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You can do better, Zara

Zara. I’m saying this as a friend. We’ve had a thing going for about 12 years now. Your coat game? Fierce. The fit of your jeans and trousers? Dreamy. Your prices? Sometimes I break out in a cold sweat of excitement because everything is so reasonable.

So, as a friend, I need to tell you that I’m not happy about this:1165558712_1_1_1

This is a nice baby sweater, right? Your baby would totally be the most stylish baby in this thing. The fairytale design is quirky. It’s not pink. There’s no glitter or mice drinking cups of tea or ballerinas or all the other stuff that people tend to put on every single item of baby-girl clothing. So what’s the problem?

The problem, is that the cartoon prince is ‘brave’ and the cartoon princess is ‘little’. I’m not a fan of the little-girls-as-princesses thing anyway, but I’ll put that aside because of the fairytale theme. But if clothes for girls must have princesses on, couldn’t they just, for once, be fucking brave? Or strong? Or anything but little or pretty or precious?

I’m saying this because I like you, Zara. Little princesses aren’t good enough.

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Feminist quandry

602072_10151966454087674_246089574_nSo, I’m a feminist. Emphatically, vocally feminist, albeit not quite to Germaine Greer’s standards, having never fancied tasting my own menstrual blood. Really Big G? Really?

But while according to G I’ll never be truly emancipated, it doesn’t stop me disliking the gender division which starts happening before a baby is even born. We chose not to find out M’s sex at the 20 week scan, partly because I like surprises, partly to avoid a well-intended deluge of pink/blue trucks/princesses according to the results.

Quite a lot of people – many of them strangers who struck up a conversation in the queue at Boots as I bought my 17th bottle of Gaviscon that week – were surprised by our decision. Apparently you cannot plan for a baby’s arrival if you don’t know whether to buy it clothes with trucks on or clothes with princesses on. Obviously you could not just buy clothes with trucks on anyway, because if a girl baby wore something like that, its vagina would just fall right off.

Pretty much as soon as I discovered I was pregnant, I knew I was having a boy anyway. I was totally confident that when the nine months were eventually up, the midwife would inform me: ‘it’s a boy!’, at which I would smile smugly and say: ‘well of course’. We actually ended up discovering Beta Baby was a Martha not a Noah a few minutes after she was placed on my chest. It was the moment I realised that any intuition you may think you have as a parent is almost certainly wrong.

Throughout pregnancy, despite my conviction I was growing a boy, I insisted that if I did have a girl, I wasn’t going to force her into conforming to tired old gender stereotypes. ‘She will wear dungarees’, I said. ‘I am not dressing her exclusively in pink’, I added. ‘And especially no fucking tutus’, I claimed.

But then I actually did have a girl. And I started looking at all the little girl clothes. The weeny little dresses. Mini leggings. Tiny cardigans with fricken glittery thread. Tights, lace, bows, ribbons, floral prints and oh-my-god-the-cutest-fucking-tutus. And my baby needed a tutu. She did! Her vagina would totally fall off without one.

So M has the girliest of girly wardrobes. Pinks, corals, ruffles, weird ballerina mice which are inexplicably everywhere, pinafores, sparkly stuff and yes, a tutu. A pink, layered, flouncy, sugar pink tutu. But she also has dungarees, pirates, blue, a batman outfit, bear suits, and dinosaurs.

But I’m ok with all the over-the-top froth. Because ultimately, feminism is about choice and freedom. As long as M grows up knowing her options never have to be limited or defined by her sex, then a tutu isn’t going to do her any damage.