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When I think of the word bravery, it instantly brings me to my youngest daughter. I’ve written about her many times, but it’s always been about how proud I am of her, not necessarily how brave she is. When you have a little girl you dream of dressing her up in little dresses and putting all the custom bows and hair clips you can find in her baby soft hair. You dream of one day playing house or store, or even play with baby dolls or anything of the like. But what happens when your little girl has no interest in anything that would be dubbed as “girly”?
Up until the time that Gianna was about to enter kindergarden she fell in love with a boys white undershirt. Nothing exciting, just a regular boys *Hanes white t-shirt. She was obsessed with them. She would go into my sons bedroom, go through his drawers, take clothes out and would start wearing them. Little by little you’d find my sons clothes missing and they would magically appear under my daughters bed or shoved into one of her drawers. I like to think that if my oldest was closer in age, she’d have done the same thing with her clothes, but because her and her brother were always so close it just seemed natural to her to want to be like him. He didn’t play with anything “girly” so if she wanted to play with someone, it was lego’s or cars, construction or a sport.
Her little white tee-shirt trend carried on and before I knew it, I was shopping in the boys section for her because she hated everything that had to do with girl clothes. She hated how they fit on her arms, her waist and her legs. She hated that everything she saw in the girls section was pink or purple or had sparkles on them. She hated it to the point that I would have serious fights with my 6 year old about what to wear. One day I just decided it wasn’t worth fighting and I had to pick my battles. Fighting over clothes on a 6 year old wasn’t something I would have called a major life issue. And, at the end of the day, I wanted her to be comfortable with what she was wearing and who she was. I mean, think about it. Who likes wearing jean everyday when it feels like you’re wearing a sausage link skin on top of your own skin. Hence the reason we (I say we because I know I’m not the only one who prefers to wear yoga pants or pj bottoms) all wear what we feel most comfortable in. Hell, I hate wearing a bra and if I could get away without having to wear one every day I would! Imagine what a 5 year old is feeling when something doesn’t feel right on their own bodies.
As she got older she started getting teased because she didn’t wear girl clothes. This came from peers of hers, even at a young age such as 6. “Why don’t you wear girl clothes” would always be asked. She would just matter of factually just respond with, “Because I don’t like them”, and leave it at that. She would wear boy clothes every day. She loved wearing boys t-shirts, you know the ones with Spongebob or any Lego guy, Batman or a Chicago Cubs one. She just loved wearing boy t-shirts because the sleeves and the chest area are bigger and wider. It wasn’t “too tight”. Then she was on a sweat pants and basketball shorts kick. So yes, off to the boy section again for those. Why? Because boy sweatpants are looser and they had elastic on the bottom, they weren’t flared and the basketball shorts were longer and went just to the middle of her knee, not 3″ above it. She has to this day preferred wearing boy clothes, not because she wants to be a boy, but just because they make her more comfortable. She was often mistaken for a boy when we would be shopping. She had long hair, like past her shoulders long and a sweet girl face, but cashiers and other people would often refer to her as a “him” or “he” or “boy” and she never really cared. I got to the point where I just ignored it.
It wasn’t until she decided she wanted to cut all her hair off and get short hair. This was the end of 5th grade. She would be entering a new school the following year and meeting all new friends. Did that stop her? No. I was a bit more hesitant than her but she felt very strongly about getting her hair cut into a pixie cut. I already knew that with her wearing boy clothes and her with short hair, the gender stereotype would increase. She is so brave. I would never have the strength it took to get her hair cut that short. She has never been a victim of others words. It seriously will go in one ear and out the other. She has made some comments on occasion but they are usually a result of something her family (me, my son, my husband, etc…) would say but the words of a stranger, she could care less and I admire that about her. To me, that is a form of bravery that I have never seen in anyone other than her.
Starting a new school and having teachers call her “sir” on her first day in front of a classroom of new students would have set me into a depressed state. It pissed me off. I immediately emailed the entire team of teachers and spoke with the principal. I told them all that in todays world you can’t just assume a child’s gender based on their clothing or hair cut. I think my daughters strength and bravery comes from how we have decided to raise her. We have always shown her nothing but love and she knows we have her back. Her bravery is something that has been taught. We taught her to be who she wants to be. We taught her that she doesn’t have to conform to today’s definition of what a girl should be. We taught her to be an independent thinker. We taught her about acceptance. We taught her about judgement and lack there of. We taught her to be compassionate. We taught her to be who she wants to be. We taught her to wear what makes her feel good, even if it’s boy clothes.
I dedicate todays Word-A-Day blog post about bravery to you my sweet, caring, loving daughter. You are the bravest young lady that I know. It takes a lot of confidence to do what you do and to be who you want to be on a daily basis. With girls and boys trying to be something they’re not, or getting involved with drama, you are just walking to the beat of your own drum and you should be extremely proud of yourself. Middle school is hard but you made it seem super easy because you are just being you. And that is all you should ever be. You should always be proud to stand tall, even if you are by yourself, and be who you want to be. I am so proud of your bravery on the daily that it makes my heart ache with happiness for you and your future.
If you can tackle gender stereotypes this early in your life, I have no doubt that you can handle any situation in your future. You are and always will be the definition of bravery to me. I love you.
If you are taking part in my #WordADayChallenge don’t forget to link up your posts here!
Tomorrows word is Compassion.