“Awesome” is one of my favorite words to use with K. It’s my little way of telling her that what she is doing or has just done is something to be admired. I use it frequently – to encourage her to do things “by myself, Mama!”, to try things she’s scared of (“Getting to pet Jay’s cat Bailey is awesome, isn’t it, K?”), to keep her from crying on the playground because she slid down a little too fast on the slide and scared herself (“Oh my goodness, that was awesome, K! Let’s try it again!”). I use it so much that Kwill often use it too, telling me in her ever so serious voice: “Tha’s awesome, Mumma, tha’s awesome.”
To me, the word “awesome” conveys so many things: a sense of adventure, of wonder, of bravery, of, you know, AWE. And those are all the things I want to encourage K to grow up with. But I’ve never really thought that much about it until I read this great blog post (Thanks, Kathleen!) on Pigtail Pals, a site that’s dedicated to redefining what “girly” means. In her post, “Waking Up Full of Awesome,” Melissa helps articulate what I’ve always felt but haven’t before articulated. And it makes me want to strive even more to bring K a world full of awesome, where she can feel like she can conquer the world. I want my little munchkin girl at 22 to say the same things with the same pride (though perhaps slightly better sentence structure) that she does at 2:
- “I so strong, Mumma.”
- “I funny. I make Mumma laugh!”
- “I run SUPER fast!”
- “I did it!”
- “I awesome.”
I don’t consider myself a feminist in the traditional sense. I think that a lot of harm is done by using a label such as that, and that a lot of harm is done in the name of feminism, as is true of every “movement.” But in the spirit of Pigtail Pals, I’m all for redefining “girly.” I want my child to explore what she wants to explore. To do what she wants to do. To like what she wants to like. And while I think progress has been made, I’m pissed that I can’t buy pull-ups for girls that aren’t pink. I’m pissed that I have to go to the boys section at Carter’s to find a shirt that has a fire truck on it. I’m mad as holy hell that finding mittens that AREN’T pink or purple with hearts on them is such a freaking challenge.
Those of you who know me already know that I have a (perhaps unreasonable) dislike – even disdain – for things that are pink, princessy and “pretty.” Don’t get me wrong. I don’t object to everything that is pink, princessy and pretty, but in the little girl world, it seems nearly impossible to avoid them. But if I can’t avoid this crap when she’s two, how much worse does it get when she’s 5, or 10, or 15. Actually, don’t bother to tell me that – the Toys R Us catalogue I just got advertising Bratz answered my question.
But more than anything, I want to live in a world where Joss Whedon doesn’t have to answer the question, “So why do you write these strong female characters?”
I want my little girl to choose her own favorite color, to decide what makes a perfect princess (hopefully one resourceful enough to save her own damn self), and define what pretty means to her. I want her to admire strong women (and not think they’re weird), to know she can do whatever she wants to, and to believe that strong will, curiosity and creativity will win the day far more often than being pretty.
And more than anything, I want her to wake up every morning full of awesome. Because, goddamnit, SHE IS.