My daughter requested a ponytail this morning.
This might not seem news worthy, but it was for me. I have been coveting the ponytails of all the other little girls my daughter’s age for months. I have been trying to coax her into letting me pull back that golden dandelion hair since before she turned one.
There was a brief period of time where she allowed me to do pigtails, but that didn’t last long. She recently went through a phase where she wouldn’t let me use a barrette to pull the hair away from her eyes and she would go through the day with locks of blonde hair obscuring her vision, and my ability to admire her beautiful face.
Yes, I have wanted to sit her down and do all the cute things to her hair. But I haven’t, for one simple reason.
It’s her body.
She gets to decide what happens to it.
So when she says firmly “NO PONYTAIL MOMMY!!” That means I listen.
I get to decide a lot about her life right now – when and what she eats, what time she goes to bed, where we spend our time playing. But her body? That’s hers, and not even as her mother do I believe I should tell her how to make it look.
I get to tell her how to keep herself safe. I get to say “No, that’s too dangerous”, “no, you can’t use your body to climb our refrigerator, no, you can’t throw your body into water over your head when you have no idea how to swim yet.” But forcing her to look the way I had imagined in a fantasy of my future daughter? That’s not her responsibility to make come true.
When I found out I was having a girl, I was beyond thrilled. I happily buy ALL THE PINK with zero apologies. I would be lying if I said I don’t get excited to be able to dress this little doll every day.
But my daughter is the boss of how her body looks. This is an important decision to me. If she doesn’t like the pink, if she hates dresses and bows and flowers and all things girl – then its not for me to force her into it. Right now it is as small as the decision as to whether or not she will wear a ponytail, but in ten years it will be bigger things.
I would also be lying if I said I always got it perfect. There have been times pigtails and certain outfits have been forced on her. And it never felt good. Not for either of us.
People asked me after I wrote about yoga pants how I would feel if my daughter dressed “provocatively” when she becomes a teenager. I said I might not like it, but that wouldn’t be the battle I would choose with her. I’m not saying it would be easy, I’m not saying I won’t cringe a little if she starts wearing clothing styles that make me uncomfortable. But I am hoping to pass on my value that the person matters far more than the appearance. I am hoping I will spend my time worrying what kind of person she is, how she treats others, rather than what type of clothing she wears or how she styles her hair.
I hope by these little permissions my daughter learns that her body is HERS and hers alone. That nobody gets to tell her how it should look. That it is not her responsibility to make it pleasing for others. That she is free to make it look however she likes, and that we will love her no matter what she chooses.