December 12, 2016
When adults speak to children, unless they are fairly well-acquainted, they tend to look for clues to the child’s interests on their clothing. How many times have I said to little boys, “Wow! A dinosaur shirt! You must like dinosaurs”? But I don’t often say that to girls. Why? Because very few items of girls’ clothing feature dinosaurs - or pretty much anything else other than flowers and cute animals.
Rebecca and I had hypothesized that adults’ conversations with girls were naturally stifled because of what the girls were wearing. But we had no evidence - only a hunch that the clothes girls typically wore meant that adults tended to comment on how girls looked, rather than on what they were interested in.
But now we have collected anecdotal data about the kinds of conversations adults have with girls who are wearing Princess Awesome dresses. Here’s a selection of the feedback we’ve received:
“My daughter loves 'tutus' (any twirly skirt). She also loves dinosaurs & rockets & planes & trains. Significantly, what she wears impacts the kind of conversations people have with her! When she wears her rocket dress- adults talk to her about being an astronaut & flying to the moon!”
“Everything about these clothes make me happy as a mother: my daughters LOVE them (we have nearly all the prints in assorted sizes), they wear well and are versatile, and best of all, people engage in interesting and diverse conversations with my daughters about what they wear rather than make simple comments about how pretty or cute they are. My girls are pretty, but they are also smart; I prefer they be reminded of that more often than how they look.”
“I love that when she tells people it's from Shakespeare it opens up a whole different conversation with my 6 yr old over what Shakespeare she's read and how the pattern looks like the Periodic Table...what does she know about elements?”
“These dresses empower girls, get discussions going in other directions beyond being pretty-showing those around her that her interests are diverse and that she is more than a beautiful little girl, but also smart, curious, and an independent thinker.”
When we first started Princess Awesome, all I really cared about was filling the void in the girls’ clothing market - can we just please have ONE dress with a dinosaur on it?! But now I’ve come to realize that what children wear matters so much. Children love to express themselves through what they wear. When they can’t do that, it deprives them of showing the world an important part of their identity.
And more importantly, what children wear correlates to how adults will speak to them. Over time, all those conversations add up. They inform the child’s sense of what adults value, and therefore what the child will value too. Do we want our girls to think that the only thing adults value for them is whether they look pretty? Or do we want them to understand how much we care that they like catching frogs, building robots, reciting Shakespeare, or memorizing the periodic table? Princess Awesome is committed to changing the conversation for girls.