,” each reprinted here in its entirety:
#1: Taking the fun out of being a mom for your friend:
“Jumping up and down, laughing, with big floppy bows atop their ringlets, the sisters wear matching red-and-green dresses with embroidered trees across the chest. I smirk at their mother for dressing her daughters like dolls, and start to fume over how we teach our children to package themselves in such a ridiculous manner. Then I realize that with my stilettos, costly vintage dress, designer purse and blown-out hair, I am in no position to judge her. I dress up myself.”
#2: Taking the fun out of being a little girl for your daughter:
“She is 6 years old and 100 percent girl. In princess clothes she floats around the room, billowing clouds of pink glitter. Princesses. Disney princesses. ‘Who’s your favorite one, Mommy?’ None of them: pretty nothings being carried off by their handsome princes. But how do you put such abstract values into words a child will understand? ‘Oh, sweetie,’ I say. ‘Don’t you know that being pretty doesn’t matter?’ Be strong. Be smart. Be funny. Be a beautiful person. How did I let this happen?”
At least Writer No. 1 came to her senses and realized that–guess what!–gals of all ages like to doll themselves up in pretty clothes.
Writer No. 2, who seems to have attended the Laura Kipnis School of Feminist Theory on Femininity (see Our Bodies, Our Idiocy, Jan. 7), didn’t. Writer No. 2 seems: 1) never to have read a fairy tale in her life, or she would realize that princesses are rewarded for their courage and virtue, not their beauty; and 2) to have forgotten what it’s like to be 6, when you can’t get enough princesses, ballerinas, movie stars, and other pretty female people.
Writer No. 1 needs a crash course in etiquette: It’s not nice to “smirk” and “fume” at parents for their choice of holiday outfits for their youngsters. Writer No. 2 needs to read Bruno Bettelheim’s The Uses of Enchantment the next time she feels like hectoring her little girl for being a little girl.