I went to see Germaine Greer last night. She said a lot of good stuff and she said a lot of stuff that made me and my friend look at each other and pull the “what’s she on about?” face.
Anyway, at the end of it all, one lady asked a question that really made me sit up and listen: What does Germaine think of the whole ‘princess’ phenomenon amongst little girls? She had a granddaughter and was worried about her princess obsession.
Germaine says she’ll grow out of it, apparently. Her advice was not to pander to it, not to let it go underground and also to ask her to look at the lives of real life princesses and ask if she wants to end up like them.
It made me think about something that I’ve been wondering about for a while: how the heck do you manage if you’ve got a girl?!
You want your little one to fit in, but you really don’t want them to fall into the princess trap. I read with interest this post last week by Mammasaurus, who is fed up of companies like just-ate-a-cupcake-and-puked-on-my-shoes footwear manufacturer Lelli Kelly marketing to children (warning: keep the sound down when you watch the ad.) What would I do if I had a little girl who wanted light-up hair extensions and lilac eyeshadow (other than puke on my shoes?)
Of course, they do grow out of it at some point – hopefully they won’t be wearing a highly flammable dress in the style of Disney’s Snow White to the high school disco. But then there’s a whole host of other stuff to worry about, like that Rihanna video where she appears to take E in a field, enjoys some blow backs from her fella and lets him tattoo ‘Mine’ on her arse. (I do actually like that song.) (But not the monologue at the beginning by Aggynessse Deaeeine.)
Then there’s the fact that The Sun is (still, despite everything) the most purchased newspaper in the UK, which means an awful lot of girls are growing up thinking having big tits and looking tiny in a bikini, being a “TV babe” and taking back a bloke who’s treated you like dirt are all things to aspire to.
It all just seems really scary.
Then again, as Greer pointed out, we frighten girls by telling them they cannot go out on the street in case they get attacked, but boys are getting attacked. Every weekend, grown men get killed or injured in bar or street brawls. And boys want to go in the army. I want my son to be happy and I’ll support him whatever he decides to do and all of that, but if he ever wanted to join the army, my heart would break. He has never asked for a games console or a toy gun, but I know he probably will one day. I’m not particularly fond of football, but Tom loves going to the match with his Auntie J. It’s a real treat for him and it means he doesn’t feel left out when the other boys talk about it at school. I’ll just have to deal with the fact Wayne Rooney is apparently his favourite player.
I suppose it doesn’t matter whether your child is a boy or a girl – there’s always stuff to worry about. It’s just being a parent. You have to work it out, compromise here and there and hope they work things out in the end.
But how do you cope with demands for Lelli Kelly?