January 20, 2018

Let Her Decide

By Jane Lee

So many decisions had been already been handed to her in her young life, it seemed important to let her have this one.


Her brother’s Duplo blocks were all about action – fiery red, action green and strong blue.  Her’s were passive pink, cheery green and soft blue.  


Her brother’s action figure resembled real men with common camouflaged clothes and whose verbs – run, jump, repel – came complete with labels he could pretend being when he grew up – soldier, protector, general.  Her action figure had a body shape unlike that of natural women with jewelled clothes she’ll likely never own and whose verbs – posing, idolized, adored – came with labels she could play at being but likely not live – princess and queen.


So when I found myself sitting in the dressing room with her one summer as she tried on top after skirt after jeans that were clearly sexy, I winced as she struggled to make her own decisions of what to wear in the sixth grade. 


Inside, she was juggling to find her self-identity and trying to figure just who she was or wanted to be.  Sadly, she was having to sift through fashions that described her in ways far beyond her psychological development.


The boundaries were clearer not that long ago.  Cute, pretty, beautiful, sexy.  Little, tween, teen, woman.  It had all made sense. 


How had the lines between beautiful and sexy blurred?  When did we start expecting blossoming women to wear fashion previously reserved for older bodies and minds?  Minds that knew what wearing sexy clothes meant and were ready for the game at hand?


My mothering had clearly outstretched my mother’s mothering.  I was alone in that dressing room in more ways than one and, noticing her struggle as she teetered between two stages of development, both of which had purpose and place but which had become culturally misplaced, clarity miraculously appeared.


“Sweetie, be who you are now.  Sexy is for later.”

“But when?  How will I know?”

“You’ll know, trust me. You’ll know.”

And, with an exhale, “Ok…thanks, Mom.”


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Jane is a mother of two and the creator of godsheartandhands.org


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