Why I don’t want my daughter wearing skirts

The illustrations are originals by @Paulcarlonillustration on Instagram.

My daughter is 2. She thinks she is 5. She thinks she is as old and physically capable as her older brother. This photo of her knees show the battle scars she proudly earned from an afternoon in the park chasing after him.

At the park, as they were tearing around after one another, a lovely lady from the neighbourhood stopped to talk to me. She noticed my daughter’s knees and remarked:

“Ack bless! When I worked at the school we used to call those ‘little boy knees’.”

But my daughter isn’t a little boy.

She is a girl and she can scuff her knees up with the best of them.

This doesn’t make her a Tomboy. It makes her a girl…with scuffed knees.

The exchange made me think, “why is it we consider physicality to be such a masculine trait?” or, perhaps more precisely, “why do we consider physicality to be a positive trait in boys but less so in girls”?

Does an emphasis on cuteness and the stereotype of “being lady-like” hold our little girls back?

What other ways do we sub-consciously reduce their physicality?

  • Do we go easier on them during horse play than we do our sons?

  • Do they tend to have cuter, more decorative shoes so we are more likely to discourage them from running through the muddy field?

  • Is practising cart wheels in a dress not ‘lady like’?

As I watched my daughter, kitted out in delightful unicorn wellingtons and a light blue dress, attempt to climb the ladder that her bigger brother, in jeans and a t-shirt, had just scaled in a few seconds, I realised there IS a restriction I’ve inadvertently put on her.

In fact, I put it on her this very morning, and most mornings:

Her dresses.

Don’t get me wrong, she looks insanely cute in each and every dress but they aren’t exactly “activewear”. When she crawls her knees constantly get caught on the material. When she runs, I can see her full range of motion being restricted.

No wonder her knees hit the dirt so much.

Dresses and skirts are just not practical for her current desired level of mobility (full pace, everywhere, at all times!).

When my daughter is just wearing trousers or leggings she can elongate that gait as much as she wants.

Good for future Olympic gold medals, bad for when she’s trying to run away in the grocery store.

My son has never has these restrictions. He always wears trousers or shorts. As a result, he’s pretty convinced he’s the Flash and claims to run so fast that he can disappear from sight. A skill I wish he wouldn’t practice when we are out shopping.

Once my daughter is fully physically developed and has mastered the essential life skills of running, jumping and climbing trees, THEN she can choose to wear whatever dresses she likes.

Right now, however, at this developmental stage, they are ‘style over substance’ and I’m sorry but that phrase doesn’t represent any daughter of mine.

Oh! And don’t get me started on high heels for toddlers!!

But what if my daughter LIKES dresses?

This is all very well, but what if your daughter WANTS to wear long dresses? What if you are a feminist father with a daughter who hasn’t taken her Elza costume off in three years?

The good news is that author, dress wearer, and epic sword fighter, Melissa Caruso has compiled a definitive guide, complete with gifs, on how to duel while in a Disney Princess dress.

She summaries thus:

The illustrations are originals by @Paulcarlonillustration on Instagram.

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2 thoughts on “Why I don’t want my daughter wearing skirts

  1. I have a son who goes through the tops of his shoes quicker than my bank balance would like and I’m always saddened by the ‘pretty’, flimsy, impractical school shoes available for girls that are clearly not designed for action. I always had what we referred to as ‘school girl knees’. I was always running, jumping, climbing… falling, grazing, scuffing ? Probably where my love of Dr Martens stemmed from.

    1. Yes! You aren’t the first person I’ve heard talk about flimsy school shoes for girls. We were in the Doc Marten store the other day and saw the most amazing bright pink toddler sized boot. It was BAD – ASS! Although it did sadden slightly when I realised my inital reaction to presume that boot was for her but all others were for boys. Thanks for commenting (and reading!).

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