I'm a feminist. I'd like to think everyone is these days. I always have been, but raising two girls really brings it into focus, and it reminds me that Ben's a feminist too. Our daughters believe they can do whatever they want to, be whoever they want to; because they can. It will take hard work, but their gender is certainly something that won't stop them.
Being a girl won't define what she can like or dislike.
Josephine loves the outdoors so much; playing football and digging in the mud, gardening and running and messing around. She loves Cinderella and Tangled and dance class and tiaras and pretty dresses. She plays with dolls and she plays with Lego and trains. She does press-ups with Ben and talks about bit fit and strong and she asks if I can put nail varnish on her fingers whenever I'm painting mine. She pretends to be a Mama and she pretends to be a cowboy. She doesn't see any limitations, any 'normal' games for girls. All she sees are things she wants to do and things she doesn't want to do.
I love the fact that she's such a wonderfully strong-willed and determined little girl. I love that her favourite Disney films are Mulan and Brave (both with kick-ass female leads) and I hate the fact that when we looked at buying Phiney a Mulan doll at Christmas they were all dressed in her Geisha costume and not her army one. (I also hate that when it was her birthday all the 'birthday girl' cards were Frozen - which Josephine has never seen - and all the cards with Cars and Toy Story characters on - which she loves - were for the 'birthday boy'. But that's for another post...)
Children are such sponges. They pick up on so much we don't say, and so much we do but don't think they hear or understand. I love that I am able to stay at home with my children 24/7 and spend these precious years with them, but I also love that, more and more, I'm heading out with my camera and can tell Josephine I'm going to work. That I can be a role model to her as both a working woman and a Mama.
Right now my focus is the image side of things. To grow up in a world fuelled by images of thin and beautiful models and movie stars, of fad diets and the importance of the right clothes, the right hair, the right size - it's so tough. More for our children's generation than our own, with so much technology at their fingertips. As Josephine gets older I try not to talk about being unhappy about this or that when it comes to my body, or about loosing weight or being fat. When she asked why my tummy was still 'all soft and round' a few months ago I made sure I explained that it was because I grew Coralie in my tummy and it got big and was going down now, but wasn't that such an amazing thing for my body to be able to do? I want to find the balance between her being confident in her body and her looks (unlike me) and yet not consumed by it.
It's the beginning of a long journey that I know will only get harder as she gets older and goes to school, and we can't fully control what influences she's exposed to. But I'm hoping we're giving her the best start, that feminism isn't really a term she has to warrant because it's a given...
Josephine got that tiara up there with some Easter money my Nan gave her. She put it on as soon as we got home and said 'let's play a game where someone has to save us'. I frowned, worried. Was she already programmed to think that as a girl she was the helpless princess waiting for a prince to save her?
'You need rescuing because you're the princess?' I asked...
'No, Mama. I'm the princess so I can rescue you.'
That's my girl. My warrior princess.