The girl with the blue shoes

Bella in blue.
Just when you think you're fighting your battle alone in your sleepy Southern town with your working from home and your not-much-time-for-anything-but-work days ... along comes like-minded women and men who remind you that the world can be there for you.

People like Melissa at Pigtail Pals and Crystal at the Achilles Effect and all the commenters on their Facebook pages (Pigtail Pals here; Achilles Effect here) sucked me right out of my vacuum and inspired me to challenge the gender limitations my girl has crashed into since starting preschool.

Along with crying at the sheer goodness of seeing so many girls embracing all the vibrant colors and interests this world offers, I've decided to go for the teachable moment.

Like a true suburban guerrilla activist, I've asked Bella's teacher if I can come in to do a story and activity with Bella's class. We'll be reading Not All Princesses Dress In Pink, The Paper Bag Princess, and My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can A Girl Dream?

I decided on those three (or however many we get through) because they allow girls to be princesses without having to be copycat, cookie cutter, Stepford molds of each other. You can play princess and still wear blue shoes or love dinosaurs or want to work on the car. You can do all things -- whether they are "for boys" or "for girls."

My intention for my time in the class is not to make Bella's experience an example or hammer these kids over the head with my beliefs. My intention is to help each child reframe their beliefs on what's acceptable for boys and girls, and help them start pushing back against those limitations the adults in their lives have given them.

Fingers crossed!


  • Cheri

    way to go mama! spark a colorful revolution!

  • Unknown

    You are such a great Mommy!

  • Kim


  • TKW

    Hey, Cinderella wore blue at the ball! I'm all in favor of blue.

  • Kelly Miller

    @Cheri - We're all sparking it together!

    @Becky - I learn from the best.

    @TKW - It wasn't really that they were blue. It was that they had Buzz and Woody on them -- boy characters, in blue, were too much.

  • Kelly Miller

    @Kim - thank you! I'm thinking I'll enjoy spending time with the kids, even if I do have an ulterior motive.

  • Liz Mays

    I love that you're reading those books and pushing the boundaries of princesshood a little bit!

  • ayala

    well done...good mama!

  • Bibliomama

    Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots is another good one. I'm sorry I didn't answer your email - I was trying to give it some thought. I can't think of any specific examples of Eve going through this - but she did give Angus a bit of a look when he said he didn't care if one of his six notebooks was pink while we were buying school supplies today. I told her to leave him alone. She did say one of the boys in her class insisted that boys are stronger than girls one day - but it didn't bother her since shortly afterwards she had to open his snack container for him. :)

  • Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri

    Bravo Kelly. Way to break some barriers down.

  • BigLittleWolf

    It's astonishing how early those gender roles start (pink blankets after childbirth, or blue - before you even leave the hospital).

    Equally amazing, how little has really changed in decades.

  • Sherry

    Good for you! Bless little Bella and her beautiful blue shoes! :-)

  • Stacia

    We routinely conduct trains while wearing tulle around here. I hope it lasts a long time! And I hope your lesson goes well!!

  • Kelly Miller

    Thanks folks. After four days at the beach with a little girl who boogie boards like it's nobody's business, we've shirked off the nasty "rules" of gender. At least for a little while...

  • Amy @ Never-True Tales

    Yes. THIS. I am so glad you're pioneering this path. As the parent of all boys, and a teacher in a kinder/1st grade environment, I see gender boundaries all the time, and I hate it. Just today: there were Hello Kitty stickers and Cars stickers in a bin. One girl's hand hovered over Cars, but choose Hello Kitty after looking around her at all the other girls' choices. Broke my heart.

  • The Mommy Mambo

    I love it! I don't even have girls and I find myself trying to show my boys that girls can do anything they can do.
    For instance, I have a man that cleans our house every two weeks. Really. He is super tall so he can reach the fans without a ladder. He's awesome. AND...we just sold our house and are currently building a new home. Our contractor is FEMALE! And very feminine I might add. Classic example of what a princess can do and what is not always women's work, don't you think?

  • Stacey

    I think this might interest you, http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/2010/12/19/princess/. It's from a conference I attended last November.

  • Anonymous

    A favorite mental image I have from my son's preschool is the memory of a little friend of his who was wearing a flowing princess dress and a yellow construction hardhat all at the same time.

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