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What Came First: the Princess or the Girl?

It’s not just that my son loves Disney princesses. He loves the entire kit ‘n caboodle of what society would label (unfairly) “girly” stuff.
Purple lollipops. (Not just any lollipop.)
Sparkly tutus
Barbie pink dream cars
Cotton candy
Fancy Nancy
Glitter this
Sequined that

Pinkalicious
Pink everything
Purple everything

It comes as a package. Walking down the street, he’s got a focused attention to detail that’s both annoying and astounding. He loves all dogs, but seeing a King Charles Spaniel is all the cuter. (And it’s TRUE! King Charles Spaniels are cuter…than labs or regular spaniels or golden doodles.)

It’s a fascinating cliché. Listen, I don’t want to put anyone in boxes. And it drives me crazy when people make assumptions about any of my tastes (even if they’re right.) So I try to accept that a girl can be equally inspired by Lego’s as by Elena of Avalor. (Oh, you haven’t heard of Elena? You’re missing out on Disney’s cornering of the Latina market.) And I think boys could choose a red crayon just as easily as wanting to hog all the blue Legos.

But my wonderful son in all his gender non-conformity is 100% on the predictable path of all things “girl”.

So I wonder: does he like all things sparkly/princessy because he loves those things, or because he already knows they’re “girly” and that’s what he likes?

How can so many little princess girls (and boys) be so consistent along the lines of their consumer tastes? Is it a genetic attraction to sparkles and pink, or is it cultural programming at a young age?

What came first? Princess or girl? Is it nature or nurture?

I don’t think my son’s yet influenced by his surroundings or peers. He knows that some kids say “boys shouldn’t like princesses” but he shrugs and keeps loving princesses. I’m proud of that. (Disclaimer – I LOVE that my son knows what he likes. And when I show a little annoyance that he’s so princess all the time, he’s quick to smack me down. “Daddy! I like princess! Stop telling me what to like!” Good for him. Proud papa.)

Another disclaimer – I was exactly the same way, as a kid. I wanted to love all things “girl”. How did I know? Hell. I don’t think there was an explanation. The time my dad asked me, “Why do you have to like red? Can’t you like blue?” And I responded (in the sassy way I hear from my son ALL THE TIME, now), “Fine. I’ll just like pink, instead,” because I KNEW that would piss him off to no end.

But why did I like red? (And everything Strawberry Shortcake – the original, thankyouverymuch – and Princess Leia and Barbie, etc., although I hid this attraction by kindergarten. I was far less secure than my own kid. Yay, son!)

Nowadays, I’ll flip through Netflix “suggestions” and my son will choose anything with a pink fairy/cheerleader/girly icon, even when he has zero idea what it’s about. But does he want the sparkles? Or is it cuz it’s “girly”?

It seems to me there’s a universal attraction to sparkles/pink/twirly things. But some kids diversify their interests with pink and dragons and skateboards and Sofia the First.

But not my kid. He’s full-out. And it seems to me that the gender-non-conforming boys I’ve read about and known are all full-out.

So what causes that? Their deep attractions? Or that they know they’re bucking convention and that makes them go so full-out? The same goes for boys who are 100% driven to Legos/dinosaurs/star wars/breaking stuff. 

Is there a Kinsey scale of aesthetic taste?

What do you think? Why is it so often so full out?

 

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4 Comments

  1. I wonder about this all the time. Well this, and a lot of other things regarding my kids’ behavior, and how much I (or anyone else) actually influence it. Is it all just there, genetically (as I suspect)? Have those with obedient children actually made them that way, or is it dumb luck? Or are those who say that our parenting, or lack of parenting, and our programming of girls toward “girl” things and boys toward “boy” things has a huge impact?
    Seems to me that your son proves them entirely wrong. Go kid, BE HOW YOU ARE. Most important thing ever.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. First- i love your blog and have enjoyed reading your posts, especially in this difficult age of raising boys and having to worry whether i can just let him be a boy- should i try to raise him as a feminist (?), do i even have to introduce the idea of gender tgis early? do i really have to stop him from climbing up the slide at the park? Anyway, off topic. My 3 yr old loves trucks and has from an early age. Maybe we fostered this or maybe there was a lot of street construction going on when he was little. Either way he has not deviated from this love no matter what else i try to introduce, for the past 2 years. I think kids are just inherantly attracted to what they like. The child came first with their own ideas and interests and abilities and we either foster that and instill a sense of confidence and self respect or we squash it and cause confusion…i fear the latter happens all too often. Thanks for posting!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Amelia. Funny how we twist ourselves into knots over-thinking every side of every detail. That’s the crazy pleasure of parenting, no?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Chris main says

    “Daddy! I like princess! Stop telling me what to like!”
    I don’t have any training in child development, and I don’t claim any special wisdom, but
    when a youngster says something like that……I’d be inclined to pay very close attention.
    I’m glad you are doing just that!!!!!!!! Go kid!!! Be who you are, not who the world wants
    you to be”……and be proud. And tell Daddy to back off 🙂 (even though I know he’s
    totally on your side….he just wants to protect you now and then)

    Liked by 1 person

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