Celebrate Childhood: Redefine Girly
A Guest Post by Pigtail Pals founder Melissa Wardy
Last week we met Jennifer, a creative mom who seeks to celebrate boyhood without all the commercial influences. This week, we meet another creative mom, Melissa, who is redefining girlhood. Both Melissa and Jennifer are on the same mission: to Rescue Childhood.
When I met Melissa, I was incredibly impressed by her vision. She wants to teach the next generation of girls that they can be strong, independent and not afraid to reach for the stars—literally, blast off into space and study the universe.
Pigtail Pals is a sponsor of Classic Play and shares our vision of creating a world for our children where they are free to be creative, open and just be themselves. I asked Melissa here today to share a bit about her philosophy and why she started Pigtail Pals. Welcome Melissa…
During my first pregnancy I spent endless hours planning the perfect gender neutral nursery. Vintage Italian alphabet flash cards for wall hanging? Check. Gingham bedding? Check. Stack of classic children’s stories in board books? Check check.
My daughter was born and I would spend the day holding her and dreaming about catching lightening bugs, teaching her to ride a bike and kick a soccer ball, reading Little House On The Prairie, and flying kites. A childhood fit for a Norman Rockwell piece for the Saturday Evening Post.
Then I went shopping. I needed diapers or pacifiers or some such thing. I came home mystified. My eyes were glazed over from pink pegboard and walls of plastic dolls that looks like sex workers and tulle and tiaras and slogans on every shirt, right down to 3M, that read “Daddy’s Princess”, “Sweet as Candy”, “Angel” and “Sassy, sometimes Sweet”. The excess of butterflies and rhinestones had done me in.
This was girlhood? This was how I was supposed to raise my daughter? And why was everything pink? I couldn’t understand it, and thought perhaps my post pregnancy hormones had made me time travel. You know, to 1950.
I didn’t want to raise my girl to wish upon a star and wait for her prince. I’d rather teach her to get into a rocket ship and reach that start for herself. I’d like that on a onesie, but couldn’t find it. Then I had one of those a-ha moments and I filled page after page with ideas and drawings and plans…..for what would become Pigtail Pals.
I don’t see childhood as having a boy side and a girl side. At least, not in the first several years. I see childhood as a time for brightly colored unstructured play fueled by powerful imaginations and the understanding all young children seem to have that the world is their oyster.
I have worked diligently to keep our home media literate, gender neutral with toys, and full of playthings that are open ended. My husband and I try to keep gender stereotypes and sexualization out of our home. I certainly will not be teaching my daughter, who was named after Amelia Earhart, to sit quietly and be pretty. I flatly refuse to teach her that her beauty is her worth.
I believe girls deserve better. I believe we need to change the way we think about our girls. I think girls should be allowed to dream in every color. I think girls should have the freedom to imagine growing up to be a doctor, a race car driver, a pilot, or an astronaut. I raise my girl to be smart, daring, and adventurous. I don’t think those things belong on the boy side of the aisle. I simply think they belong in the middle of childhood.
Melissa Wardy is a mother of two who owns and operates Pigtail Pals – Redefine Girly, an online store and media literacy blog that aims to change the way we look at girlhood. Our empowering products show girls they may be smart, daring, and adventurous.