Childrearing

Raising A Fangirl In A Fanboy World

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When my daughter was small, I’d dress her in camouflage cargo shorts and tank tops. Then, she’d walk around in a tutu, waving her fairy wand. When she wanted a baby doll, she insisted it was the boy Baby Alive with its anatomically correct infant penis. She would play with her miniature Disney princess figures endlessly. She’s made friends with both boys and girls; opting to have co-ed birthday parties far past when the other kids seem to have given them up. Now, she cuts and sews her own fashion creations and then wears basketball shorts and t-shirts. She skateboards along our porch and beelines it to the heels when we’re near a shoe department. But the thing is, for how much she’s liked and all the things she likes, my daughter is practically invisible as a girl. Why? Because she’s a fangirl living in a fanboy world.

Here’s what I mean: When we walk into a store, like we recently did to shop for clothing, my daughter’s t-shirt options were a Grumpy Cat v-neck and a soft cotton pastel tee with, “Not everyone who’s lost needs to be found” curly-cued across the front. My own fangirl heart just about shriveled up and died; and I’m not even going to mention the sizes of these shirts because that’s for a different day.  Then, like we’ve been doing since she was little, my daughter and I made our way to the boys section where, of course, the pop culture gods reigned down and made it glisten with the coolest t-shirts, ever.

There was nothing “deep” in this section. The store got right to the point: superheroes, a vintage Nintendo game controller, Minecraft, Harry Potter, Masters of the Universe, minions, Jurassic Park. Basically, if you loved a movie or TV show released within the past twenty-five to thirty years, it had a t-shirt in the boys section.

I was pissed. I’ve been battling this conundrum for more than a decade with my daughter. I don’t mean girls t-shirts that say inappropriate and stupid things like “Math is hard.” What I mean is an acknowledgement that girls like t-shirts beyond floral prints and cats. Yes, we have two cats, and my daughter sleeps next to one every night, but c’mon! She’s a cool girl, reward her. Let her walk into a store and not make her feel like there’s something wrong with her because she has to, in a way, be a gender traitor. Boys don’t corner the market on liking cool shit, but you’d never know that if you weren’t a fangirl yourself.  And, as any fan knows, you wear your fandom front-and-center; that’s why this is a big deal.

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