Read Related: Girls and Rough SportsAs soon as she could speak, my daughter—much to my relief—declared that her favorite color was red. And I couldn’t possibly have been prouder, or smugger, when for Halloween she asked to be a walrus one year, then a bat, then a pirate. But it didn’t stop there. Not only did she refuse to wear dresses (if I tried to put one on, she’d start clawing furiously at herself as if there were a million spiders crawling inside), but she wouldn’t even let me brush her hair. When she played, she played full on, thrashing about so she had an endless ladder of bruises rising along her shins for the first five years of her life. She fiddled in the mud, collected bugs, and cried when I told her she couldn’t cut her hair as short as a boy’s. I started to wonder what I had done. Had I created a Frankengirl? Watching her pump her string-bean arms and tiny coal-lump fists into the air, while proclaiming, “I’m tough,” in a voice deep enough to rival a baritone’s, I realized that maybe I had created a Frankengrrl.
Sure enough, no sooner than my husband and I returned from the hospital with our little girl did the pink dresses, lacy socks, and ruffled hats start pouring into our home. Friends and family were all too glad to disregard my wishes. I tried to maintain a gracious half-smile, not wanting to seem unappreciative. But why couldn’t people get it out of their heads that girls should wear pink? Too tired to return it all, I finally caved and began clipping the tags. She was a baby, I reasoned. It wouldn’t make a difference. And really, it didn’t. Because curiously, the frilly frocks and girly garb never seemed to look right on her. For my daughter’s first Easter, my mother bought her a pink crocheted dress and a pink hair bow with a rosette and tiny pearls. The entire day the hem of the dress curled up in a most unflattering way, while the bow sidled down her head despite her thick tuft of hair.