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Last week before church, Stephanie asked me to dress Sarah in an outfit she had picked. I was glad to, but then I was dismayed when I saw how many pieces were involved: First was the diaper, but over that she had some white tights. Why does a one-year-old need faux panty hose? And then a onesie over that, then a frilly shirt, a dress with a full skirt, and dress shoes. All this? 

I mention dress shoes because she already has so many different kinds of pairs of shoes. The boys have sneakers and that’s it. The boys are so simple: They both wear blue jeans and either a t-shirt or a nicer shirt. They wear underwear, socks, and one pair of shoes to choose from. What more do children need? Much more, apparently, if those children are girls.

 Sarah’s hair is longer now than either of the boys have ever been. It looks cute and curly down, but it’s also just long enough for Stephanie to pull up into two pigtails. And it’s cute. But poor thing, she cries and fusses and squirms when Stephanie goes through the process of holding her still, brushing her hair, gathering it into a pigtail, and wrapping a tiny rubber band around it to hold it in place. More often than not, Stephanie only gets as far as the pulling it back before she squirms away, and Stephanie has to start again.

And when the pigtails are in place and she goes though the day with her scalp pulled tight, the day ends with the rubber bands being pulled out and the pigtails let down. More holding, squirming and tears. And as I watch this, I think: she’s learning early the universal truth all women must know: beauty hurts. This is just the beginning of a lifetime of pulling, plucking, primping, straightening, curling, dying, bleaching, compressing, etc.

It makes me wonder about how women are required to look and live in our culture. Part of me wishes Sarah didn’t have to endure all of this. I wish that she, like the boys, could tackle every new day in jeans, a t-shirt, and one pair of sneakers. But I also recognize that no one goes to the prom in jeans and a t-shirt; no one gets married in a sweatshirt and no makeup. I do want her to be beautiful, elegant, and glamorous[1] when occasion calls. And I want her to feel completely comfortable and confident in whatever setting she may inhabit. I hope she can strike a healthy balance between not shying away from getting her hands dirty and being a debutante from time to time too.

[1] But not sexy. Certainly not sexy. 

Posted on Wednesday, November 11, 2009 at 10:48PM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell | Comments1 Comment

Reader Comments (1)

1. She looked ADORABLE. The tights were absolutely necessary.

2. She does wear jeans, a tee, and tennies most days.

3. I already have two boys, so pigtails or a pony are just a must - until folks stop making the mistake. Thanks for your curly hair genes, by the way. She's going to hate them, but I sure love 'em!
November 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWifey

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