I don't want to princess-shame my kid
August 9, 2017 1:50 PM   Subscribe

We had a shit milestone this week: Age 3 3/4, first body image related meltdown. I need a crash course in guiding my princess-obsessed preschool daughter to differentiate what she wants to be from what other kids tell her she should be.

Nanopanda is a lovable, sassy, VERY OPINIONATED little 3 year old. She is also (lord help me) a princess extraordinaire. Which I am soooo not. But hey - that's cool - she likes frilly dresses and sparkly tutus and tiaras and endless amounts of pink - so that's what I buy her and we roll with it. To mix things up just a tad, I made her a very twirly science-print skirt and we cheered about being a science princess. Dad got her a NASA t-shirt that matches her rainbow skirt so sometimes she's a space princess. We have all memorized The Princess In Black.

And, of course I know that much of this is coming from other kids at daycare, but she's made it her thing and that's fine. HOWEVER: this weekend we were going fishing in a spot that involved a muddy, buggy hike through the woods, so I decreed that everyone must wear old blue jeans to protect their legs. She asked if she could wear her lace skirt, I said no, and she erupted instantaneously into a hysterical wailing meltdown of "BUT IF I DON'T WEAR A SKIRT THEN [KID] AND [OTHER KID] WILL SAY I'M NOT PREETTTYYYYYYY." Which, uh, not okay.

I think I handled it fine in the moment, which was a combination of consoling, telling her that the other kids were flat out wrong that you have to wear a skirt to be pretty, and explaining that sometimes you have to wear functional clothes rather than pretty ones. We weathered the storm, we got the blue jeans on, we had fun fishing.

But it's got me thinking: Obviously I will do my best to accept that these moments will arise, and to handle them on the fly. But I feel a little lost in terms of setting the ongoing message and framing ongoing conversations. I don't want to tell her that she shouldn't love her sparkly dresses. But I also don't want her to internalize that she MUST wear a dress in order to be pretty, because pretty is the most important thing. (I confirmed from talking to her more after she had calmed down that the kids do tell her she's not pretty if she doesn't wear a skirt, and that she doesn't perceive this as being mean, but rather just as making a true statement about the world.) I'm so sad that we're already seeing this at 3, and I want to do whatever I can now to lay the foundation for when we're dealing with it on a whole new level at 13. We already do things like tell her she's strong/confident/kind/cooperative rather than only commenting on her appearance - drives me NUTS how all people say to little girls is that they're pretty. I've also been making a conscious effort to reduce my usage of "beautiful" - instead of saying "your dress is so beautiful" when she shows it off, I try to say "your dress is so sparkly" or "so pink" or whatever.

I know there's no overnight fix for this sort of thing, but I want to get my long game in order now. Folks who are dealing with / have dealt with this, what are your strategies? How do you go about casually bringing this stuff up in conversation? How DO I combat pernicious messages from the outside without princess-shaming my kid??? Aighhh!
posted by telepanda to Human Relations (32 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Don't worry about it too much. They have no long term memory of this age; it isn't formative (beyond the element of physical and emotional safety.) You can say your piece, whatever it is - "skirts are just one of the ways we have fun, but they're not the right clothing for outside adventures" - and don't worry about it.

The bigger thing is to not countenance tantrums.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:58 PM on August 9, 2017 [9 favorites]

There's a Daniel Tiger episode about this (Katerina Kitty Cat wants to wear her tutu all the time and learns it's not always appropriate). There's also one where Daniel wants to wear his trademark red sweater and can't.

I was really freaked out by the princess thing when I found out I was going to have a girl, but then a friend's eight year old daughter schooled me. "Some girls like princesses when they're three or four and there's nothing wrong with being a princess but when they turn seven they like horses or minecraft." That's been pretty much true for all of the kids I've known and helped me gain perspective and kind of roll with my 3 year old daughter's deep love for all things princessy and sparkly. It's nice to look beautiful, to be told you look pretty or beautiful, and at least my 3 year old, at least, can make just about anything a battle of wills. And the whole world is out there to tell girls that they are flawed and imperfect and ugly so I imagine that there are greater harms than telling my daughter she is beautiful, which she is. I will never offer anything other than unequivocal approval in her appearance, because I was sometimes offered the opposite as a child, and it hurt me. I also, of course, tell her that she's smart and funny and brave.

Something that helps me frame all of this in my mind is considering how I would respond to a little boy wanting to explore these things. Of course I would help him explore his beautiful, twirly, sparkly side. Of course I would tell him he was beautiful, whether he was in jeans or a skirt. So I'll do the same for my daughter.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:03 PM on August 9, 2017 [31 favorites]

Also do you guys watch Nella the Princess Knight? Twirly pretty princess who transforms into armor when she needs to get shit done. I think your daughter would enjoy it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:10 PM on August 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: To clarify: I'm down with princesses (even as I roll my eyes juuuuust a tad), I don't mind that she wants to be pretty (I'm just ratcheting down the "pretty" comments from 95% to like 60%), and I can handle tantrums. If she was just being stubborn about the skirt, I wouldn't have batted an eyelash.

The part I am struggling with is how does one navigate the fine line between "I want to wear a skirt because I love skirts" and "I have to wear a skirt because otherwise my friends will say I'm not pretty" ?
posted by telepanda at 2:11 PM on August 9, 2017

The part I find alarming is how does one navigate the fine line between "I want to wear a skirt because I love skirts" and "I have to wear a skirt because otherwise my friends will say I'm not pretty" ?

"Your friends are wrong. You're beautiful no matter what you're wearing. It's important to pick clothes because they're right for the activity and make you feel good to wear them, not to make other people happy. Your legs will be cold in a skirt, so that's out for this walk, but let's find an outfit that you feel good in for our walk."

Building a dichotomy between "beautiful" and "functional" clothes only reinforces the idea that she won't look beautiful in pants, so I'd avoid that route.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:15 PM on August 9, 2017 [49 favorites]

Are her friends being mean about it? Or are they just saying it as a matter of fact, that she is prettier in a dress.

As a adult woman, there are definitely outfits that I feel I'm prettier in and outfits that are more... "practical." I wear the practical outfits because they are more comfortable, or easier to clean, or any number of reasons. It's not important to always be pretty, and in fact, there are very few times when it is important to be pretty (for other people).

Alternatively, can you just let her wear her tutu in the mud and ruin it? Then she will learn why she can't do that and perhaps choose more practical clothing next time.
posted by ethidda at 2:18 PM on August 9, 2017 [5 favorites]

I'm going to link some of the resources that I give to parents when they are starting to go through this stuff with their younger kiddos. The things that I recommend are a lot of what you're already doing - we talk about our bodies/self-image in a way that focuses on the great things our bodies can do, the way our unique brains think, and also giving kids normalization around everyone's body or appearance looking different (such as, "Yeah, some people do have big tummies and some don't! All people are different, that's what makes us interesting.") We comment on how strong their bodies are, how they protect us from getting sick, how great it is that our legs can run, or that our brains can figure out a problem, or our hands can make art in exactly the right way for us. I also usually talk with kids who are experiencing negative commentary from other children about how different people think different things, and other kids' families might talk about bodies/image differently than your family does, so those other kids might think mixed up things (I never say "wrong" or "bad," just mixed up which I think is more value-neutral) and so they might say things like, "You aren't pretty unless you wear a skirt." Here are the other articles that I often give parents, and the Common Sense Media website is a great resource for parents who are managing the media intake of kids.

5 Ways Parents of Preschoolers Can Raise a Body-Positive Kid

Common Sense Media - Books that Promote a Healthy Body Image

3 Things Parents Should Say to Girls to Help Them Build a Positive Body Image

Common Sense Media - has many more articles and lists for parents around how to use media for good with your kiddos!
posted by fairlynearlyready at 2:27 PM on August 9, 2017 [32 favorites]

As mother of now teenage girls who wishes I had the perspective I have now when my small princesses were wailing about these things:
Don't forget, these are other 3/4 year olds -- not Society. They are trying to organize the world in terms of the categories available to them. "Pretty" does not have the objectifying, sexualized, terrible ego-destroying significance it will later. Rather it is part of the binary they are adamantly enforcing: Pink/princess/sparkly/girl/pretty vs Blue/whatever yadda yadda/boy.
The crying and wailing about not being pretty does not mean to a 4 year old what it does to a 9 year old, a 14 year old or a 42 year old. It means she's reacting to being told "You can't be This Thing in the Category." Yes, a Good Thing, but it's not cathected the way it is for you... however, we make it it that way by over reacting.
Keep cool. "Yup, you can be pretty in jeans" is enough. You're just chipping away at the rigid toddler binary and adding bedrock to her ability to refute the social binary that it refers to. TLDR: Keep cool. Don't be pissed at the other little kids. (Their extreme opinionated insistence is just as valiantly adorable to their parents as your kid's is to you... :) ... )
posted by flourpot at 2:27 PM on August 9, 2017 [26 favorites]

"You're not pretty" is totally a weapon in the hands of three year olds.
Same as "you're smaller than me!" and a couple of other things. That shit hurts!

I tell my 3 yo to just tell the other girl to stuff it. I mean, I treat it as the equivalent to sticking out your tongue or calling names.

I tell her of course she's beautiful, which is what she needs to hear right now. And yeah, princess dresses only make you pretty in the right setting. On a hike, they make you look silly and ill prepared! After all, Princess in Black wouldn't fight monsters in the pink dress, would she?

By the way, the pink phase mostly ends with 5 years of age. Big girl then started wanting pants and dinosaur shirts again. She also had more complex thoughts about beauty, identity and self image at that age and we could talk better about it.

It's an ongoing thing. You don't need to solve it right this instant.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:39 PM on August 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

A couple things that I will throw out there about my own child and how I handled some similar things. I am only an expert on one child – my own – so grain of salt, etc.

1. Age 3-1/2 was so terrible for us. My daughter was dramatic, weepy, angry, fight-ey, tantrum-ey, etc.. It was a very trying time. It did pass.

2. I allow princess things but I emphasize and question them as I do superheroes. They are superheroes for girls in my family but beauty and dresses are not superhero skills. I would ask, "Oh! Cinderella! Oh my! What can Cinderella do? Does she have any magical skills? I believe that she can talk to animals and fairies! And is an expert horse-rider!" I recommend this book which is right in her age group. Very sweet and not un-creative adventure stories extending the narrative of these princesses in ways that are positive and give more heft to them as characters. Cinderella rescues the fairies from a hunter's snare in the woods! Belle fixes all the broken things around the castle after reading up on such things in the library! (Do-it-Yourself for Beasties, I guess.)

3. Anything my daughter can wear, she can get muddy in. Almost all her clothes are thrifted or hand-me-downs and that has helped in not making things too precious. Safety is my primary concern. (Channeling Edna Mode: "NO CAPES!", or at least no very long trains.) My daughter refused to wear anything but dresses so we bought a lot of leggings and also cut off leggings when she wore holes in the knees for under-dress shorts. So she can go anywhere and do anything. Sometimes when I know something is precious to her and her activity is dirty I will say, "Hey, I think when you play today on the playground, that skirt/costume/whatever may get really dirty or torn and catch on things, are you okay with that or do you want to change?" Let her choose. And then if she wants to drag her tulle skirt through the mud just let her. Basically, redirect to functionality and safety and practicality. The only thing I really insist on is proper shoes for her activity – flip-flops are not good for climbing trees or running or bike riding. Only recently have I relaxed and let her run around in some truly stupid shoes (because she is so fashion) but we talk about that, too. I convinced her to take off her new shiny black shoes (with leopord print accent) when she was going out to play so that they'd be nice for her first week of school (if she wants) but honestly, they probably won't be shiny by then. And that's okay.
posted by amanda at 2:41 PM on August 9, 2017 [16 favorites]

It might help to let her know that everyone else will also be wearing jeans.
posted by redorangeyellow at 2:48 PM on August 9, 2017

Also, wearing a tutu on top of jeans can be a useful option.
posted by redorangeyellow at 3:01 PM on August 9, 2017 [4 favorites]

I've also been making a conscious effort to reduce my usage of "beautiful" - instead of saying "your dress is so beautiful" when she shows it off, I try to say "your dress is so sparkly" or "so pink" or whatever.

A few other things to throw in the mix: "I love your color choices!" or "That is a really creative look!" or "Very fashion...." and "Would you like to add a fancy scarf from my closet?" Also, I have experimented with greeting her when I would pick her up at daycare with, "Hey Shooting star!", "Hey Powerhouse!", "I missed you, Superkid!" and of course, "How's my little monkey?"

I also regularly purge her wardrobe when it gets too pink from well-meaning gifts from relatives, hand-me-downs from superpink households. But I also say "all colors are for everyone" on the occasions where it comes up. Mostly, what I really want to cultivate in my daughter is skepticism and the sense that she can choose her own path and so can everyone else. I also have become more "girly" myself to show that being a girl/woman is great. (Though I do still wear a lot of black. I am an architect, after all.)
posted by amanda at 3:22 PM on August 9, 2017 [5 favorites]

The part I am struggling with is how does one navigate the fine line between "I want to wear a skirt because I love skirts" and "I have to wear a skirt because otherwise my friends will say I'm not pretty" ?

I have boys but have been on the opposite end of this. Some of this depends on time, because if you're trying to get into jeans and get out the door that's the priority.

But for me...I do want to push back against the gender police, for sure. However I also want my boys to form their own opinions that aren't even mine. So here is how I have approached it when we had time.

1) I did not jump in with my righteous anger but I said "well, what do YOU think?" and then I listened. In most cases my son actually argued himself into the position that I was hoping he would end up at.

2) I shared my genuine response and opinion AFTER hearing his, which was something like "it makes me sad and angry that people are saying that you shouldn't wear nail polish because you're a boy. I also think it's ridiculous..."

3) I went out of my way to point out men in skirts, etc. (Whatever it was.)
posted by warriorqueen at 3:47 PM on August 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Another concept to share with her:

"You are beautiful when you are happy and comfortable. Being pretty is about you, not what your clothes look like on their own. What clothes will make you happy and comfortable today?"

Possibly, with example pictures of people in pretty clothes that are very, very wrong for them. (Like if you tried on one of her pretty shirts - not mockery, but clothes that don't fit, or that are horribly unsuited for where they're being worn.) Teach her that clothes don't make a person beautiful; they help a person be beautiful today.

(Later, you can address the concept of "beautiful" as a value judgment and how there are other ways to be a good person. But start with "being beautiful" as something that happens in context, not an absolute condition.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:59 PM on August 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

The kid who is running around being the fashion police and telling other kids that they aren't pretty based on their clothes is sort of annoying. (If that's what happened.)

Building on what others have said, is it helpful to you at all to reframe and hear your daughters expressed worry as "[someone] will say I'm not fancy" or "[someone] will say they disapprove of my clothes"? (rather than "not pretty")
posted by puddledork at 6:03 PM on August 9, 2017

I would have a talk with the preschool!

There's zero reason the teachers are not or can not correct and re-direct that sort of talk between children, our old school would have persistently stamped that attitude out. These children are three years old, they are ALL beautiful no matter what they wear! Geez!

Talk to the director of your preschool. I might switch schools if they didn't correct the kids. They don't need to flip out, yo, but if they don't thank you for bringing it to their attention and there isn't a change, think seriously about switching schools. Other schools don't foster this kind of culture.

My son is 6 years old and I can definitely tell which of his classmates went to great preschools, and which kids didn't have a structured environment. The kids who got subtle lessons in patience and tolerance play together well and don't engage in as much hierarchical type play. You don't have to subject your daughter to this attitude at three years old. You're still in control for a few more years.
posted by jbenben at 6:10 PM on August 9, 2017 [4 favorites]

My take on this would be to drop my voice down to a stage whisper "Exactly. We don't want anyone to know you're pretty. You're in disguise"

If you're a princess you have to go to a ball and dance with a handsome prince. Mud is forbidden. If absolutely necessary to get them out of the house and into the canoe you let them go fishing in a pink sparkley princess dress but you smuggle them out of the house in their dad's raincoat, so that they don't get caught and have to go to the ball. And then when the princess dress is all over scales and mud and the tulle is torn you tell her you think the jeans and t-shirt disguise would have been a better one. And you have to replace it the princess outfit, so the object lesson is a very expensive lesson for you.

All good princess get to develop lots of other identities - women warrior, mean mommy, knowledgeable teacher, wilderness survival expert, international mystery spy etc. but they get to switch back to being princess the moment they want to. The princess outfit, and enough wet wipes to clean off the mud and fish can come on the fishing trip in the car to make the transition quicker.
posted by Jane the Brown at 6:11 PM on August 9, 2017

However, if you don't want to take the tack of trying to expand her identity beyond Princess to develop multiple identities, I suggest you sit down with an internet image search and compile a file of images of rl princesses, such as the late Princess Diana, which depicts her in a variety of activities and outfits, ranging from wedding dress and court gowns with tiaras, to gum boots and mackintosh, jeans and anorak, whatever she wore when touring a war zone (can you find a promo shot of her in a flak vest), serious business suit look, etc. and show this to Nanopanda.

| would not necessarily blame her preschool that much. It is quite likely a matter of her own personality and the personality of the two little girls that she cited who would call her out for failure to meet clique standards. It is more than possible that her preschool staff are doing everything they can to temper this trend, the group micro dynamic is a really dynamic one.
posted by Jane the Brown at 6:23 PM on August 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

It may help to occasionally voice admiration for both the prettiness and xxx talent/skill of women who are not wearing skirts.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:49 PM on August 9, 2017

I'm way out of my element, so this may not be at all useful. Please excuse my baggage and ignorance.

But for a slightly different perspective: I think it IS shameful to judge women/girls on their looks, and I think it IS shameful to consider oneself deserving of power and authority simply by virtue of birthright. These are things that go hand-in-hand with the basic definition of a modern media princess that your daughter is hearing about, despite many good-hearted efforts to redefine the term and its connotations.

3.5 yrs old is probably too young to understand that message, but IMO some things are shameful and to be avoided, and as a new parent I plant to teach those lessons when I can.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:17 PM on August 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

At that age, my tiny blonde daughter loved pink and pretty clothes, and this moderately gender-nonconforming mom struggled to accept what I thought was society's messages overwhelming all my modeling. I listened to what she said about what other kids told her, and I generally said, "Oh. Huh." It wasn't easy. But I decided that her choices were her choices, and also reminded myself that little girls in tutus also pick their noses and kick people, and after all it's just costume, and . . . And I'm glad I kept that stuff to myself, now that she's 34 and 5'10", because she still takes clothes seriously. But for a long time now the clothes have been sharp oxfords, men's clothing, and a short but very fashionable men's haircut (shaved her head completely in college), and she takes great pleasure in hearing little kids on the bus try to figure out if she's a guy or a girl.

The lesson I taught her, apparently, was that a person gets to make choices about how they present themselves, and a person also gets to change those choices when they want to, and other people's opinions about your appearance are entertaining but not as important as how your clothes make you feel.
posted by Peach at 7:50 PM on August 9, 2017 [8 favorites]

how does one navigate the fine line between "I want to wear a skirt because I love skirts" and "I have to wear a skirt because otherwise my friends will say I'm not pretty"

This is really, really hard stuff! Like, even today, as an adult, I'm not sure I could draw the dividing fine line between "I want to wear a skirt because I love skirts" and "I want to wear a skirt because they are flattering to my figure". And is it wrong necessarily if someone does want to wear something because it makes them look good?

I would maybe focus more on "Pretty is a thing, but its value is not as important as the other things we value more" rather than trying to deconstruct the nature of how beauty is perceived, you know?
posted by corb at 8:38 PM on August 9, 2017

I'm so sad that we're already seeing this at 3, and I want to do whatever I can now to lay the foundation for when we're dealing with it on a whole new level at 13.

You're seeing this as a personality trait of your daughter, when it is actually reflective of a developmental stage. At three she is just beginning to develop strong self-identity and simultaneously doing all of her rules-based development. The combination is often rabid and obsessive. But the peak of rigid gender conformity is 5 or 6 and not 13; kindergarteners are actually a bit terrifying in their tyranny.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:27 AM on August 10, 2017 [7 favorites]

Oh Telepanda!! It is distressing to hear that kind of thing from a young child. Please, please don't panic though. Maybe just think of it this way: she's noticing that people are judgmental and value appearances! True, some kids seem to be permanently oblivious to this, but most have to notice it first, to start to work through it.

I reckon that it's not about the clothes or her friends or her feelings about her friends judging her or being valued only for her appearance.
Underlying it all is: how do you support her as she navigates all this shit that the world will throw at her?
And that is the hardest part of parenting. It is how you listen and support and role model.
I'd suggest for a first stop reading "How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen So They'll Talk".
But ultimately, it is really worth checking out something like PET (Parent Effectiveness Training). There is a book and also a course. It is similar to the principles of Non-Violent Communication.
A lot of it is about how to listen, how to have constructive conversations, and how to support your child to figure stuff out for themselves. Ultimately, you can't change their mind; and it gets even harder as they get older. Even though she's young I think these principles might help you to feel better about it, and be better equipped to get through this stuff.
posted by 8k at 2:01 AM on August 10, 2017

I think I handled it fine in the moment, which was a combination of consoling, telling her that the other kids were flat out wrong that you have to wear a skirt to be pretty, and explaining that sometimes you have to wear functional clothes rather than pretty ones.

This sounds absolutely perfect to me. I think all you need to do is present this counter-argument whenever it arises; in time she'll have this counterargument already in her own head when someone gives her the "you have to wear a skirt to be pretty" argument. I've talked before about how my father's respect for and interest in the workings of my brain had a positive impact on me; but he didn't do it by deliberately sitting me down and Imparting Wisdom, or by turning things into an Empowerment Moment or anything. He just was what he was and he rolled how he rolled. If I ever was feeling dumb about something he'd point out some counter-examples like you did, but otherwise he just was there doing his thing.

I don't think there's any preventative thing you can do that would work as well as just consistent counter-examples will.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:34 AM on August 10, 2017

My pink-and-princess-loving five-year-old just picked out a book called Princess Grace from the library. It involves an elementary school princess-loving kid deciding she wants to be a princess in a parade, trying to explain to her grandmother what kind of costume she'll need (her grandma actually says the line "There's lots of ways to be pretty" which seems pretty appropriate to your conversation), and then her whole class learning about a variety of real and fictional princesses, some of whom are warriors and spies and high-powered Business Princesses, as well as standard dress-wearing frog-kissing kinds of princesses. It helped open up the label of "princess" a bit for us.
posted by SeedStitch at 5:36 AM on August 10, 2017

Teach some common sense. Emphasize that the princess stuff can't get in
the way of being able to run, walk, play. Your princess skirt is fun to wear, but it would get torn up on our hike, and it won't be so pretty any more. Look at role models Did you know that Princess Diana, a real life princess, went on a land mine-clearing operation? Let's look at what she wore. Wow, she was really brave. Make a plain skirt and help her tie-dye it pink & purple and glitter it up. Make crowns using bottle caps and puzzle pieces and other objects that can be painted and glittered - kind of taking ownership of the princess stuff. Plus, crafts are fun.

There's a child who is mildly bullying other kids about being pretty, and being pretty in a specific commercial way. This is going to keep happening in various forms. Pay attention to the kids she's with and de-emphasize the princess bully. Wow, Charlotte is a really fast runner. Hey, Tyra is fun to play games with. Jamie was really kind to Sam when Sam fell. and I wonder why Princess Bully is is so intent on buying princess stuff. Depending on how things go, even invite Princess Bully to a playdate with princess-y crafts that are not store-bought.
posted by theora55 at 7:12 AM on August 10, 2017

Kind of similar to what Amanda said up-thread, my cousin has two daughters and one of them went through a big pink/sparkly/frilly dress stage. My cousin's rule was, they would buy these at the thrift store and she didn't want her kid to use the dresses as an excuse to sit out muddy dirty kid play. So the dresses would get thrashed and that was totally fine. Tutus over jeans is also a good idea. And I wholeheartedly agree with counteracting the binary thoughts that young kids have on what is "pretty" or "girl" or "boy." Doing it in a very matter of fact way every time and then moving on seems to not result in digging in and battling for my son, though of course every kid is different.
posted by JenMarie at 10:37 AM on August 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Lots of good advice here, but I'd also get her a copy of Robert Munsch's The Paper Bag Princess. It reinforces the idea that princesses are awesome and also shows that she doesn't need anyone who wants to be her friend only when she's pretty.
posted by peppermind at 8:27 AM on August 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

She's getting a ton of positive attention from her friends when she wears pretty dresses. It might be no one is being negative or telling her what she has to wear.

Work really hard to give her positive attention for anything other than her appearance.

Also, I'd avoid teaching her that dresses and skirts can't get dirty or should limit her activities. A skirt getting trashed is a fine natural consequence.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:36 PM on August 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

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