Where did the idea for Pigtail Pals come from? Is this all done by one person?
Yes, it is all me. I run the business, write the blog and social media updates, wrote the book, and do the public speaking. And I am very proud of what I have built. The idea came to me while watching my daughter play during playgroup when she was 10 months old. The other moms were talking about Disney Princesses, and the wheels inside my feminist head started turning. I asked aloud “Why do we teach girls to wish upon a star for a prince. We should be teaching them to get in a rocket ship and get to that star on their own. I’d like to see that on a shirt for a girl.” I was met with blank stares. I raced home and filled an entire notebook with ideas.
That notebook became a company with a global customer base that will turn five years old in May 2014. One blog, one book, and over fifty tee designs later I have build a large and loyal following of amazing parents, educators, and caring adults all dedicated to creating change for our kids.
I may have gotten the ball rolling, but without my incredible group of artists, web and graphic design team, and amazing colleagues PPBB couldn’t be what it is today. It takes all of us working together to bring about change.
So what is the whole Redefine Girly thing about? And what about boys?
Redefine Girly is the mission of Pigtail Pals. It means that girls will define for themselves who they will be in this world, and not buy into the very narrow stereotypes and sexualization being marketed to them. It means girls will show the world that they can be smart, daring, and adventurous. And that when they smart, daring, and adventurous, they are being girly.
In 2012, Pigtail Pals expanded to include boys in our work fighting gender stereotypes in childhood. In addition to “Redefining Girly” we are working as Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies to “Reclaim Boyhood”, and create a safe space where boys can grow with the message that there are many ways to be a boy. A space where empathy, creativity, intelligence, and imagination are celebrated and where stereotypes about violence and aggression in little boys is checked at the door.
Boys and girls face different stereotypes that hurt them in similar ways. Sometimes we address these together, sometimes we have to separate it out. Overall, PPBB believes that gender should be the least salient quality about a child.
Why did you decide to include boys in what you do?
I think the better question is, Why wasn’t I including boys all along? My son is now four years old, and I guess it took me that long to realize how messed up things are for boys, too. I just assumed all boys loved sports and fighting except for a gentle few. Then I realized I was being a sexist ass, so I read a bunch of books, talked to a bunch of moms and dads, and changed my thinking.
When we know better, we can do better. And I want things to be better for my son. For all of our sons.
We have to build up boys in the process of building up girls. If I focused only on girls then I would not be acting as the best advocate possible for my son. When we spend a coin, we spend both sides. PPBB champions girls AND boys.
I am the parent of a young daughter, and I have so many questions about raising her to be confident, not sexualized, not stereotyped because of her gender, and to have a healthy body image. I have a son and I don’t want him to fall into that narrow trap of what it means to be a boy. Can you help?
Y-E-S. Yes! That is what we are all about! There is no one “right” way, no one answer to these questions because every child is different but I’ll certainly answer them to the best of my ability. When I’m unsure about something we’ll call in other experts with whom I’ve built strong connections with. I’m a parent, just like you, and just like you I get frustrated. PPBB has created an amazing community of parents who support and learn from each other every day. You can email questions to info (at) pigtailpals (dot) com.
My book “Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualization of Girlhood, Birth to Tween” (Chicago Review Press) is a road map for parents to navigate this toxic childhood our society has created. We know what are the problems facing girls. Now we need to do something about it. We’ll get there together, and our girls will be better for it.
I hope to write a similar book for boys in the near future.
I have a great story I’d like to share, can I tell you about it? Can I make a suggestion for a design?
Yep. Have a story or suggestion? Have strong feelings on the “so sexy so soon” tend or raising boys as small warriors? Let’s hear it! Email: info (at) pigtailpals (dot) com
I expect a lot from my community and my blog readers. Included in this is good manners and intelligent conversation. Comments that are rude or hurtful to people in this community and their children will not be published and/or will be deleted. Comments on the blog that are unproductive and lend nothing to the conversation except to project negativity will not be published. Racist, sexist, homophobic, and spiteful comments are never tolerated and go in the trash.
This is a safe place for us to shine, learn, and grow. Critical thinking and civil disagreement are totally fine and welcome. I don’t want to censor voices, but in my space you cannot hurt someone else in order to make your point, you must stand on facts. The comment section of this blog is not to critique and judge other parents (or my parenting) but rather to reflect, discuss, and learn. We don’t always have to agree, but we do need to be civil. Learning takes place only when people feel safe and respected.
That is what we do here — We build people UP.