I was talking with a pregnant friend recently who just found out she’s having a girl. We were discussing differences between boys and girls and she said, “I just hope she doesn’t have an interest in sports because I don’t know anything about sports and it’ll be hard for us to be close.” I assured my friend that she would still be close with her daughter; that they would bond over other things. She didn’t seem to enthusiastic and responded that girls who are into sports aren’t into things like shopping and makeup. Well, my eyes just about rolled out of my head and onto the floor after that remark. I told her I know plenty of athletic women that enjoy getting their hair highlighted as much as they do playing a game of soccer. Her remark stuck with me though and really started to bother me.
My friend basically summarized the difficulty our society has with women who use their bodies in strong, energetic and powerful ways. As if the act of kicking a ball or running a few miles means that a woman is not feminine in any way and could never find enjoyment in anything related to her appearance. For some reason, people get really freaked out when women (and men) don’t fit perfectly into their gender roles. It’s like their entire world is thrown off its axis!
People seem to be more concerned with raising our daughters to play with toy beauty salons and keeping our sons from wanting to dress in fairy princess costumes than they are with raising them to be good people. It’s troubling that a mother is worried she won’t be able to bond with an athletic daughter and that a father freaks out if his son so much as picks up a doll.
Imagine all the amazing female athletes we could have if society encouraged and conditioned little girls to enjoy sports the way we do with little boys. And no, I don’t mean making pink baseball bats. That only separates the genders even more (which is a different conversation for a different blog post). Everyone needs to relax and accept that hobbies and interests aren’t an either/or type of deal. You don’t have to choose between being feminine or athletic. There isn’t a nametag or t-shirt you have to put on.
It’s okay to be athletic and feminine. Just wear waterproof makeup because that stuff stings when it sweats into your eyes.