Friday, November 14, 2008


So, Z.'s favorite thing about morning playtime is dress-up. She makes a beeline to the dress-up cubbies when she walks in every morning, and she squeezes herself into a pink tutu that is more than two sizes too small for her, because it is all pink tulle and sparkles. There is a pale, pale blue nighty of many flimsy layers. There is a red-violet velour dress with little silver hearts instead of polka-dots. There is a green floral smock. There is a row of purses, on hooks. There is one floppy hat.

And there is a basket of plastic, high-heeled mules, sized for preschoolers.

Dress-up has been bothering my inner feminist zealot for months now (c'mon, you know you all have one). Granted, these are discarded real fancy clothes, and there are no Disney logos, but there is also no boy-gendered dress-up, or even any non-frilly dress-up. I know that our children are geniuses of invention, but the costumes don't offer any obvious path for role-playing--no pirates or doctors or witches or firefighters or cooks or cowboys. There is the opportunity for fabulousness, and I'm not knocking that. Fabulousness is fun. But fabulousness all by itself is not very interesting. Do you keep telling stories about tea parties, and ladies who lunch?

And the shoes. The shoes. The shoes.

They drive me fucking nuts.

But I never said anything, because somehow, I had this idea that Z. wasn't wearing them. I dunno why I thought that. Of course she was wearing them; this is Z. we are talking about. Today I saw her putting them on as I was putting her lunchbox away. I went over to give her my goodbye hug and kiss, and I talked to her about how those shoes weren't good for walking, and weren't comfortable, and weren't good for her feet or her legs.

And then I asked the teacher if any other parents had said anything about the shoes. She said no, and the shoes had just come with the room, and she'd never given them much thought, except to tell the girls they could only wear them on the rug because otherwise they fall too much. (They fall too much!!! Of course they do, they are three-year-olds in HIGH HEELS!!!) And then I told the teacher (who dresses like an old school dyke, even though she is not one) that it would make me happy if the shoes were phased out.

And the teacher was totally fine with it.

So now I think we are honor-bound to buy some good pretend-play costumes for the classroom. Z. is thinking pirates.

Pirate captains.


Magpie said...

Capes are good. Schmattes that double as capes or skirts or forts or blankets are great. Hats and bandannas are good.

It's shocking how insidious it is. Really. Shocking.

susan said...

Yes--fabric of all sorts, capes, shirts....but the shoes: nuts.

Tall Kate said...

We have a 3-year-old lover of all things fancy here, too -- but I have successfully resisted the shoes so far. Ick, ick, ICK!! (We actually got some hand-me-down shoes that are fancy, but flats -- little pink metallic ballet flats are much-loved and not wildly inappropriate.)

I second the recommendation for capes. We have several around here. Also aprons (do they even count as dress-up?) Crowns (we have a gender-neutral one that both my kids wear) . . . belts, scarves, large pieces of silky fabric . . . all good.

Oh, and good for you for speaking up!!

kathy a. said...

capes, vests, accessories besides shoes...

i actually have a pirate costume from when my son was small, and would be happy to donate it. he was probably 4 or 5 [6?] when i made it. i think 2 peter-pan type costumes, too -- basically green felt tunics. let me know if you are interested and i'll scout the closet.

kathy a. said...

and hats. seriously, the preschool should have a hat drive for the dress-up cubby.

liz said...

Capes!! And scarves.

What about some grown-up-sized shoes? You know, like men's dress shoes or something like that?

jo(e) said...

I'm so with you on this.

We used to get cool dress-up clothes of all types at the local thrift store.

Julia said...

Oooooh boy, do I hate those sparkly princessy getups. Monkey got one as a gift for her 3rd birthday. Yes, complete with those crappy plastic shoes. From a boy she used to play with at the playground. I was livid. Who the fuck gives that to a kid without checking with parents first? How the fuck can a grown up think that this is not a gift you check on first? The situation was rectified, somewhat, when my best friend from college suggested to Monkey that this was in fact a queen Ester costume. Three. Three Purims we got out of it, the last with a turtleneck stitched into the costume to avoid looking embarrassing. Need a new one this year. Will be interesting to see what she comes up with.

P.S. Catching up again. Current now, and will try hard to stay this way. :)