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Thursday, April 26 2018
She's Watching You

"Are you a girl, or are you a boy?"

Oh, how I hated those words, words which pointed out that I was different, words which accused me of masquerading as someone stronger, someone smarter, someone who had the right to do the fun things that I was good at. I grew up running barefoot in the forest with my brothers and prior to puberty there were few clues to strangers as to my sex since I dressed and behaved just like the boys. My mother didn’t fight it. I slept with a toy dump truck at night and she didn’t care. My brother had a Raggedy Andy doll. She didn’t care. He grew up to be a surgeon and a fantastic father of three lovely daughters. I grew up to be a crime scene investigator, a rancher and a writer. Clearly her decision to let her children defy social norms didn’t hold us back.

"You should dress like a girl so people know what you are! Act like a lady!"

From where I was sitting it didn't look like ladies had much fun. It wasn't that I didn't like girl things, I just had no use for them. Frankly, Barbie couldn't ride a horse. I know. I tried. Her legs pop off.  Guys probably don't know that, but right now there are thousands of country girls, cowgirls, and horsewomen who are all nodding their heads because they know the truth. They know because they tried it. If you force a Barbie onto a toy horse, her legs will pop right off because her hips aren't wide enough. Now I ask you, what the hell kind of role model is that?

In the world of my childhood, I didn't need Beach Barbie, I needed Ranch Barbie. Ranch Barbie would be able to sit on a horse. Ranch Barbie wouldn't have a dream camper, Ranch Barbie would have a tractor. And a skid steer. Ranch Barbie wouldn't have a gym outfit. She wouldn't need one. Ranch Barbie would have muscles for lifting hay and water buckets. Ranch Barbie would have no interest whatsoever in G.I. Joe or Stretch Armstrong unless he could ride a horse or back a trailer. Ken wouldn't even be on her radar.

Despite all this Mattel toy company has gotten rich on the Dreamhouse train which left a trail of frustrated cowgirls in its pink sequined wake. We wanted to fit in. We really did. We wanted to be girls but where were all the strong girls? I didn't want to be Cinderella or Snow White, I wanted to be Merlin in The Sword In the Stone. I wanted to be Alec in the Black Stallion. I didn't need Prince Charming to rescue me. I needed Prince Charming to respect me, or get out of my way.

Mothers of little girls, I beg you, don't force her into pink lace and sandals when she wants blue jeans and boots. My heart sang with joy when Disney finally rolled out the movie, Brave. The heroine, Merida, is a girl who rides a horse, hunts, and fishes. She's a girl who can compete with the boys.

Over the years I've learned some things. Girl clothes are a waste of fabric when you live in the country. Buy denim. Staying clean is overrated and next to impossible if you have any kind of life. Girl hair gets in your face. Wearing it short or in a ponytail is just fine. You are expected to work outside as hard as your brothers and your husband. Work smarter, not harder. Most of the time it's not really about strength, it's about having the right tools.  Little girls can be mean to each other. Get a dog. Boys do have more fun.  And the most important thing - you are just as smart as the boys.

I gave these lessons some thought as I tooled around the barnyard, mastering the art of driving a skid steer to unload alfalfa hay so heavy that even the men struggled with it.  "Be the Person You Needed When You Were Younger"  I read this little meme on social media and it struck a chord. Yes. Free yourself to be the person you needed when you were a child. Be that role model for a little girl. Be strong. Be confident. Shake free from the weight of someone else’s expectations and be yourself. Somewhere a little girl is watching you. And she needs you to be yourself. What are you waiting for?

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 09:51 am   |  Permalink   |  9 Comments  |  Email
Are you sure we are not related? Such a PERFECT post!
Posted by Wendy Pinckney on 04/26/2018 - 11:34 AM
Amen, sister!
Posted by Emily on 04/26/2018 - 12:06 PM
Heck your mom had it easy! I wanted to BE the black stallion. I pranced, trotted, tossed my head, neighed in response to questions. My dear mom wanted a girl to have dolls and tea parties not that lanky, skinned kneed, snorting and pawing child she was saddled with! Some girls like pink, dresses and nail polish and some of us are not to be denied blue jeans boots and driving the tractor! A great essay!
Posted by Marilyn on 04/26/2018 - 03:58 PM
It is true! Barbie cannot ride a horse. I tried it, too. I decided it was better to put her in my Tonka truck and push her around the freshly tilled garden rows. Four wheel drive Barbie had more fun. I also prefer a pony tail. When you are trying to put cattle back inside the fence, you cannot have hair blowing in your face covering your eyes. A pony tail fits under a hat as well. Once again you made me laugh! Thank you!
Posted by Ashley on 04/26/2018 - 08:25 PM
Dolls just were of no interest to me (how ironic that I inherited the collection of porcelain dolls my mom made). I was the one playing with match box cars in the mud and making a motel for the frogs. Your picture at the end reminds me of the time I was at grandma's house and managed to get the neighbor's horse over the fence and get on it with my jump rope around its neck. Then it took off across the pasture. When it got to the end I slid off and sheepishly walked back home. Little did I realize everybody else saw it, scared to death that I was going to get hurt.
Posted by Pam Morrill on 04/26/2018 - 10:39 PM
I have no use for the "I'm a girl. I'm helpless and like it that way." types.....never did and never will...
Posted by Eric on 04/26/2018 - 11:27 PM
Ah, kindred spirit. My parents were the same. When we had "Bring 100 Items Day" at school, people had paperclips, pennies, rocks, other common items lining the hallway, I had 100 dinosaurs. I didn't care what other people thought of me. I just knew what I liked and I rolled with it. Male clothes are comfy and come with plenty of storage. Female clothes have decorative stitching instead of pockets. No thanks, I prefer to be functional because I actually DO THINGS. You shared great quotations, too. We have too many hangups about labels. Just go out there and enjoy life. "Be who you are and say what you feel because people who mind don't matter and people who matter don't mind."
Posted by Diana on 04/28/2018 - 08:31 AM
I'm so glad this post touched a nerve with so many women who lived under the same yoke. There is nothing wrong with being a Tomboy.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 04/30/2018 - 03:58 PM
Right on! Due to the gender-linked cultural mores and stereotypes I desperately wished I had been born a boy and, until puberty came along, most people who met me away from school assumed I was one. I even landed a job under the name Carl when I was eleven. Fortunately, my mother never tried to push girly stuff on me. I wish I could have known other girls like me then.
Posted by Carol G on 05/01/2018 - 07:54 PM

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